Florida lawmaker cites 'disturbing, hateful voicemails' after mask flap with state surgeon general

Florida lawmaker cites 'disturbing, hateful voicemails' after mask flap with state surgeon general

A Florida state senator says she’s received “disturbing, hateful voicemails” after asking state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo to leave her office for not wearing a mask.

State Sen. Tina Polsky (D) told CBS12 on Wednesday that her office has received a “number of disturbing, hateful voicemails since this story was given national attention, almost solely from phone numbers from outside of Florida.”

“Praying for my death and anti-Semitic vitriol is wrong, and outright unacceptable for any person to receive,” Polsky told the outlet. “I am very thankful to have such supportive staff who have shielded me from much of it, and to have the support from Senate President [Wilton] Simpson and the entire Senate body as I navigate my upcoming treatments." 


Last week, Ladapo went to Polsky’s office for a meeting, where he and his two aides were offered masks.

Polsky said she asked them to wear masks because she had a serious medical condition. She later revealed that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Ladapo offered to take the meeting outside, but Polsky declined and asked why he couldn’t wear a mask. The surgeon general did not answer.

Ladapo issued a statement on Tuesday defending the decision to not wear a mask, saying it was important for him to “communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can't do that when half of my face is covered.”

“Having a conversation with someone while wearing a mask is not something I find productive, especially when other options exist,” Ladapo said. 

In her statement, Polsky said the surgeon general’s “shameful excuse” is “not only absurd it is insulting,” CBS12 reported.

“It is especially insulting in that immediately following our abruptly cancelled meeting, he was bragging to staff that he was ‘having fun’ arguing the point with me,” she continued. 


Asked about Polsky's claims of death threats, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Memo: Media obsess over Trump's past as he eyes comeback DeSantis proposes civilian Florida State Guard military force he would control Haley hits the stump in South Carolina MORE (R) told reporters on Thursday that there is "no room" for threats.

"There's people that do a lot of things that I disagree with. I think the way that people have tried to treat the surgeon general has been unfortunate," DeSantis said. "And I don't think it's been right. At the same time, I would never countenance any of that. I think that that's wrong.”

The Florida Department of Health didn’t comment on Polsky’s claims of death threats when reached by The Hill, but said it is “saddened to hear of Senator Polsky’s recent diagnosis and wishes her well.” 

“While we weren’t aware of any specific Senate protocol, we will certainly ask members ahead of time and make necessary accommodations, such as meeting through Zoom or outdoors,” the department said.