E-mail upsets state officials

An e-mail sent Thursday by Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFunicak, to all House members and staff has stirred controversy among some state leaders and legislators.

The e-mail showed a smiley face with a hand pointing downward to the message, “Don’t forget to pay your taxes…12 million illegal aliens are depending on you.” It was not perceived as humorous by several members of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus.

Rep. Marcelo Llorente, R-Miami, called the e-mail “inaccurate and inappropriate.”

FHLC Interim Chairman Rep. Luis Garcia Jr., D-Miami Beach, in an e-mail to House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, said Brown’s e-mail “has no place in the Florida House.”

Garcia explained to Rubio he had received several complaints from members of the caucus as well as Haitian Americans.

Nicole Crowell, a student intern for Garcia, said the irony of Brown’s e-mail is that it was sent on the same day that radio host Don Imus was fired from CBS for making racist and sexist remarks about members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.

“I personally believe government officials, anyone that represents a large group of people, should be careful in what they say,” said Crowell, 25, a public relations student from California. “He has a large amount of constituents who elected him to public office, and you think he would have learned from what’s going on with Imus.”

FHLC sent out an official press release in response to Brown’s e-mail.

In the notice, Rep. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, was quoted as saying, “The comments in this e-mail reflect an ignorance as to the founding of both this state and our country.”

The e-mail upset the representative, who while on route to Atlanta, took the time to respond.

“It deeply saddens me that this mentality still exists in what we consider to be a forward-looking government,” Rene Garcia said.

Brown was not available for comment at the time of press.