Representatives of Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis say a former Hialeah lawmaker who resigned 12 years ago after using racial slurs during a drunk and threatening tirade with a colleague is not co-chairing a Coral Gables fundraiser next week, despite what’s stated on materials produced by the campaign.
The Miami Herald on Thursday obtained an invitation for a $10,000-a-head fundraiser for DeSantis at the Biltmore Hotel, scheduled for the evening of Sept. 20. Luminaries like former Gov. Jeb Bush were named as chairs of the event, but a co-chair list included a more infamous name: Ralph Arza.
Arza resigned as a state representative in 2006 after he and a cousin left threatening messages on the voice mail of a fellow lawmaker who had filed an ethics complaint alleging that Arza used racial slurs when discussing Miami-Dade’s black schools chief. Arza had previously denied calling Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Rudy Crew a “n—-er,” but admitted that he used the word in recorded voice messages left for state Rep. Gus Barreiro.
Arza blamed the incident with Barreiro on alcohol and denied that he was a racist, but pleaded guilty in 2007 to two misdemeanor counts of tampering with a witness and received 18 months probation. He is now a lobbyist.
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