Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sam Rashid resigns from Hillsborough airport board — but doesn't apologize

TAMPA — Republican activist Sam Rashid resigned from the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority on Friday.

"Today, I tender my resignation and wish you and your next appointee continued success," Rashid wrote to Gov. Rick Scott.

But Rashid did not apologize for the misogynistic Facebook slur that led to his resignation: He called public relations consultant Beth Leytham a "tax-payer subsidized slut" on Sept. 2.

Rashid said he quit because he believed media coverage of his comments distracted from what he considers the real issue: allegations of public influence in steering government contracts.

"Really, you guys will simply not let the past rest," he said. "Every time there's an article or statement or my name comes up, it's always going to refer back to this ridiculous situation.

"You've got a person that has literally stolen money from the taxpayers, and yet all we hear about is Rashid's slur against Leytham."

Rashid said he meant "slut" as a political slur — not a sexual slur.

Leytham said it was about time.

"It's absolutely welcome news for me," she said. "But I also think it's a victory for all the women in our community that the governor finally sent a message that that kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated."

Rashid is one of Hillsborough County's most influential Republicans. He made the comments about Leytham — herself an influential player in Tampa politics — in an attack on the county's transportation plan, Go Hillsborough.

Rashid, a critic of Go Hillsborough, said on Facebook that Leytham made "several million dollars" as an "unregistered lobbyist by having an intimately close relationship with three of our local elected officials."

His comments helped fuel criticism of Go Hillsborough. Critics have charged that a $1.35 million contract was awarded to consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff because it hired Leytham to help with public outreach.

Go Hillsborough started bleeding political support from there. County Administrator Mike Merrill recently asked the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office to investigate Go Hillsborough, in the hopes that clearing any legal or ethical issues will restore public confidence in the initiative.

Scott appointed Rashid to the Aviation Authority in June 2014.

This wasn't the first time Facebook had gotten Rashid in trouble, either. In May, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio appointed Rashid to a committee that advises Rubio and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on judicial appointees.

Rashid resigned after posting an item on Facebook saying some local judges were "dumbasses."

Rashid acknowledged that his strong political opinions — often expressed in strong language on Facebook — make it difficult for him to serve in public office.

"Now that I'm no longer held to a higher moral standard than anybody else, maybe I can get back to my normal mode of expression," he said. "I just decided it's not worth it for me.

"I'm tired of being held to a G-rated standard that I probably can't maintain."

Times staff writer Sue Carlton contributed to this report.

Sam Rashid resigns from Hillsborough airport board — but doesn't apologize 10/09/15 [Last modified: Friday, October 9, 2015 9:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn donates $1,000 to move Confederate monument

    Blogs

    TAMPA — The fundraising effort to remove a Confederate monument from downtown Tampa has tripled its haul since Hillsborough County commissioners tied the statue’s fate to the success of the campaign.

    A check from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn for $1,000 to remove the Confederate monument from downtown Tampa.
  2. President Trump: Nation's culture being 'ripped apart' by Civil War statue removals

    National

    WASHINGTON — Showing his characteristic refusal to back down in the face of criticism, President Donald Trump deepened his defense of Confederate war memorials Thursday, sending out a series of messages on Twitter that adopted the language and arguments of white nationalists who have opposed their removal.

    President Donald Trump points to members of the media as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday. Republican leaders on Wednesday tiptoed around Trump's extraordinary comments on white supremacists.  [Associated Press]
  3. With election heating up, Bill Nelson floods Tampa Bay

    Blogs

    Sen. Bill Nelson seems to have set up a residency in Tampa Bay, a crucial area for his upcoming re-election campaign.

    Nelson campaigns with his wife in Orlando in 2012
  4. Martinez Middle School evacuated after bomb threat

    Crime

    LUTZ — Bob Martinez Middle School has been evacuated after someone called in a bomb threat, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

  5. Another local Confederate display sparks division, this one over name of the war

    News

    TAMPA — While the Hillsborough County commission was wrestling over the future of Confederate monument at the county courthouse, a lawsuit has been playing out in court over how best to represent the Civil War across town at Veterans Memorial Park.

    Veterans Memorial Park and Museum hosts displays marking America's wars and hosts ceremonies on special occasions, including  Pearl Harbor Day. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]