Hillsborough candidate Schock fires manager who used gay slur, attacked veteran in Facebook spat

Hillsborough commission candidate Tim Schock fired Davis.
Hillsborough commission candidate Tim Schock fired Davis.
Published Oct. 13, 2016

TAMPA — Republican Hills­borough County Commission candidate Tim Schock fired his campaign manager Wednesday after learning that in a recent political argument on Facebook, the manager used a homosexual slur and told a military veteran he didn't respect his service.

The campaign manager, Daniel Davis, also told a firefighter to "go die in a fire" and insinuated that a man's 1-year-old daughter would have to "whore herself out to get through college" because her father was poor.

The comments were made in a Facebook argument between two men. The original post has since been deleted but screenshots were provided to the Tampa Bay Times by one of the men, Keith Westerman of Delaware, who said the conversation took place Oct. 3.

The Times showed the screenshots to Schock, who fired Davis shortly afterward.

"You can't say whatever you want to say without consequence," Schock said. "I'm shocked and sick to my stomach. It's not something I tolerate in business or personal life, nor in my political life."

Davis did not respond to a request for comment. Schock said Davis told him some of the statements were taken out of context and posts from other people participating in the thread were deleted, but he acknowledged making many of the comments.

In the Facebook exchange, Davis criticized a veteran because of his political leanings, according to the screenshots.

"I do NOT thank you for your service," Davis wrote, "especially since you don't know what you were fighting for. What an embarrassment to our country."

"Absolutely ashamed that you wore that uniform."

Davis then quoted the oath of enlistment for servicemen and added: "So you can (expletive) off, (homosexual slur)."

Asked by Westerman what he did "for this country," Davis, who boasted he is well off, said, "I pay money out to poor (expletive) like you" for sex acts.

Westerman said he does not know Davis, but they have a mutual acquaintance, which is how they came to engage on Facebook. They had never conversed before last week.

"I'm a registered Republican, but to see this from a guy who is supposed to be campaigning for someone else and this is how they treat someone?" Westerman said. "I don't think this is the way your campaign manager should be treating someone they don't know, let alone anyone."

Westerman said he also sent the conversation to Schock through his Facebook page, but neither the candidate nor the campaign responded. Schock said he did not see them before the Times brought them to his attention.

"As somebody that's young, it's going to be a hard lesson for him to learn personally," Schock said.

Davis was a part-time employee who did not work on campaign messaging or strategy, Schock said. Davis, who is a student at the University of South Florida, was brought on as an intern and elevated to campaign manager after a vacancy opened in the campaign. He helped organize events and volunteers.

Davis recently appeared at a candidate forum in Temple Terrace on behalf of Schock. Since mid August, the campaign has paid Davis $1,855 for "campaign management."

Schock, a Tampa businessman, defeated former Commissioner Jim Norman in the August Republican primary for the open Hillsborough County District 6 commission seat. He is running against Democrat Pat Kemp in the Nov. 8 general election.

Contact Steve Contorno at Follow @scontorno.