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Miami Beach Latino Democrat "censured" by own party for spreading Covid misinformation

"One of the many differences between us and the opposition is that we hold our members to account when they cross the line," the Democratic party chair said about commissioner Ricky Arriola.
Florida seniors have their temperatures taken before receiving the second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at Jackson Health System in Miami on Feb. 8, 2021.Marta Lavandier / AP

MIAMI — A Democratic Miami Beach commissioner was “censured” Tuesday by his own party for spreading false and inflammatory comments on topics that range from Covid-19 to the Capitol riots.

The Miami-Dade Democratic Party passed a resolution with 98 percent support to “censure” and “disavow” statements made by Commissioner Ricky Arriola, though the party stated it cannot legally remove Arriola’s affiliation with the party.

Arriola had amplified unproven Covid-19 treatments, pushed herd immunity, and compared the Capitol riots to the Black Lives Matter protests, according to a press release by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.

Ricky Arriola in 2016.
Ricky Arriola in 2016.Johnny Nunez / Getty Images file

“There is absolutely no room under our tent for the dangerous disinformation and racist rhetoric being peddled by Commissioner Arriola," Miami-Dade Party Chair Steve Simeonidis said in the statement.

“One of the many differences between us and the opposition is that we hold our members to account when they cross the line,” Simeonidis stated.

Arriola tweeted a story in August from “The Gateway Pundit” that said “JAIL FAUCI,” referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The story claimed an international study showed countries with early use of hydroxychloroquine had 79 percent lower mortality rate.

Former President Donald Trump also promoted the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine even when the Federal Drug Administration was cautioning against its use.

At a Miami Beach Commission meeting last year, Arriola suggested people in the community, starting with first responders, should voluntarily get infected with Covid-19 as a way of developing immunity.

Arriola said in an emailed statement that being censured by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party is “like being censured by a knitting club.”

“This organization only knows how to lose elections, as evidenced by their results this past November.”

He pointed out that former Florida candidate for governor Andrew Gillum was not censured after he was found inebriated and unresponsive in a Miami Beach hotel room with baggies of suspected crystal methamphetamine nearby.

“Apparently that behavior is OK w the DEC but exercising your 1st Amendment rights is not if they don’t conform to the official party line. This is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. They major in minor things,” Arriola’s statement said.

Arriola was elected Miami Beach Commissioner in 2015 and was reelected in 2019. His term ends in 2023.

Arriola is now barred from appointed membership or leadership within the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee (DEC) until “a majority of the DEC sees fit to lift the bar.”

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