Suspended Florida Official Kenneth Lewis Fired Over Anti-Orlando Facebook Post

Image: Florida Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Lewis
Florida Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Lewis was suspended Friday for violating the State Attorney's Office's social media policy.WESH

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

The Florida assistant state attorney who was suspended for posting an offensive rant about Orlando in the hours following the massacre at a nightclub in the city has been fired, Florida's state attorney said Thursday.

"Downtown Orlando has no bottom. ... If you live down there you do it at your own risk and at your own peril. If you go down there after dark there is seriously something wrong with you," Kenneth Lewis wrote on his Facebook page, hours after 49 were killed at the city's Pulse nightclub.

Disciplinary documents filed by the state attorney's office, revealed that Lewis wrote a second post a couple hours later that read: "All Orlando nightclubs should be permanently closed. With or without random gunmen they are zoos, utter cesspools of debauchery."

Lewis was suspended last Friday, pending an investigation into the posts. Florida State Attorney Jeff Ashton said that the investigation had one purpose: to find out whether Lewis wrote the posts. Once Lewis admitted to penning the comments himself, Ashton said he decided to fire him.

Lewis was temporarily reassigned and forced to undergo sensitivity training in 2014 after posting an insulting comment about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and a Mother's Day message that read in part: "Happy Mother's Day to all the crack hoes out there. It' never too late to turn it around, tie your tubes, clean up your life and make difference to someone out there that deserves a better mother."

Florida Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Lewis was suspended Friday for violating the State Attorney's Office's social media policy.WESH

Ashton wrote in Lewis' recent termination letter that a social media policy implemented by the office in 2015 was a direct result of the 2014 posts written by Lewis.

"Based upon our extensive discussions in 2014, you, more than anyone, understand how seriously I take this issue," Ashton wrote. "I explained to you at the time that public trust in the criminal justice system can only be maintained when those empowered to execute the law are, and are perceived to be, free of bias in the execution of their duties."

Ashton pointed out that he fought calls to fire Lewis in 2014, but this time the rant went too far. "Apparently, your first response to the massacre of dozens of your fellow citizens was to suggest the enter city of Orlando be leveled," Ashton wrote to Lewis.

Lewis wrote a letter to Ashton the day before he was fired, arguing that his post regarding Orlando was made on his own time and was not work-related, and he felt other employees had violated the social media policy and had not been equally disciplined.

Lewis will be officially terminated from his post on June 30. "Even absent the existence of the social media policy, I would have found your actions sufficient grounds for termination," Ashton wrote.