A GOP official from Okaloosa County, Florida appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve on a state regulatory board was at the Capitol during the insurrection on January 6, USA TODAY reported on Tuesday.
"After the rally, as a crowd marched toward the Capitol, some of the Florida contingent peeled off. But Sandra Atkinson – who had just been elected chair of the county's Republican Party – kept marching. The walk would put her in the middle of an insurrection, and eventually, of the dilemma now facing likely presidential contender Gov. Ron DeSantis," reported Will Carless. "According to a USA TODAY review of multiple videos from the day and an interview with a close Republican Party associate, Atkinson proceeded to the Capitol and through the doors. The same kind of activity has led to criminal charges for many who stormed the Capitol Jan. 6 – charges for unlawful entry, picketing or other nonviolent acts."
Atkinson was appointed just two months later to the Florida Board of Massage Therapy.
"'Atkinson served in and received an honorable discharge from the United States Army,' DeSantis' office noted when announcing her appointment, 'and trained at the Soothing Arts Massage School,'" said the report. "Giving a political appointment then to a Jan. 6 participant puts DeSantis’ core political dilemma in sharp focus now."
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It is unclear whether DeSantis knew at the time that Atkinson was in the crowd that stormed the Capitol. His office has refused to answer questions about it.
This comes as a number of other decisions by DeSantis, who is reportedly set to announce his bid for president this week, have backfired. A bill he signed this month cracking down on the employment on undocumented labor has caused immediate shortages in agriculture and construction workers around the state. Meanwhile, a policy he enacted that pays police officers who defied COVID-19 mandates in other states to relocate to Florida has attracted a number of officers with misconduct complaints, and even charges for kidnapping and murder.