The Florida Republican county commissioner, who was criticized this week for a Facebook post that appeared to joke about running over Trump protesters with snowplows, claims he was being “facetious” about the state’s mild climate.
Brevard County Commission Vice Chair Bryan Lober last week responded to a Facebook thread where users discussed planned protests of President Trump’s campaign kickoff in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday evening. The insinuation that Lober was joking about hitting protesters with a snowplow is tied to a comment that was posted just before Lober’s.
A user wrote: “Word of wisdom to the protesters Beware of the Dodge Chargers!” Lober responded to the remark saying, “I wouldn’t recommend using a snowplow. It might look intentional,” followed by a winky-face.
The comment posted just above Lober’s has been widely interpreted as a reference to the vehicle driven by the man who killed Heather Heyer at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia two years ago. However, Lober told TPM the remark was taken out of context, primarily on the front that convicted murderer James Fields was driving a Dodge Challenger, not a Charger, a different model. Lober told TPM that the commenter was likely referencing the Charger because it is “frequently used by law enforcement departments nationwide.”
Lober also claimed his snowplow remark alluded to an incident involving Trump protesters and a snowplow in Boston this year, in which the snowplow driver has been charged by police.
“Referencing a recent 2019 incident in which a snowplow driver allegedly splashed anti-Trump protesters with slush, I jokingly stated that I would not use a snowplow,” he told TPM in an email. “This post was intended to be patently facetious as the likelihood of law enforcement using a snowplow to splash protesters with snow in central Florida is essentially nonexistent.”
“As a major proponent of the First Amendment, at no point did or would I ever advocate for running over or otherwise physically injuring anyone for peacefully engaging in a First Amendment activity,” he added.
Lober also came under fire for a Facebook post he made about the Brevard County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Stacey Patel, arguing, essentially, that she shouldn’t have children.
“I can only imagine what a scourge on humanity (and on our economy) her offspring would prove to be given that her litter would likely be raised with an entitlement mentality, zero work ethic and taught the hypocritically racist and sexist position that the white man is evil,” Lober reportedly said on Facebook. “Unfortunately those least capable of properly raising children typically procreate without a second thought.”
The Republican commissioner acknowledged the abortion comments were in “poor taste,” but he didn’t back off calling her “racist” or “bigoted.”
“While the comment regarding abortion may have been in poor taste, the individual addressed is a proudly bigoted and divisive racist and sexist who clearly believes the rules do not apply to her,” he said. “She says, in complete seriousness, what I would never say in jest. While she preaches civility, her action and commentary undermine our Constitution and are patently incompatible with any civilized society.”
Lober shared a screenshot of a Facebook post in which Patel said that “under no circumstances should the final Democratic ticket be two white men.”
Lober told TPM that he and his wife have received death threats over the incident and condemned the attack in Charlottesville.
“I have never said anything whatsoever supportive of the Charlottesville massacre as I find it abhorrent that anyone would be killed (or even threatened with death) for expressing protected speech,” he said.
Lober’s colleagues have expressed their disdain for the vice chair’s Facebook posts, with fellow commissioner Curt Smith saying he intends to address the situation at the next County Commissioner meeting in July. Patel, the local Democratic chair, has told local media that Lober should resign.
But when asked how this ordeal will impact his political career, Lober quipped: “The term strikes me as an oxymoron. I’m not a career politician and I’ve never planned or desired to become one.”