Nikki Fried is the only Democrat elected to statewide office in Florida, and in her role as Agriculture Commissioner, she’s in charge of running the state’s concealed carry licensing system. Fried was sued earlier this year after she suspended online license applications during the coronavirus pandemic. While the online system recently came back online, the lawsuit continues, though it’s understandable if Fried isn’t giving the litigation her full time and attention these days.
According to Politico, Fried’s currently busy purging her “inner circle” after allegations of physical and emotional abuse on the part of her boyfriend, who was recently escorted off the property of a Florida hotel by police after an argument with Fried.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried dismissed three top aides just before midnight Thursday, citing their complaints that her fiancé was “abusive” to her during a weekend argument at a Fort Lauderdale resort where police escorted him off the property.
Fried, the state’s top elected Democrat, told aides by text message late Wednesday that they could no longer be in her “inner circle” but offered to find them “other roles.” She said it “breaks my heart” they believed her fiancé was abusive during the incident, which occurred Saturday at the Westin Beach Resort and Spa. No one was hurt.
The Politico piece is too long to excerpt here, but be sure to read it in its entirety. According to the site, Fried’s main political advisor, Eric Johnson, resigned from Fried’s political committee before going public with his concerns.
“Nikki Fried has unlimited potential for what she can do, personally and as a politician,” Johnson said in an interview. “I think what has happened with her in this relationship is causing her to not be able to function, and eventually it could get her very, very hurt. On many occasions, she has described to me and other senior staff her relationship as mentally abusive, and on Saturday she called it physically abusive.”
“I simply can’t stand by and watch it happen,” Johnson said.
For their part, both Fried and her boyfriend, marijuana entrepreneur Robert “Jake” Bergmann, deny that any type of physical abuse took place, though Fried did acknowledge an argument between the two that she says shouldn’t have gotten to “any point that Jake would be escorted off a piece of property, but it does not rise to any levels of verbal or emotional abuse.”
Besides Johnson, Politico spoke with three other people who either work for Fried or are connected to Democratic politics in Florida who also expressed concern about what’s going on with the Ag Commissioner. Oddly, they don’t have any quotes, whether on the record or on background, from anyone close to Fried who’s willing to say that the allegations of abuse are off base and out of line (other than her boyfriend, of course).
I’m not a fan of Nikki Fried’s politics, and I’m sure if she even knew who I was she’d think I was a “tool of the gun lobby” or some nonsense like that, but that doesn’t mean I wish her any ill intent or personal harm. Honestly, the Politico story reads more like an intervention than a piece of “gotcha” journalism, and it really sounds like beyond the stress of the lawsuit she’s facing over the suspension of concealed carry applications, she’s going through some serious personal stuff at the moment.
I can’t wish her well in her legal fight, but I’m one of those few weirdos still left in this country who believe that there are some things that are deeper than politics. On a human level, I can and will say a prayer for Fried. I have no idea which side was more honest when talking to Politico, but I do know there’s really no excuse for emotional or physical abuse in a relationship, no matter how much love might be mixed in with the pain.