Yesterday, State Representative Randy Fine withdrew an appropriations bill for $2 million for the Brevard Zoo Aquarium program. This action comes after Fine held a controversial election fundraiser for his campaign at the zoo last month. Fine’s early advertisements for the fundraiser implied that the Brevard Zoo, a 501(c)3 non-profit, was “hosting” the fundraiser on behalf of Fine’s campaign.
The Brevard Zoo requested Fine change his marketing materials to be more accurate, and not give the false impression that they were holding the event FOR him. The event was booked at the Zoo’s Nyami Nyami River Lodge; a special events venue that they rent out for weddings and other events. Although Fine’s original advertisements never mentioned the actual location of the Nyami Nyami River Lodge, only that the Brevard Zoo was holding the event for him.
Fine claimed that his fundraiser was extremely successful, and had over 300 people in attendance. However, those who attended the event stated that not even 100 people were present, and there were rows of roped-off “reserved parking” for the event that remained empty. The capacity of the venue itself is a maximum of 275 according to the Zoo’s website.
A protest of about 40-50 people gathered at the entrance of the zoo, including members of the LGBTQ+ community voicing their displeasure with Fine and his attack on their community. Many employees of the Brevard Zoo are also members of the LGBTQ+ community as well.
Keith Winsten, the Brevard Zoo Executive Director stated after the event that he would ask the zoo’s board of directors to consider whether it wants to pursue a policy change barring the zoo from renting its facilities for campaign events after the current election cycle ends in Novermber 2024.
It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last when Fine retaliates against organizations and his own constituents if they so as much consider not complying with his demands.
So far Fine is running unopposed to replace Senator Debbie Mayfield who has termed out. However, he has not been able to garner almost any support from within his own district as we reported yesterday. He has raised over $300,000 from outside of Brevard County and across the country. He is expected to have a serious primary opponent in the near future, with backing from the highest levels.