Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried denies there is a provocative sex tape of her floating around.
The denial, issued Friday on Twitter, immediately prompted a question: What sex tape?
Fried, the only statewide-elected Democrat in Florida, then drew comments that suggest she’s pulling a Jussie, as in Smollett, to jumpstart her flailing gubernatorial campaign, since the supposed rumor of such a tape had been a well-kept secret on the campaign trail.
“It’s absurd that I have to dignify this, but there is no sex tape,” Fried tweeted out of the blue around noon Friday. “Sorry to disappoint. Also sorry basically every successful woman has to deal with these types of rumors.”
The Washington Times, reporting on what it called an “unexplained” tweet, noted, “The public comment prompted GOP operatives to question Ms. Fried’s denial, and to whom she was denying it.”
A Fried campaign source told the Times that Fried wanted to deflate “old rumors” of such a tape that apparently began circulating when she worked in Tallahassee as a lawyer and a lobbyist.
“She wanted to clear it up for anyone who had gotten wind of this new rumor,” the unnamed source told the Times.
Yet it seems no one felt such a wind.
The Washington Examiner reported, “The statement was displayed prominently on her campaign website Friday, but it appeared to have been taken down as of late Saturday.”
The statement by Fried appeared about 24 hours after Christina Pushaw, spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted a photo of press conferences held by the incumbent and his Democratic challenger.
The photo of the DeSantis event showed dozens of people in attendance, while Fried drew about one dozen.
As for samples of some of the attention Fried got from her denial:
Jeff Charles, a columnist for the conservative website RedState, tweeted, “BREAKING: Florida gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried claims person blackmailing her over sex tape said she’d better pay up because ‘this is MAGA country.’”
Another syndicated columnist, Matt Barber, added, “Smells like your campaign planted the rumor to shock life into your failed campaign. Your poll numbers are humiliating.”
On Saturday night, the conservative website Twitchy.com noted, “If anyone did start a rumor about a sex tape, they certainly didn’t get any traction with it. There’s, like, nothing on social media about it.”
Meanwhile, for further evidence Fried seems to be losing sight of Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist in the primary contest, she revived the DeSantis-is-Hitler attack she first launched in January, as The Free Press reported at the time.
Last week, she told WPTV DeSantis’ priorities “mirror some of the actions that were taken by Hitler on his rise to power.”