Over the weekend, Florida Surgeon General Joe Ladapo stirred controversy after a planned meeting with state Senator Tina Polsky (D) went south. The controversial health official is accused of refusing to wear a mask, which resulted in Polsky asking him to leave her office. However, alleged comments made on his way out of her office are in question, and now Ladapo is facing criticism from not only Democrats but Republicans as well. In a statement, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R) criticized Ladapo, expressing disappointment in his “unprofessional” behavior.
Polsky is scheduled to undergo radiation therapy to combat a recent stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. In meeting with Ladapo, he was asked to wear a mask during their meeting in her office, and he is reported to not have complied. In being asked to leave, the top Florida health official is alleged to have remarked “sometimes I try to reason with unreasonable people for fun.” This has been disputed by a Department of Health spokesperson, but now Florida Republicans are expressing disapproval at Ladapo’s alleged comments.
In a memo directed to all members and Senate staff, Simpson called the incident “disappointing,” adding that “it shouldn’t take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other’s level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic.”
Furthermore, Simpson wrote that “what occurred in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate,” noting that “while there is no mask mandate in the Senate, Senators and staff can request social distancing and masking within their own officers.”
“If visitors to the Senate fail to respect these requests, they will be asked to leave,” he concluded.
Polsky expressed disappointment in not being able to meet with Ladapo because she “really wanted to interview him.”
“It was unfortunate that I didn’t. But I felt really uncomfortable,” she admitted.