- State Representative Joe Harding resigned from the House of Representatives, as of Thursday night
- Harding’s resignation comes just 24 hours after he appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to a six-count indictment against him
- Harding was indicted on a series of charges Wednesday night that included wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements
- Harding was subsequentially removed from all committee assignments
- If found guilty, Harding faces maximum terms of imprisonment of up to 20 years for Wire Fraud, 10 years for Money Laundering, and 5 years for Making False Statements
State GOP Representative Joe Harding resigned from the Florida Legislature Thursday night, just 24 hours after he appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to a six-count indictment against him.
Harding’s resignation is effective immediately and vacates House District 24. Harding has served in the state House since 2020 when he defeated Democrat Barbara Byram in the General Election for Florida House District 22.
On Wednesday night, Harding was indicted on a series of charges that included wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in an alleged scheme to defraud the Small Business Association and obtain coronavirus-related business loans, according to federal prosecutors assigned to the Northern District of Florida.
The indictment alleges that between December 1, 2020, and March 1, 2021, Harding committed two acts of wire fraud.
The indictment also says Harding fraudulently obtained coronavirus-related small business loans. In the process, the indictment reads, Harding illegally “caused wire communications to be transmitted in interstate commerce.”
Harding, however, maintains his innocence.
“There will be a time when I can tell my story in detail, and I will,” Harding said in a statement. “For now, let me reassure my constituents and the taxpayers that I repaid every penny of the loan I obtained, and I have done my best to cooperate fully with all authorities.”
Following the breaking of his indictments, House Speaker Paul Renner issued a statement that Harding had been removed from all committee assignments.
“After further consultation with Representative Harding, I understand and respect his decision to submit his resignation. Any questions about his case should be directed to his legal counsel,” said Renner. “The Florida House remains focused on next week’s all-important special session on property insurance, hurricane recovery, and toll relief.”
If found guilty, Harding faces maximum terms of imprisonment of up to 20 years for Wire Fraud, 10 years for Money Laundering, and 5 years for Making False Statements.
According to the release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the investigation was jointly conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Office of Inspector General, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Justin M. Keen and David P. Byron.
Harding captured media attention earlier this year after he sponsored the controversial Parental Rights in Education legislation that limits education curriculum and dialogue.