More Surprising Revelations in Democratic Primary for Florida Agriculture Commissioner

Ryan Morales, Democratic candidate for Florida Agriculture Commissioner

The race for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture has undergone major changes over the past week, but there have been more surprising revelations ahead of the primary election. If Florida Democrats were worried about candidate Naomi Blemur, voters should also be extremely worried about a second Democrat in the race, Ryan Morales. It appears that the Florida Democratic Party has all but given up on vetting their candidates.

This weekend, past Facebook posts and comments from Democratic candidate Naomi Blemur were brought to light exposing her deeply held anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-choice convictions. These revelations follow a West Orlando News article published on August 2nd detailing Blemur’s problematic past statements, shady practices and a pattern of political and personal association with proven criminals. Naomi Blemur released a statement, but failed to adequately dispute any of the claims and many Democrats have rescinded their endorsements or warned Democratic voters to do their research before voting in this race.

That would be a smart decision, as another Democrat in the Agriculture Commissioner race, Ryan Morales, has come under scrutiny by independent investigations that have uncovered blatant violations of campaign finance laws, labor laws, and Florida criminal statutes. There are even court records that detail Morales’ history of violent actions. If Naomi Blemur’s previous words and positions disqualify her for many Democrats, than Morales’ previous actions should end his campaign.

Ryan Morales has been on the attack against Blemur on social media for being a “grifter” and a scam artist, but now questions are being raised about the integrity of Morales’ own campaign. In 2018, Morales was disqualified from the District 22 Florida State Senate race after multiple violations of campaign finance laws. The Florida Elections Commission found that Morales used remaining campaign funds to pay for his own personal effects, including gas, fast food, and groceries. The Florida elections commission subsequently subpoenaed Morales’ accounts and statements, but this has not stopped him from running again.

The 2022 Democratic primary for the Agriculture Commissioner is a statewide election with much higher stakes, yet Morales has been making extremely similar purchases from his campaign account this election cycle including a $9.99 Doordash subscription and a $6 purchase at Publix listed as a “staff meal.” He even charges the campaign $1.20 for an Orlando Sentinel subscription. It’s always disturbing when politicians use campaign accounts as personal piggy banks.

In 2020, Morales ran again and lost to Democrat Stephanie Dukes in the Democratic primary for Florida State Representative in District 32. During the course of these 2020 primary elections, “cybersecurity expert” and candidate Ryan Morales claimed that Russians had hacked his website. Complaints were filed by Morales but Russian involvement was never confirmed by any state or federal agency.

During this same time period, Morales refused to pay the salary of his former campaign communication director Audrey Wheeler, who took him to court where Morales was ordered to pay Wheeler $2,461. These events prompted Morales’ former Republican candidate Anthony Sabatini to make the following statement: “Too many politicians say one thing and do another – my Democratic opponent talks about fair wages and fair pay for women, but demonstrates that he clearly believes in neither.” It’s pretty bad when Democrats are being called out by conservative Republicans on issues like this.

However, the lack of payments did not stop there. Again in 2017, Morales was sued by TBF Financials, LLC over contract indebtedness (case number 2017 SC 004788 SP). The court issued a summary judgment in favor of TBF Financials, requiring Morales to pay roughly $6,000. Morales has shown that he has a record of poor financial planning and being untrustworthy, with these incidents showing a pattern of him refusing to pay an agreed upon fee on time.

The major finding of the independent investigation was Morales’ history of violent actions. Morales had a warrant issued for his arrest in New Jersey stemming from an assault and criminal mischief charge in 2002 (Ryan Morales, 09/24/1976, case number W2002 124). Morales also has an arrest for domestic battery against his wife in 2017 (Ryan Morales, case number 2017 MM 002245). Court records indicate that at 40-years-old, a 6’3”, 247 pound Ryan Morales pushed his wife to the ground in front of his children, resulting in his arrest. They also reflect a previous domestic violence charge associated with Ryan (“YES” is circled when asked if “Has previous [Domestic Violence] charge”), though the official records for that case are still being searched for. His wife filmed the incident during the time it occurred. The charge was eventually dropped after Ryan claimed he was defending his mother, but his wife filed a court order of “No Contact” with her or their children. (UPDATE: Ryan Morales’ wife publicly disputed an earlier published claim in this article of her filing for divorce after the incident. She said: “I never filed for divorce. With the help of friends and family, my husband and I worked on saving our marriage and keeping our family together – he is a great dad and our kids wouldn’t have it any other way.”)

There is a disturbing pattern of violence against others that plagues Morales’ past. His critics say this was not an isolated incident, but a trend of aggressive behaviors.

In addition to Morales’ questionable morals, these disturbing findings also pose an electability issue. Republican candidate and Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson is the main contender in the Republican primary, and as a close associate of Governor Ron DeSantis, Simpson will undoubtedly latch on to the checkered pasts of his opponents. As Florida leans more Republican, the nomination of Ryan Morales, a courtroom regular, could feasibly spell the end of the brief Democratic reign within the cabinet position.

Just like Blemur’s political problems, the serious issues surrounding Morales could also harm the Florida Democratic Party’s entire ticket in November.

CORRECTION: A previous version stated Ryan Morales’ wife filed for divorce, and she disputed the claim publicly, so it was removed from the article and replaced with her quote. A previous version also stated the FEC (federal election commission), instead of the Florida election commission and that has been updated.  


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