TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — State Representative Jackie Toledo is suing her former campaign manager claiming he sexually harassed her as she ran for Congress.
Toledo’s lawsuit claims Political Operative Fred Piccolo sent text messages and photos that were “not only inappropriate, but particularly offensive.”
Several images appeared to show a shirtless Piccolo in his underwear standing in front of a mirror. One of the photos is accompanied by the text message, “Monday motivation.”
Toledo’s attorney Dale Swope said the images and text messages go far beyond professional boundaries.
“This is a fairly widespread problem within Florida politics where we are still dominated by this Good Ol’ Boy network, where women are seen by some men as sort of a sideshow,” Swope said.
Another image appeared to show Piccolo naked in the shower.
“It is not appropriate, it should never be appropriate, it should never be thought to be okay. There are boundaries,” Swope added.
Efforts to contact Piccolo on Tuesday were not successful, but he told the news organization Politico, “I have known Jackie Toledo for 10 years, I thought we were friends. At no point did the banter we engage in exceed those boundaries,”
The lawsuit claims “Mr. Piccolo was aware of the important role he played in Ms. Toledo’s electoral campaign and the position of trust he maintained to the Toledo Campaign and Ms. Toledo; despite this, Mr. Piccolo continued to send these patently inappropriate, harassing, and offensive sexual text messages and images into July 2022, as Ms. Toledo’s campaign intensified.”
The lawsuit also shows Toledo was having trouble getting Piccolo to focus only on her campaign.
When Toledo texted Piccolo and asked him why he’s not 100% available for the campaign, Piccolo responded by saying, “the governor has asked me to direct the communications efforts of the State Attorney’s office here in Hillsborough. After he fired Andrew Warren. Doesn’t mean I’m leaving the campaign, I can still do work for both.”
Former State Attorney Andrew Warren said the text messages show his removal from office by the Governor was purely a political move.
“I was suspended for political reasons. The governor appointed a political lackey in my place and he’s sending political operatives to help run the office,” Warren said. “I mean, this is why it’s so dangerous because you have someone who is not accountable to anyone in the office who is now serving in this position. That’s why anyone who believes in elections and democracy should be offended.”