St. Pete city council candidate under fire after controversial tweets come to light

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The most prominent tweet on Scott Orsini’s Twitter page is a lengthy apology.

The candidate for St. Petersburg council posted it after previous tweets surfaced. They include disparaging comments toward gays, women and vegans.

Orsini says the Tweets were meant to be funny and not serious, going on to say he’s posted on Twitter nearly 30,000 and most are simple, non-offensive tweets.

District 1 opponent John Hornbeck spoke to 8 On Your Side about the controversy.

“Certainly speaks about this maturity. Some of these were pretty recently. You got to kind of live up to the consequences,” he said Monday.

Hornbeck wants his focus to remain on the issues in the race, like keeping the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg and fighting the opioid crisis.

He says he’ll be a council member for all if elected.

“I do believe what makes St. Pete such a great city is our inclusiveness in everybody, and we take a lot of pride in everybody,” Hornbeck said.

The questionable tweets serve as a good reminder in the age of social media.

“You got to really watch what you say because all the past is the past, it stays with you. Like a tattoo, it never goes away,” said resident Jean Pierre.

Another tweet by Orsini reportedly took a swipe at Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw, with Orsini writing, “I actually forgot he was black.”

A spokesman for Orsini’s campaign tells 8 On Your Side he’ll appear on a radio talk show with Shaw soon.

Another District 1 candidate, Robert Blackmon, sent the following statement to 8 On Your Side:

“I don’t know Scott well, but it seems that none of us really do. While surprised, I will not comment on his intent or meaning and let the voters decide. I am focused on being the best candidate, and representative of our district, that I can be. I am committed to staying focused on the issues, and I wish Scott the best going forward

Orsini publicly released the following statement:

Upon entering the race for the City of St Petersburg District 1 council seat, I have had the humbling opportunity to review my past social media activities. In the course of reviewing the past 10 years of my digital life – approximately 29,000 tweets, retweets, and replies to tweets – I found that in an effort to be humorous I tweeted a small number of tweets to and about women and the LGTBQ community that are crass, insensitive, and immature. One particular tweet in 2013 mentions the LGTBQ community in an unflattering light that I know to be insensitive and immature. These are two constituencies that I have fought hard for in my professional career and have a magnitude of respect for.

I sincerely apologize.

Though my tweets were insensitive: they did not bully; they did not incite violence; and they did not discriminate. They were childish tweets that were made in an attempt to be clever or humorous. They were not. This is a humiliating and humbling experience and one that I will not repeat.
My tweets used insensitive language, is sexually explicit in nature, is generally immature, and does not represent who I am. There is no excuse for this behavior. Despite my embarrassment, I thank 2013 Scott Orsini for not only reminding me that Twitter should not be a venue for sophomoric humor, but instead a platform for exchanging democratic ideas and a marketplace of change.

I have elected to use my past tweets as an opportunity to make myself and St Pete’s digital community a better, safer place through my position as District 1’s next city councilperson. I remain committed to our city’s moves toward sustainability, increases in affordable housing opportunities, and providing policies that promote small business success.

Next week, I will announce two community events that will address cyberbullying and insensitive online communications. Going forward, I will volunteer time to discuss cyberbullying and online insensitivity at schools and in the workforce. I hope that my experience is a lesson for the next generation to understand how powerful of a tool social media can truly be.

Together, we can make St Pete’s online discourse more respectful to all.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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