'A slap in the face': DeSantis torched for vetoing $150K in mental health funding for Pulse nightclub survivors

'A slap in the face': DeSantis torched for vetoing $150K in mental health funding for Pulse nightclub survivors
Ron DeSantis speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Gage Skidmore
Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 response will doom his chances of becoming president: leading Florida Democrat

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is being called out for his failure to uphold a promise he made following the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Now, one of the Pulse Nightclub survivors is sharing his reaction to DeSantis' latest move.

According to The Washington Post, DeSantis recently took action to impose a line-item veto that canceled more than $150,000 in funding for mental health counseling to assist the nightclub shooting survivors and their grieving family members. On Tuesday, June 2, Pulse Nightclub survivor Brandon Wolf recalled his conversation with DeSantis and the promise he has broken.

He tweeted a 2019 photo of himself and the governor as DeSantis vowed to continue funding the initiative. "Here's @GovRonDeSantis in 2019, standing on hallowed ground, promising me that he would always support those of us impacted by the Pulse nightclub shooting. Today, he vetoed mental health services for us," Wolf tweeted. "I will never forget."

During an interview with The Post, Wold admitted that he believed his previous meeting with DeSantis would open doors. However, that is not the case now.

"I had hope that [meeting] was the beginning of a new kind of relationship with the governor's mansion," Wolf told The Post. "But it turns out two years later that it was a lie."

The veto comes during Pride Month just days before the fifth anniversary of the shooting. The timing of the disheartening veto has not been missed by members of the LGBTQ community. In fact, Florida state Rep. Carlos. G. Smith (D), also Florida's first openly gay Latino legislator, took to Twitter as he sounded off with his reaction to DeSantis' veto.

"VETOING funding for [Pulse Orlando] survivors days before the 5-year remembrance is heartless. VETOING funds for LGBTQ homeless youth is indefensible," Smith tweeted. "During #Pride2021 following your attack on trans youth? [Gov. Ron DeSantis] what did LGBTQ people do to you to earn your contempt?"

Despite the criticism and timing of the veto, DeSantis' spokesperson released a statement in his defense. "Governor DeSantis has been a champion on mental health since day one — and he absolutely supports each and every Floridian who has experienced such horrific trauma, which has a lifelong impact on survivors," Christina Pushaw, DeSantis's spokeswoman, said.

However, staff members at The LGBT+ Center Orlando—which was the facility that conducted mental health counseling for survivors—argue otherwise. The publication reports that they have noted: "the governor's veto would definitively hurt Pulse survivors and other LGBT residents in the area."

Joél Morales, director of operations at The Center Orlando, also weighed in with his remarks as he criticized the Republican governor's decision. "We only requested $150,000, which is the bare minimum to just sustain the program as it is," Morales told The Post. "It was a slap in the face. I bawled just because of all the hard work our community is doing and the healing that still needs to be done."

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