Chamber CEO Josh Wooten triples down on LGBT agenda
By John Labriola - Citrus County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Josh Wooten escalated his war of words with social conservatives on Friday as he vowed to continue pushing leftist ideology as head of the taxpayer-subsidized organization of local business elites.
Speaking at the Chamber's monthly luncheon at the exclusive Black Diamond Ranch, Wooten addressed the growing backlash over his inflammatory remarks on April 26 comparing critics of "LGBT Pride Month" library displays to segregationists, and his "up yours" gesture at conservatives at the May 9 Crystal River City Council meeting.
"There's been some noise on social media, and I really don't want to continue that debate because I think it's counterproductive, but I will say this: the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce will always stand for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion," Wooten said, invoking the left's code words for 'woke' sexual and racial identity politics, quotas, and victim-oppressor narratives.
His words were met with enthusiastic applause from the crowd of wealthy liberal elites, signaling their approval of his defamatory attacks on Christian conservatives and parental rights advocates. (See video above.)
But Wooten's increasingly defiant tone is not sitting well with conservatives like Margaret Peary of Crystal River.
"Does that mean your 'inclusion' agenda will also embrace those who have Christian conservative values?" Peary emailed Wooten in response to his latest provocation. "Can we also look forward to you keeping your emotions in check by not allegedly using the 'up yours' sign after you speak against those YOU perceive as opposed to diversity, equity and inclusion, aka not being WOKE?"
Wooten, a former one-term county commissioner, enjoys a close relationship with the far-left Citrus County Chronicle and has participated in the Chronicle's annual Diva Night, a Breast Cancer Month extravaganza at the Plantation on Crystal River that features drag queen performances. He is pictured here at a Diva Night with liberal reporter Mike Wright, who also can been seen giving Wooten a standing ovation in the video above.
The Citrus Chamber of Commerce is heavily subsidized by taxpayers. The county's 2021-22 budget included over $50,000 in direct funding to the Chamber. In addition, the Chamber was recently designated by the county commission as the coordinator of the Citrus One-Stop Recovery and Economic (CORE) Center, tasked with doling out $5.4 million in federal COVID relief funds to local businesses. Commission Chairman Ron Kitchen cast the lone "no" vote.
"When I came into office, the Chamber of Commerce was highly subsidized by county taxpayers, and the Chamber of Commerce is more highly subsidized now by county taxpayers than it's ever been," Kitchen said at the May 10 commission meeting. "I voted against that. I still think it's the wrong thing to do. I think it was a total waste of money for the results we got for it."
Frank Lovell of Inverness said county commissioners should transfer the Chamber's funding to the sheriff's office at their July budget hearing, in light of Sheriff Mike Prendergast's request for more money to fund critical needs.
"Give it to the sheriff," Lovell said.
In the meantime, urge your local Chamber-affiliated businesses to drop their membership in the leftist Chamber of Commerce or else risk losing your business. A directory of Chamber businesses can be found HERE.
You can also email your thoughts about Josh Wooten to the Citrus Chamber of Commerce board of directors here:
John Murphy <email@example.com>, Cregg Dalton <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Martin Drango <Martin.Drango@duke-energy.com>, Alyson Brennan <email@example.com>, Gwen Klaiber <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Vernon Lawter <email@example.com>, David Reed <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Debbie Reilly <Debbie.Reilly@citruslibraries.org>, Rob Wardlow <email@example.com>, Leslie Bollin <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Craig Stevens <email@example.com>, Jack Reynolds <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Chet White <email@example.com>, Janice Warren <firstname.lastname@example.org>
cc: Josh Wooten <Josh@citruscountychamber.com>