Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Florida State Rep. Shawn Harrison, was sacked after claiming students who appeared on TV criticizing lawmakers on gun control were actually crisis actors and not pupils at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The aide, Benjamin Kelly, sent a second email to Times reporter Alex Leary with a link to a conspiracy video saying, "There is a clip on you tube that shows Mr. Hogg out in California". Less than two hours later, he said in a tweet that Kelly had been fired, and apologized to grieving families for any pain Kelly's actions caused.
"EXPOSED: School Shooting Survivor Turned Activist David Hogg's Father in FBI, Appears To Have Been Coached On Anti-Trump Lines", read a headline on Gateway Pundit.
The claim was made in an email to a reporter. The students are survivors of a mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida, school Wednesday that left 17 people dead and dozens of others wounded after a 19-year-old walked into the school and opened fire.
The site claimed Hogg, a 17-year-old student at Stoneman Douglas, who has said he wants to be a journalist, was "coached on anti-Trump lines" by his father, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent.
Their strong response to the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has made them a target of online trolls, conspiracy theorists and even some conservatives, including former Republican Congressman Jack Kingston, of Georgia, who suggested on CNNthat students were being used as props for left-wing groups as they plan demonstrations to protest gun laws.
After the February 14 shooting, Hogg was among the outspoken students who criticized politicians, including U.S. President Donald Trump, as they demanded stricter gun laws.
Florida Legislator's Aide Is Fired After He Calls Parkland Students 'Actors'
Shawn Harrison said he was "appalled" by the comments made by his district secretary, Benjamin Kelly, earlier in the day and supported a decision to have him terminated.
Kelly sent out his own tweet about 7 p.m.: "I've been terminated from the State House".
"I'm not a crisis actor", Hogg told CNN's Anderson Cooper on AC360 Tuesday.
"We never had an active shooter drill at my school, and though we did talk about what to do in this type of situation, nothing could have prepared us for this", he said.
But Broward County Schools superintendent Robert Runcie vouched for both students personally to the Times.
"I do not share his opinion and he did so without my knowledge", Harrison said. "We just want to make a change... we're not actors... no one is paying us to do this... we just want to make a difference".
Imagine Dragons to play SPAC
Registration for free access to the Ticketmaster Verified Fan presale began today and runs through February 25 at 3 p.m. Imagine Dragons last performed in the Bay Area in October at the Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View.