Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell
File photo

UPDATE: 

Facebook has reversed itself and approved the ad in question – likely because of the media firestorm around the rejection.

Caldwell appeared on Fox News Thursday to discuss the controversy.

ORIGINAL STORY: 

State Representative Matt Caldwell, Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, is hopping mad after Facebook rejected an ad on its site that promoted his endorsement by the NRA.

Caldwell attached Facebook’s rejection notice to the news release attacking the decision.

Rejected Caldwell Facebook ad
Provided by Caldwell campaign

“Facebook’s liberal agenda is keeping our campaign for Commissioner of Agriculture from sharing our message,” Caldwell said. “Facebook has mislabeled our ad in an effort to censor our pro-Second Amendment support and endorsement from the NRA.”

Following allegations that Russian agents used Facebook to mettle in the 2016 presidential election, the company made it more difficult to run political advertising on the site. All political content must now include a disclaimer. The Caldwell incident appears to be a case of Facebook declining the ad because “it can’t promote the sale of weapons or ammunition.” Ownership of a gun is granted under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.

“…our Second Amendment rights are inalienable. These God-given rights were enshrined in the Constitution by our Founding Fathers and Facebook’s censorship regime cannot get away with waging a war against conservative ideals and our pro-liberty message. Washington, Jefferson, and Madison are the names on the U.S. Constitution, not Zuckerberg, said Caldwell referencing Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Caldwell’s endorsement by the NRA Political Victory Fund is especially important in the race for Agriculture Commissioner. That statewide office is responsible for issuing permits for concealed weapons.

Current Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has been under fire for his office’s handling of hundreds of applications between 2016-2017. Nearly 300 permits were issued to unqualified Floridians. They were later revoked.

On Monday, one of Caldwell’s Republican opponents, State Senator Denise Grimsley said, if elected, she would order a top-down review of the concealed weapons permit program.

Caldwell is locked in a four-way battle for the Republican nomination for Agriculture Commissioner with Grimsley, former State Representative Baxter Troutman and Mike McCalister. The winner of the August 28 primary will face-off with one of three Democrats in the November general election.