Top Democratic officials are steering clear of the controversy surrounding Deandre Poole, vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.
Poole is the Florida Atlantic University instructor responsible for the “Jesus stomping” classroom assignment. The communications teacher has been placed on paid leave in wake of the uproar that followed a March 4 class on the Davie campus.
Poole assigned students to write Jesus on a sheet of paper, throw it on the floor and then step on it as part of a lesson on the impact of words. It attracted national attention, especially in conservative media outlets.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she was familiar with the incident at FAU’s Davie campus. But, she said, “I had no idea he was the vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.”
Wasserman Schultz said she has nothing to do with local party leadership decisions. “I don’t represent any of Palm Beach County and the Democratic National Committee doesn’t have an involvement in the decisions about the leadership of a county party,” she said.
Officers of county Democratic Party’s in Florida are elected by precinct committeemen and committeewomen from throughout each county. Those committeemen and committeewomen are elected by voters in August partisan primaries.
“At the end of the day, the First Amendment applies even when we don’t agree with the communication or the speech, and ultimately those Democratic Party positions are elected, and so that will be up to the elected leadership with the county Democratic Party in Palm Beach,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, said she too didn’t know Poole was a party officer. “I think it was an unfortunate exercise that he requested, but I’m going to stay out of the party politics here. I’ll leave it to the party officials,” she said.
Last year, when then-Palm Beach County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Alan Siegel told an interviewer at the Democratic National Convention that pro-Israel Christians want to see Jews “slaughtered,” prominent Democrats were quick to react.
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Rod Smith, who was then chairman of the state Democratic Party, called on Siegel to resign, which he eventually did.