Orange County GOP official says he shared Parkland conspiracy theory 'to stimulate discussion'

Orange County Republican group vice chair Louis Marin defends post

By Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

A screengrab of a link shared to Facebook by the Orange County Republican Executive Committee vice chairman Louis Marin.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The vice chairman of Orange County's Republican Executive Committee, Louis Marin is defending his social media posts sharing conspiracy theories, saying he shared them as a way to have an open discussion and debate online.

The liberal watchdog blog Media Matters for America first exposed several posts made by Marin on Facebook. The posts fueled conspiracy theories including calling the Parkland high school shooting, where 17 students and faculty were killed in February, a hoax.

A screengrab of a link shared to Facebook by the Orange County Republican Executive Committee vice chairman Louis Marin.

"Does this stunning email indicated Parkland Shooting was just another FALSE FLAG designed to take YOUR Guns?" One of the posts shared in a screenshot on the Media Matters for America website read.

Another, shared by Marin also claimed that a DNC staffer's murder was linked to former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton and WikiLeaks.

These are just two of several posts spread by conspiracy theorists Marin shared to a private Facebook group. On Friday, he said he shared them not because he believes them, but because he wanted to start a discussion online.

"These posts are designed to stimulate discussion and debate on a private Facebook page," Marin's spokesperson said in a statement. "Marin would've also explained that at no time did any of these shared posts generate any vibrant conversation because most of our followers are intellectual adults."

News 6 asked if Marin if he would explain further in an on-camera interview, however, he declined in a text message to be interviewed in person for this story. 

"I do not want to waste any more time on a 'nothing burger' biased story designed as a hit piece," Marin said to the interview request.

A screengrab of a link shared to Facebook by the Orange County Republican Executive Committee vice chairman Louis Marin.

The controversy comes less than two weeks after another elected GOP official in the same committee, Kathy Gibson came under fire for a racists meme posted on her Facebook page attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. She told News 6 her Facebook page had been hacked. 

"My response is that my Facebook account was hacked. I am not a racist. I never have been," Gibson said. 

The meme falsely claimed that Andrew Gillum, the first black nominee for governor in Florida and he wanted blacks to be "paid back" because of slavery. Gibson said it’s an election year and she feels the person who she said hacked her page was targeting her.

After Gibson's tweet, Republican Florida governor candidate Ron DeSantis called for Gibson's resignation in a statement to Politico.

However, when it came to Marin's posts on Friday, DeSantis has been silent.

DeSantis was scheduled to appear at a private meet-and-greet with the Orange County Republican Executive Committee Friday evening, but told the committee he had a scheduling conflict and the "Reagan Day" event was canceled.

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