Jason Bearden takes down pictures of students after accusations he used them as props

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Manatee School Board member Charlie Kennedy said he potentially violated privacy laws as well.

Manatee County Commission candidate Jason Bearden asked photos of him with students to be pulled from Facebook. That took place after a School Board member said Bearden used pictures without parental permission in order to further a political campaign.

The matter arose when photos were shared of an event where 941 Vets was invited to a school for a flag ceremony with students. Bearden then shared the photos, originally posted by Potus Rico, on his candidate Facebook page and offered thanks for being allowed to participate in the event. “It was a great memory and we had fun doing it,” he wrote.

But Charlie Kennedy, a member of the Manatee County School Board, immediately questioned the appropriateness of using the pictures on a campaign site.

“Did these students sign media release forms to use their image?” he asked in a Facebook comment. “Also, political/campaign activity is not allowed on school campuses. Whoever approved this activity and photo shoot is in violation of school board policy.”

Bearden’s campaign said the photos were taken a year ago, and the event wasn’t political in any nature.

Kennedy suggested the Florida Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

“You would be the type that would complain about something like this though you’re anti anything that has to do with our beloved flag,” Bearden wrote. “I’m so glad you’re not going to be on the School Board anymore you won’t be able to push your communist agenda on our children either.”

But Bearden ultimately contacted Rico and asked the photos to be taken down, and also took them off his campaign Facebook page.

Bearden this year is challenging Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore for her at large District 6 seat. Kennedy is not seeking re-election this year.

Bearden spokesperson Anthony Pedicini saw the criticism of Bearden’s photos as an act of desperation.

“I am not shocked and not surprised that a Democrat like Charlie Kennedy would attack a conservative like Jason Bearden in order to make liberal Carol Whitmore look good,” Pedicini said. “They are literally grasping at straws.”

Kennedy, who is registered with no party affiliation, called that deflection. “Since I’m not part of the MAGA cult, that automatically makes me a liberal to them,” he said.

Photo edited by Florida Politics

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