Event fundraising

School board candidate skips campaign event, ties to Proud Boys activists

Sarasota County School Board District 4 candidate Robyn Marinelli says she won’t participate a meet and greet campaign event organized in part by a local Proud Boys activist.

James Hoel, 50, and his wife, Kathy, have been listed as RSVP contacts for the event originally scheduled for June 23. The event was to take place at the Island Organics Cafe in Venice, part-owned by Kathy Hoel.

Marinelli campaign manager Collin Thompson did not respond whether the event had been canceled or was planned as a fundraiser. Instead, he responded to the coverage and criticism of the event.

“This is a baseless attack orchestrated by Robyn’s liberal opponent and perpetuated by the corporate media because of Robyn’s strong commitment to protecting parental rights,” Thompson wrote in a text.

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Marinelli is running for one of three school board seats for this cycle’s election. She faces Lauren Kurnov in her primary election on August 23.

Kurnov had commented critically on the planned event.

Hoel seems to identify with the local Proud Boys, appearing in photos wearing the band’s shirts and attended school board meetings with the group. He also appeared to be in Washington, DC, on the steps of the US Capitol during the January 6 attack, according to a Herald-Tribune analysis of Pictures and videos taken at the scene.

In a June 6 interview with the Herald-Tribune about the planned event, Marinelli said she didn’t know Hoel, only that the event itself was planned. She said she wanted to keep politics out of school board races and focus on students.

“I don’t even know any Proud Boys,” Marinelli said. “If they walked ahead of me, I couldn’t tell you who they are. I don’t identify as that.”