Carolina Amesty

Avatar 106

Republican Nominee, Florida House District 45

Public Service

Never held elective office.

Occupation

Executive vice president, Central Christian University

Education

  • Seminole State College of Florida, A.A., 2014

  • University of Central Florida, B.A., Political Science and Government, 2016

Religion

Christian

An earlier version of this story reported that the Amesty family had been evicted from an apartment in 2006. That is incorrect. We have corrected the error. 


In her first bid for public office, Republican candidate Carolina Amesty bested a crowded primary field and now faces moderate Democrat Allie Braswell for the District 45 seat on Nov. 8.


Amesty, whose website says she's of "Venezuelan heritage," works in her family business. She is executive vice president of Central Christian University, owned by her father Juan Amesty. There, she has held a series of titles since 2014, from director of academic affairs while she was in college to special adviser to the president in 2017 and currently, executive vice president. She also serves on the boards of American Chaplains and Chaplains of Florida — both run by her family out of Central Christian University. She is also president of Orlando Republican Women Federated.


Not much is known about Amesty’s background — Amesty would not commit to an interview with VoxPopuli and there's no backstory on her campaign website. But according to a resume posted on We Over Me Collective, she completed an associate’s degree at Seminole State University and a bachelor’s degree in political science and government at University of Central Florida. She studied at Moscow State University in Russia as part of the Benjamin A. Gilman Ambassador program through the U.S. State Department and worked in constituent services for Sen. Marco Rubio.


She’s taken a bit of heat lately. The Orlando Sentinel first reported that the university does not appear to have any faculty — the university website claims 27 full-time teachers, but there are no names, bios or pictures listed under the faculty tab. Plus, the nonprofit university bought the home where Amesty lives with her parents before she announced her candidacy. But the Orlando Sentinel reported that there were homestead exemptions for other people listed as owning and occupying the home during the years when she was using the address to vote — a situation she declined to fully explain. 


Court documents show that Amesty's parents, Juan and Dinoraht Amesty, have been sued multiple times for nonpayment of rent, mortgage and homeowners association assessments. Their home in Clarion Oaks was nearly foreclosed in 2008. The Clarion Oaks Homeowners Association sued for nonpayment of special assessments in 2019. And in 2016 the commercial property owner, Park Center Properties LLC, sued Juan Amesty along with his Spanish-languge church and Christian Care Counseling Center, where Carolina Amesty had worked for a time, for tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid rent.


We reached out numerous times to Amesty, through her Facebook page, through her campaign email and her personal email. The only one who responded was Giancarlo Sopo, a communications strategist who, according to his LinkedIn page, ran advertising and rapid response for President Trump's 2020 re-election campaign. He emailed VoxPopuli on Tuesday, Oct. 25, to say that Amesty was a client, that this article was "bullshit," and hinted at legal action if it wasn't retracted. 


"Your article is riddled with errors, but even if it was not, whatever financial issues her parents may or may not have had — dating back to when Carolina was a child — is [sic] irrelevant," Sopo's email said.

"Carolina is a grown woman who has owned her own business and held jobs independent of her family’s enterprises. It is condescending and paternalistic nonsense for you to attribute any of this to her merely because she is a young woman."


Sopo said it was unfair to write about Amesty's parents' financial troubles because those problems were not of her making. But if a candidate is asking voters to trust them to make decisions on their behalf, voters have a right to know about a candidate's family — especially when a candidate's father appears to have been her primary employer.  According to the resume Amesty posted at We Over Me Collective, the only job listed outside the family-run businesses was in constituent services for Sen. Marco Rubio. 


Amesty's single entrepreneurial endeavor, the chicken restaurant Pollo Juan, which she valued at $3 million, according to campaign documents, appears to have closed, judging from the disconnected phone and offline website.


Amesty is running, according to her campaign website, “to work with Gov. DeSantis to defend our state from the agenda being pushed at us on a daily basis by the establishment in Washington.”


Other priorities include lower taxes, improved healthcare, the tourist industry, school choice and preventing government overreach. Her campaign site declares that Amesty will be “a sentinel against government overreach and legislature seeking to steal our freedoms by sleight of hand.”


We weren’t able to directly ask Amesty her thoughts on the 2020 election* or the Jan. 6 insurrection, however, Donald Trump, Jr. headlined one of her fundraisers where she charged $4,000 for a photo with the two of them.


Here’s where she stands on other key issues.


REEDY CREEK IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT

When the Orlando Sentinel asked Amesty whether she agreed with Gov. DeSantis’s decision to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, during her candidates’ forum, she gave a winding answer about hearing how many people connect Disney World to Orlando when she travels abroad — which didn’t answer the question. When pressed, she said, “Personally I don’t think we have to abolish Reedy Creek” — a turnaround from what she said in July at the Tiger Bay of Central Florida primary candidates forum. Then, Florida Politics reported that she said Disney deserved to lose the special district if the corporation waded into politics.


“It’s up to Disney. If they get involved in our education, in our politics, they lose their exemption,” Amesty said.


PROPERTY INSURANCE

“I’ve seen we’ve had a hike in insurance,” Amesty told the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s a high concern. Something must be done and I would say it’s a top priority for the upcoming session.”


AFFORDABLE HOUSING

“We don’t have enough construction going on. We need to build more. The way to solve a crisis in demand is supply, supply and more supply,” she told the Orlando Sentinel. “I believe that the market regulates itself and right now, we see that we have a housing crisis and that’s why things are so expensive. We don’t have the amount of construction for the number of people coming to the state of Florida. Personally, me, coming from a Venezuelan family, I understand that capitalism works.”


TEACHER RETENTION/EDUCATION

Education is one of Amesty’s key issues. She supports expanding charter schools through universal school choice and is also a supporter of the “Parental Rights in Education,” (dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics) which bans classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in Kindergarten through the 3rd grade.


PolitiFact reported that the Florida Department of Education confirmed that sexual orientation and gender identity “are not included” in curriculum taught in the state’s K-3 classrooms. PolitiFact also cited a Florida professor who said she was “not aware of any K-3 grade teacher that is campaigning or ‘social engineering’ students to be LGBTQ such that it could be studied to tell whether or not such a campaign could be successful.”


Amesty wants to see fair pay for veteran teachers. “We need to ensure that veteran teachers are paid more,” she told the Orlando Sentinel. “It is not fair for teachers who’ve been there for 30 to 35 years, they’re getting paid significantly less than teachers who started recently.”


She also backs certification reciprocity with other states and allowing teachers who hold master’s degrees to get their certification fast-tracked.


ABORTION

“We have the right [to abortion], specifically granted from the state,” Amesty, who describes herself as “100 percent pro-life,” told the Orlando Sentinel. “As a woman, we saw that our governor signed a bill, a 15-week abortion ban. Fifteen weeks is more than enough after rape or incest or even just changing your desire.


“I think the state is great when it comes to women’s rights. You have the right [to abortion]. You have 15 weeks. It was signed. An executive order from our great governor. I mean that’s more than enough. It’s very clean. It’s very transparent. I don’t have anything else to comment on that. It’s 15 weeks.”


*The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a statement on Nov. 12, 2020, that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history.” The Department of Homeland Security’s attested to the election’s security. The Jan. 6 Committee presented video testimony from former U.S. Attorney General Wiliam Barr who testified that he told former president Trump that his election fraud claims were “bullshit.”

— Norine Dworkin