Protest planned against US Consul appointee
A controversial beauty products tycoon scheduled to take up the US Consul General's post this summer made headlines in America after he shared “conspiracy theories and unfounded attacks” about President Donald Trump's political opponents on Twitter.
Now a protest, publicised by Makai Dickerson, a former Progressive Labour Party candidate for the House of Assembly, has been planned over the appointment.
A flyer headlined We Take Action said a protest would be organised today with “exact time and location to be announced at 1pm”.
The poster carried the hashtags #rejectrizzuto and #icantbreathebda, a slogan related to protests against the killing of black people by American police officers.
CNN said that Lee Rizzuto Jr “amplified false allegations” in 2016 about Mr Trump's rivals before he was elected to the White House.
The US State Department said on Wednesday that Mr Rizzuto would become the Principal Officer at the US Consulate General in Bermuda.
Mr Rizzuto, who has no diplomatic service experience, will replace Constance Dierman, a veteran State Department official.
Ms Dierman took up her post as US Consul General — also known as the Principal Officer of the US Consulate in Bermuda — in June 2018 on a three-year assignment.
However, a spokeswoman for the US Consulate in Bermuda said yesterday she would leave the job before Mr Rizzuto arrives this summer.
The UK's MailOnline reported that Mr Rizzuto contributed $449,000 to Mr Trump's presidential campaign political action committee in 2016.
Mr Trump nominated Mr Rizzuto, who helped to develop Conair, his family's personal care products business, as ambassador to Barbados in 2018.
The appointment would also have made him the US representative to St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. The nomination required Senate confirmation.
CNN said in an article published online in 2018: “President Donald Trump's nominee to be the ambassador to Barbados and several other Caribbean countries spread fringe conspiracy theories and unfounded attacks about Trump's political opponents on Twitter, including ones about senator Ted Cruz and his wife, Heidi, during the 2016 presidential election.”
It added: “During the height of the Republican presidential primary, Rizzuto spread smears about Trump's opponents, including Cruz, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and Ohio governor John Kasich, a CNN KFile review of Rizzuto's Twitter account shows.”
The report said: “A representative for the White House declined to comment. Reached by phone, Rizzuto told CNN that he could not comment based on guidelines from the State Department.
“All of Rizzuto's tweets on his personal account have been deleted, but retweets dating back to February 2016 are still visible.”
CNN reported on Wednesday that Mr Rizzuto's “nomination for the ambassador post in Barbados was returned in January of this year and he was not renominated by the White House”. The Consul General to Bermuda does not require Senate confirmation.
The Royal Gazette was unable to contact Mr Rizzuto and the US State Department did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr Rizzuto is not the first US Consul to Bermuda selected from outside the diplomatic service by a president.
Gregory Slayton, US Consul between 2005 and 2009, was a businessman, appointed by president George W. Bush.
Robert Farmer, a major fundraiser in four Democratic presidential battles, including the successful 1992 Bill Clinton campaign, also filled the post.
Eb Gaines, a businessman was appointed to the job from 1989 to 1992 by Republican president George H.W. Bush.