Tomorrow, according to the Board of County Commissioners agenda, newly-elected District 5 Commissioner Donna Cameron Cepeda will present a commendation to The River Tampa Bay Church pastors Rodney Howard-Browne and his wife Adonica.
The board of commissioners typically award commendations to "celebrate the significant contributions of businesses, groups, and individuals to the people of Hillsborough County."
Last January, Cepeda recognized a local student who read 1,000 books before kindergarten. However, tomorrow she'll give a commendation to a local conspiracy theorist who was famously arrested for defying local shutdown orders after he held in-person services during the peak of coronavirus pandemic. Of course, those charges were later dropped.
As of now, it's unclear what relationship Cepeda has with Howard-Browne, though according to one of her Facebook pages, the commissioner says she "studied" at his River Bible Institute.
But as CL previously reported, Cepeda has expressed disdain for pandemic lockdowns, specifically those that affect churches.
“Hillsborough County wanted all churches to stay closed,” said Cepeda in an interview with News Talk Florida. “This was unconstitutional. The churches were opened only when the county was threatened with lawsuits. Can you imagine a city without the organization of church for spiritual and community assistance? These leaders should be held accountable.”
In the same interview, Cepeda also rallied against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and local government taxing its citizens.
“Amid the rise of Inflation, the county desires to raise your taxes,” Cepeda wrote. “They think they can spend it better than you. I disagree. We can be good stewards of our own money and vote on how we want them to spend our tax dollars.”
Cedepa did not respond to CL's requests for comment. But we'll update this story if she gets back to us.
Besides his pandemic arrest and appearing on InfoWars, Howard-Browne has been at the center of quite a few far-right conspiracy theories. Most notably, the pastor wrote a book on the so-called "plandemic," and repeatedly claimed without evidence, that the COVID-19 pandemic was planned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Howard-Browne has also previously stated that climate change isn't real and that ruling forces use chemtrails and weather manipulation to destroy our food reserves. On a similar note, the pastor also claimed that the people that these same ruling forces are also Satanists who perform human sacrifices and drink blood.
In June of 2021, The River Tampa Bay Church hosted a three-day “Reopen America Tour,'' which featured a who’s-who of conspiracy theorists and QAnon grifters, including disgraced former U.S. Army lieutenant general and pardoned Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, accused tax dodger Roger Stone, Mike “The Pillow Guy” Lindell, anti-vaxx filmmaker Del Bigtree, and pizzagate conspiracy theorist Ann Vandersteel.
Tune in at 9 a.m. tomorrow to witness the Hillsborough County board recognize Howard-Browne for his "significant contributions."
UPDATE: Hillsborough County commissioners award commendation to 'plandemic' MAGA pastor