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Sam Rashid once again getting grief over social media, sues ex-employee for Facebook post

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Sam Rashid

Tampa’s Sam Rashid is once again facing grief over social media. This time, a Facebook post by a former employee is causing trouble for the Republican firebrand.

Samad Sultan Rashid, better known locally as Sam Rashid, is a 55-year-old businessperson, conservative activist and former member of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

A native of Pakistan who converted to Catholicism from Islam, Rashid now serves as CEO and co-owner of Brandon-based Divine Designs Salon & Spa, as well as president of Plant City-based Holtec, which sells commercial-grade saws. He is married to Geri Rashid.

Rashid is suing Jacqueline Lilley, 21, a former employee of Divine Designs.

In a series of Facebook posts last month, Lilley criticized Divine Designs, her old employer, calling the owners “thieves,” and urging current staff to “GET OUT NOW.” She said the company’s owner sent a “damn email” warning staff to stop social-media contact with employees who had left the salon on “bad terms.”

Jacqueline Lilley, former employee of Divine Designs Salon

The now-deleted post received at least 39 comments and 14 reactions.

Rashid, as the owner of the salon, is complaining that Lilley’s post falsely “accused [him] of committing a crime.” In an April 11 filing in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Rashid is seeking damages for defamation.

Rashid is far from a stranger to incendiary Facebook posts.

In June 2014, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Rashid, a high-profile GOP supporter, to the Hillsborough County Aviation Board. In September 2015, Rashid, an avid anti-tax activist, attacked Tampa businessperson Beth Leytham for her involvement in the “Go Hillsborough” transportation initiative, funded by the county government. Hillsborough had been considering increasing sales taxes to build new roads, improve bridges and expand mass transit.

In a Facebook post from Sept. 2, 2015, Rashid called Leytham a “taxpayer-subsidized slut,” suggesting she had “intimately close relationships” with two county and one city officials.

After a wave of outrage and mounting pressure on Scott to remove him, Rashid voluntarily resigned Oct. 9, 2015. In his resignation letter, he did not apologize for making the slur.

“Really, you guys will simply not let the past rest,” Rashid later told the Tampa Bay Times. “Every time there’s an article or statement or my name comes up, it’s always going to refer back to this ridiculous situation.”

Rashid added that he intended “slut” to be a political slur — not a sexual one.

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