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Florida woman attacks Matt Gaetz, gets charged with battery

By Sarah May
|
May 3, 2023

In a bizarre incident out of Florida, a woman has been charged with battery for allegedly throwing a drink at Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-01) while in attendance at a festival in Miramar Beach, as the Daily Mail reports.

The suspect, 41-year-old Tallahassee resident Selena Chambers, was charged with one count of battery on an elected official and one count of simple battery and was released on $1,000 bail as she awaits a trial date in the matter, according to the New York Post.

Lawmaker Hit with Drink

A police report from the Walton County Sheriff's Office indicated that Chambers stands accused of loudly lobbing curses at Gaetz and his wife and ultimately throwing her drink at the lawmaker.

The Pushcart Prize-nominated author of “feminist horror stories” is also said to have then turned on her heels while flipping the congressman the bird.

Chambers reportedly acknowledged that she had been drinking alcohol at the festival but claimed that she had simply tripped over her own feet, causing her beverage to spill onto Gaetz.

As the Post notes, Chambers did admit to having recognized Gaetz prior to the spillage, and a friend in attendance with her boasted that she had lobbed obscenities of her own at the congressman.

Gaetz Speaks Out

In a Tuesday episode of his Firebrand podcast, Gaetz made mention of what he says happened at the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival, and he ultimately issued a statement on the matter.

Characterizing Chambers as “a registered Democrat and self-described member of the 'Resistance,' Gaetz vowed that he would “never allow the safety of Northwest Floridians to be compromised.”

Gaetz further noted, “I will be pressing charges against this individual in order to uphold the civility our community deserves. Thank you to the Walton County Sheriff's office for taking swift action.”

As ABC News notes, battery on an elected official such as Gaetz is a felony, while the simple battery count is categorized as a misdemeanor.

Chambers' Side of the Story

Taking issue with Gaetz' description of events, however, is Chambers' attorney, Matthew A. Karp, as the Mail explains.

According to Karp, his exploration of the facts suggests that the congressman and his group had been willingly embroiled in a verbal tussle with the women at the festival and that Gaetz was “both an aggressor and agitator” in what transpired.

Suggesting that he is looking forward to taking the lawmaker's deposition, Karp declared, “My client, Selena Chambers, maintains her innocence in this matter, and we intend to vigorously defend against the allegations of Rep. Gaetz.”

Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson issued a statement of his own, however, which said, “We cannot allow an environment where you throw things at elected officials because you don't like them. No matter your political affiliation, this is not the way to conduct yourself and will not be tolerated in Walton County.”

Not the First Time

The weekend kerfuffle was not the only time Gaetz has been targeted by someone willing to throw a drink as a means of expressing political disagreement, as the Associated Press notes.

Back in 2019, a woman named Amanda Kondrat'yev received a sentence of 15 days in federal detention for throwing what was described as a sports drink at the congressman during a protest event in Pensacola.

Gaetz was reportedly exiting a town hall meeting when he was hit in the back by a cup containing the aforementioned liquid, and witnesses on the scene pointed to Kondrat'yev as its point of origin.

No stranger to making headlines and stoking outrage among those on the left, Gaetz is perhaps best known for his outspoken support of former President Donald Trump, his outsized role in January's battle for the speakership of the House of Representatives, and his position in the lower chamber's conservative Freedom Caucus.