Florida woman arrested after allegedly throwing a drink at Rep. Matt Gaetz

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

A Florida woman is accused of tossing a drink at the far-right Republican congressman Matt Gaetz, prompting two violence accusations, one of which is a felony.

According to the Walton County Sheriff, Gaetz insisted on filing charges. Gaetz said that his actions were legitimate, claiming that Selena Jo Chambers, 41, “cross[ed] the Rubicon beyond just words to throwing stuff.”

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Previously, a lady was imprisoned after being found guilty of throwing a drink at Gaetz.

Gaetz’s former political challenger Amanda Kondratyev, then 35, was given a 15-day jail term in 2019 after hurling a slushie at her opponent.

The “Open Gaetz” public event took place at the suitably titled Brew Ha Ha restaurant in Pensacola, where there was a beverage-related uproar.

The alleged incident involving Chambers took place on Saturday night at the South Walton Beaches food and wine festival.

Chambers “told police she was walking and tripped and spilled her drink on Gaetz, though she recognized Gaetz before spilling her drink on him,” the Pensacola News Journal reports.

The sheriff claimed that before tossing Gaetz’s drink, Chambers cursed at her, striking both the congressman and another individual. Chambers was accompanied by a woman who claimed to be the curser.

Gaetz is a well-known supporter of Donald Trump. He recently took the lead in a right-wing uprising that required California Republican Kevin McCarthy to secure 15 votes before being confirmed as speaker of the US House.

Gaetz described the incident on his podcast on Tuesday, saying that he had been  “enjoying catching up with new friends and old, and folks recognized me, and we were taking pictures and having polite conversations. As I was chatting with one gentleman, a lady threw a drink on the both of us.” 

Defending the decision to press charges, he said: “If we start allowing stuff to be thrown or hurled, if we allow people to be harmed, there is a severe risk of escalation and accident.

“And we don’t want to see anyone in harm’s way, whether it’s family members, supporters or even our detractors. We want them to be safe too.

“But when they really cross the Rubicon beyond just words to throwing stuff and striking me and striking a gentleman I was speaking with, with a drink, then that has really caused harm to our community. And it’s something that we want to contain and extinguish and not see going forward.”

In 2019, at his assailant’s trial, Gaetz said: “I come not for any vengeance or retribution, but for the safety of the constituents who attend our public events.”

Kondrat’yev, a mother of two, received a year of supervised probation, a $500 fine, and a 15-day prison sentence.

A press release from Gatez about Chambers’ alleged attack said: “I will never allow the safety of north-west Floridians to be comprised.”

He also called Chambers “a registered Democrat and self-described member of the ‘resistance’” to Trump and his far-right supporters.

Battery on an Elected Official and Misdemeanor Battery were both listed as charges against Chambers. The first is a  felony. 


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