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Gaetz to press charges against woman arrested in drink-throwing incident

Alleged assailant told police she tripped, causing the spill

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Matt Gaetz said he is pressing charges against a Florida woman who allegedly threw a drink at him over the weekend while he attended an event in his home district.

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Tuesday that Selena Chambers, 41, of Tallahassee, was charged with battery of an elected official, a felony, and simple battery, a misdemeanor, after throwing the drink at the Florida Republican and shouting obscenities at him. 

Gaetz said the incident occurred while he and his wife were at the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival on Saturday.

“We were taking pictures and having polite conversations and as I was chatting with one gentleman, a lady threw a drink on the both of us and she was promptly arrested,” Gaetz said Tuesday on his podcast, “Firebrand with Matt Gaetz.”

Chambers was held on a $1,000 bond and released the next day, according to the sheriff’s office. She told responding officers that she tripped and spilled her drink on Gaetz but admitted to recognizing the congressman, according to the police report. 

“We cannot allow an environment where you can throw things at elected officials because you don’t like them,” Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson Jr. said Tuesday in a statement posted to the office’s Facebook page. “No matter your political affiliation, this is not the way to conduct yourself and will not be tolerated in Walton County.”

Gaetz, 40, has been among the most polarizing of House Republicans since he assumed office in 2017. He’s attended political rallies at which members of the Proud Boys were present and invited an alleged Holocaust denier to the 2018 State of the Union.

Gaetz has also peddled conspiracies about the 2020 presidential election and was the subject of a Department of Justice investigation into an alleged scheme that led to the sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl. The DOJ told Gaetz in February that he would not face charges. 

Despite the controversies, Gaetz coasted to a fourth term in November in his solidly red district. 

Gaetz explained his reasons behind pressing charges during his podcast. 

“It’s quite alright for folks to let their voice [be] heard with an opinion or a comment. Folks can shout and scream all they want. This is America and people ought to be able to say what they believe, what they desire, even offer criticisms or critiques of people in public life,” Gaetz said. “But if we start allowing stuff to be thrown, or hurled, if we allow people to be harmed, there is a severe risk of escalation, or accident. And we don’t want to see anyone in harm’s way.”

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