Florida Republicans have a bit of a problem on their hands with one of their party’s new leaders. The Miami Herald has reported that the Broward County Republicans’ secretary was arrested and charged with attempted murder nearly a decade ago.
About four months ago, Rupert Tarsey was elected to the Broward County Republicans’ executive board as secretary. He competed in a three-way race and won 75 votes. However, it turns out that his real name is Robert Ditsworth and he was charged with attempted murder nearly a decade ago in Los Angeles. The reports indicate that Tarsey beat a classmate over the head with a hammer at least 40 times and split her skull open. However, he eventually pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor.
The local GOP has requested that Tarsey resign, saying that me misled them about his name and past, but he refused. He says that he has done nothing wrong and this is simply a matter of party politics. He claims that he has done nothing wrong and that the charges against him don’t matter because that is not what he was found guilty of in court.
The party’s local chairman, Bob Sutton, said that he was shocked when he found out that Tarsey had been charged with attempted murder and claims that he hid his past from them. For his part, Tarsey says that he did not change his name out of a desire to hide his past, but because he was estranged from his mother, so he decided to go by his mother’s maiden name instead. According to the Miami Herald Sutton, a schoolteacher, said:
‘We were blindsided. He’s a member of the Knights of Columbus, for Christ’s sake. And he came highly recommended by the former chair. We had no idea what his background is. We want him out but he is refusing to resign. He deceived us. It looks like he even used a reputation management firm to make sure we wouldn’t find out who he is.’
Sutton’s desire that Tarsey leave the position is understandable, considering that Broward County was, up until recently, a stronghold of the Democratic Party, being held by former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. The GOP is likely hoping to make inroads in the area now that Wasserman-Schultz has resigned, but it won’t be an easy fight and Tarsey’s presence on the party’s executive board won’t help matters. Regardless of the outcome of the trial, no political party wants to be associated with someone who was charged with attempted murder.
However, despite Sutton’s best efforts, it appears that he will have a fight on his hands if he wants to force Tarsey out. The party’s secretary has repeatedly said that he has done nothing wrong and will not resign from his position. As frustrating as this is for the GOP, it’s likely that local Democrats are more than a little pleased to see this happen. If the GOP is too busy feuding with their own, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to make any gains in 2018.
Featured image via Sunshine State News.