Back in 2005, Ozzie DeFaria was ordered by a judge to stay away from both his ex-wife and her new boyfriend.
Now, both of them are endorsing him for Congress.
It's just one detail of a knotted public relations quagmire that came to the surface last week, when shark-tank.net political blogger Javier Manjarres posted a story outlining the 2005 accusations leveled against DeFaria, a Republican congressional candidate in District 20.
DeFaria would run against incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz for the seat if he manages to win the Republican primary against several opponents. And when Manjarres' post came out, opponent Karen Harrington is whom DeFaria immediately blamed -- and came after.
Last Monday, Manjarres posted court documents that describe allegations filed in 2005 by Charles Seibold, who had started dating DeFaria's ex-wife, Elaine.
From an incident in Pembroke Pines:
Respondent knocked cup out of my hand and then smashed in my face while I was trying to watch his daughter play soccer. He then chased me a 100 yards across field yelling obscenities the whole time. R then smacked me in the shoulder twice and then ripped my sun glasses off my face and broke them... After the police showed up he took his own sunglasses off and broke them, then told the police I broke them.
And, from a separate incident in Weston:
The R pushed his way into my girlfriend's house looking for me. The R grabbed my girlfriend by the arm and pushed her aside. The R went into her bedroom looking for me and started throwing my things around.
And more allegations, from June 2005:
Respondent said over the phone that [he] was going to kill me. The R has told me 4-5 times that he was going to kill me. The R has called me at work 5 times and told my boss that I am a bad person, that I whip his wife, etc. The R has also told my girlfriend and my former girlfriend that he is going to kill me. The R also said that if I ever get around his kids, he will kill me. Because the kids live with my girlfriend, I have a real problem.
DeFaria's response to the article from Manjarres was not to say "listen, this is behind us" -- rather than actually addressing the article, he decided Harrington was behind it and got positively furious.
Elaine and Siebold (who are now married) wrote an open letter to Harrington; DeFaria posted it on his campaign website under the headline "RESPONSE TO HARRINGTON ATTACK," which is how DeFaria characterizes the article, apropos of nothing.
"We were reluctantly prepared for some public scrutiny, but not the distortions your campaign is promulgating," Elaine Seibold allegedly writes. "We were made aware that you, via your paid blogger, were attempting to leverage our past to discredit and assassinate Ozzie's character. Although this behavior has become commonplace in today's political arena, we personally find these attacks misleading, offensive, and reprehensible. It's shameful that you would drag us into this."
She continues, "We are private citizens not running for office. It's people like you that make people like us hate politicians. If you can't run for office on your own record, you should not run... It was an unfortunate set of incidents that we all regret, including Ozzie. Ozzie never showed any violence towards me. For you to insinuate otherwise is an outright lie."
(Clarification break: Nobody ever "insinuated" anything; the accusations of violence against Elaine Seibold came from Charles Seibold.)
"Javier Manjarres, a blogger closely associated with (and likely being paid indirectly) by your campaign, re-launched a previously failed personal political attack on my character," DeFaria wrote to Harrington. "You should be ashamed of yourself. Your blatant hypocrisy is offensive to the thousands of families that lost loved ones fighting to protect our freedoms."
Ah, the old Memorial Day defense. Classic.
Keep in mind, there's no evidence at all that Harrington was involved -- DeFaria's campaign is calling Majnarres a "paid blogger," but DeFaria hasn't offered any proof of collusion. DeFaria also seems to be avoiding the fact that a blogger accepting bribes doesn't really change the nature of legal documents alleging violence at children's soccer games.
But it goes further than just attacking Harrington -- DeFaria also dug up info on a 1995 fistfight that Manjarres was involved in, then posted the court documents on his website, as if a blogger's fight 17 years ago suddenly makes the accusations against DeFaria look different.
Contacted by the Pulp, DeFaria said, "The important thing to note is it was in the process of a divorce.
"All of these issues have been put to rest. My wife [sic] Elaine, her husband Charles, are fully supportive of my campaign, and they're on record. You know, just watch the video," he added. "They both fully support, endorse, and will vote for me. I think that's very, very, very important."
DeFaria continued, "These are incidents that happened six and seven years ago and do not reflect on the totality of my character."
So, does that mean they happened?
"They didn't happen exactly...," he paused. "Put it this way -- no crime was committed. However, they're incidents that happen over the course of a life."
DeFaria said all of the charges were dismissed. "[Manjarres] doesn't go to the outcome," DeFaria said. "I think in this country, an important part of our judicial system is innocent until proven guilty."
Then, as he emphasized the need for evidence, DeFaria made up charges against both Harrington and Manjarres.
"Karen has historically paid Javier," DeFaria said. "She pays him through a surrogate this election cycle. He has endorsed her, and he writes on her behalf." He offered no additional proof.
The Alleged Conspirators
Manjarres denies that Harrington played any role in his posting the blog, though he readily admits to receiving advertising money from her in 2010 and personally supporting her campaign in 2012.
Asked about the connection to Manjarres, Harrington spokesman Anthony Bustamante said there was "none at all. None."
"We're not going to hide behind anybody or cower behind some anonymous email," Bustamante said. "When we have something to say, we'll say it. We're focused on winning a race. We're not focused on the petty back-and-forth in a primary we feel confident we're going to win."
OK, Javier. Your turn.
"DeFaria's a joke," Manjarres said. "What congressional candidate -- please write this down -- what serious congressional candidate uses personal attacks using libelous websites against someone who isn't an opponent?... He's trying to discredit me for putting up a story that was 150 percent accurate."
Are you on a secret Harrington payroll?
"That'd be great. I wish I had the extra money," he said, laughing. "All he's doing is trying to deflect and change the narrative... Instead of manning up and saying, 'You know what, I messed up,' he says, 'Oh look at this guy! Look at this guy!' That's not congressional."
To be fair, DeFaria does have a web page ("FACTS") on which he explains past run-ins with the courts. On it, he acknowledges the 2005 dispute:
Over six years ago, Ozzie and Elaine's boyfriend let their emotions get the best of them, had a physical altercation, and Ozzie was charged with 'domestic violence.' The altercation was between Ozzie and Elaine's boyfriend and did not directly involve Elaine. The charges were subsequently dismissed.
A reasonable way to respond, sure, except then he turned it into a conspiracy theory.
"I don't fault him what happened," Manjarres continued. "I had a domestic violence issue in 2008, it was squashed in two days. There was no arrest... He can point at me all he wants. I'm not running for office. My credibility speaks for itself."
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