Rep. Matt Gaetz Doubles Down, Says He Will File Charges Against Drink-Tossing Woman Seen in Video

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz announced that he plans to file charges against a woman who allegedly tossed a drink at him outside a Florida town hall earlier this month.

He said in a Wednesday interview with Fox News that he planned on filing charges, and later reiterated his decision in Thursday tweet.

"I had a circumstance just a few weeks ago where someone threw a drink at me leaving a town hall meeting," Gaetz wrote. "I am going to press charges. It's really important to send a message that we as conservatives have a right to our views — just like anybody else. We're not backing down."

As Newsweek previously reported, Amanda Kondrat'yev was initially charged by Pensacola police with assault and battery for allegedly throwing the drink. The woman, who was subsequently released on bail, was one of a handful of candidates running against Gaetz in the 2016 election before she exited the race.

Grainy footage posted to social media on June 1 showed Gaetz walking outside the Brew Ha Ha restaurant, surrounded by protesters who held signs decrying his appearance. At one point in the video, a flying cup comes into the frame next to Gaetz, although it's unclear if the drink spilled or hit the conservative lawmaker.

"If there are no consequences, then maybe it's me getting hit with a drink one time. But what if it's a member of my staff? What if instead of a drink it's acid or urine?" he said during a Fox News appearance Wednesday.

His campaign issued a statement shortly after the incident that thanked "brave law enforcement officials" for their quick response.

"All people are invited to participate in our #OpenGaetz town hall events regardless of viewpoint," his office said at the time. "If anyone assaults anyone else, they can expect to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to ensure the security of all law-abiding participants. We continue to express our deep gratitude to the brave law enforcement officials who always keep our events and our community safe."

It's not uncommon for protesters to attend Gaetz's public events. The Florida native has closely aligned himself with President Donald Trump, staunchly defending the president's policies on immigration and other divisive issues.

Gaetz courted controversy at the 2018 State of the Union when he invited a known Holocaust denier to attend, a decision that sparked outcry from both from Jewish organizations and his fellow lawmakers.

The 37-year-old last faced widespread backlash after he tweeted, without evidence, that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had been unfaithful to his wife. The missive was sent hours before Cohen was scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee — timing that many said amounted to witness intimidation.

The Florida Bar subsequently opened an investigation into the tweet, which Gaetz has since deleted and apologized for.

Matt Gaetz
House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) questions witnesses during a hearing about the Mueller Reporter in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. The lawmaker has vowed to press charges against a woman for allegedly tossing a drink at him during a Florida town hall event, an incident captured on video and posted to social media on June 1. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images