Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has announced his intention to press charges against a woman who threw a drink on him at a food festival in Miramar Beach.
According to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, 41-year-old Selena Chambers was arrested for “battery on an elected official” after she threw a glass of wine on Gaetz — though the woman, who was screaming and flipping Gaetz off during the altercation, claims that she simply tripped and spilled the drink.
“Walton County Sheriff’s Office is confirming reports that our agency responded to an incident at an event in Miramar Beach Saturday involving Representative Matt Gaetz,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a post on Facebook. “A 41-year-old Tallahassee woman, Selena Chambers, was arrested after it was found by responding deputies that she intentionally threw a glass of wine at Representative Gaetz after shouting obscenities at him. She was charged with battery on an elected official and issued a $1,000 bond. She was released the following day.”
The @WCSOFL is confirming reports that our agency responded to an incident at an event in Miramar Beach Saturday involving Representative Matt Gaetz.
A 41-year-old Tallahassee woman, Selena Chambers, was arrested after it was found she intentionally threw a glass of wine at… pic.twitter.com/ZD9kalzjVM
— Walton Co. Sheriff (@WCSOFL) May 2, 2023
The Pensacola News Journal reports that Chambers was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery, along with battery on an elected official — which is a felony in Florida.
Gaetz discussed the incident during an episode of his podcast “Firebrand,” stating that he and his wife had attended the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, when the woman approached him and another man he was talking to. She then threw the glass of wine at him, and the liquid ended up hitting both Gaetz and the man he was speaking with, who has been identified as Blaine Odom.
The Florida congressman said that he plans to press charges against Chambers, arguing that it is necessary to hold people accountable for their actions because “there is a severe risk of escalation” if people are allowed to get away with crimes.
“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,” Gaetz warned.
BREAKING: Tallahassee Woman Arrested and Charged with Assaulting Congressman Matt Gaetz on Saturday Evening, Gaetz Issues Statement in Response
“I will never allow the safety of Northwest Floridians to be compromised. I will be pressing charges against this individual in order… pic.twitter.com/lXccJypznU
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 2, 2023
According to CNN, the police report quotes Chambers as claiming that “she was walking and tripped and spilled her drink on Representative Gaetz.”
“Blaine Odom said he was speaking with Representative Gaetz and saw Selena Chambers swearing loudly at them. Chambers was carrying a drink in her right hand. Chambers thrust the container into the air and the beverage from the drink landed on Representative Gaetz and on Odom’s right shoulder,” the police report stated, according to ABC News. “Chambers then walked away yelling and flipping him off. Odom said he observed the drink land on Representative Gaetz and also on him. Odom said his clothing was soaked from the drink Chambers threw on him. Odom said he wanted to press charges against Chambers.”
Meanwhile, defense attorney Matthew A. Karp is claiming that the “investigation has initially shown Rep. Gaetz to have been both an aggressor and agitator, and we look forward to taking his deposition.”
“My client, Selena Chambers, maintains her innocence in this matter, and we intend to vigorously defend against the allegations of Rep. Gaetz,” Karp added.
Gaetz also sent out a press release about the incident, which stated: “I will never allow the safety of Northwest Floridians to be compromised. I will be pressing charges against this individual in order to uphold the civility our community deserves. Thank you to the Walton County Sheriff’s office for taking swift action.”