US

Woman Pleads Guilty to Throwing Drink at Rep. Matt Gaetz, Faces Jail Time

By Zachary Stieber

A Florida woman changed her plea in the case of a drink thrown at Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Aug. 1 from not guilty to guilty.

Amanda Kondrat’yev, 35, threw a drink at Gaetz as he left a town hall in Pensacola in June.

Gaetz said he would be pressing charges because he didn’t want throwing drinks to become a common occurrence.

“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. He added that he was pressing charges to “send a message that we as conservatives have a right to our views—just like anybody else.”

Kondrat’yev initially pleaded not guilty, but changed her plea on Thursday while crying before a federal judge, reported the Pensacola News-Journal.

She now faces up to a year in prison, a $100,000 fine, or five years of probation. The sentencing hearing is slated for Oct. 17.

Amanda Kondrat’yev in a booking photograph. (Pensacola Police Department)

While police officers didn’t see Kondrat’yev hurl the drink, multiple witnesses said they saw her throw it and one reportedly captured it on video.

According to a police report obtained by the News-Journal, Kondrat’yev was arrested trying to flee. She was holding a sign that read “Gaetz – wipe off the blood from your hands, A+ rating – NRA, save our kids vote Gaetz out in 2020.”

Referring to the change in the plea, Kondrat’yev’s attorney, Eric Stevenson, said, “She wanted to accept responsibility. She’s never been arrested before, she’s no threat to the public. This was a pretty (minimal) incident. Nobody was injured or in danger of being injured.”

Kondrat’yev was among the contenders challenging Gaetz for his seat in 2016 but she dropped out at one point, reported the Northwest Florida Daily News. She was also one of the petitioners in a lawsuit that’s trying to remove a cross that’s located at Bayview Park in Pensacola.

Because Kondrat’yev was charged with violating U.S. Code Title 18 Section 351(e), which covers assaults on members of Congress and other federal officials, an FBI investigation was triggered.

A number of far-left activists have taken to throwing drinks at conservative officials and journalists. In an infamous case in Portland, journalist Andy Ngo was beaten by members of Antifa after some hurled milkshakes at him that a police official said appeared to contain quick-drying concrete.

Andy Ngo, a Portland-based journalist, is seen covered in unknown substance after being attacked by Antifa in Portland, Oregon on June 29, 2019. (Moriah Ratner/Getty Images)

According to the Daily Caller, Kondrat’yev is a member of the far-left extremist group, Antifa. She has not appeared to apologize for hitting Gaetz with the drink and went online after her arrest to ask supporters for money to pay for her legal costs.

Supporters have been laudatory, calling her an “American Hero.”

Buttigieg Staffer Apologizes

A staffer for presidential candidate and Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg commented on a story about Gaetz being hit with the drink: “Please, please let it be urine next time.”

Samantha Lillian Elaine Pollara, a staffer for Buttigieg, posted the comment on Facebook.

Gaetz alerted Buttigieg to the post on Twitter and later said that Pollara had called him.

“Samantha gave me a very nice call and apology. That is how reasonable people behave and it’s certainly good enough for me,” he wrote.

Buttigieg never commented on the post.