What a disgusting little punk:
Marlette: Gaetz day in court showed system of special treatment
Andy Marlette, Pensacola News Journal Published 6:00 a.m. CT Nov. 22, 2019
From the moment U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz arrived at federal court in Pensacola last Monday, the congressman received special treatment that average citizens are not entitled to.
A courthouse security officer stood along Palafox Street reserving two parking places out front with yellow, folding “wet floor” signs poking out of orange 5-gallon Home Depot buckets.
When Gaetz arrived, his driver pulled into the specially reserved parking spots. Upon entering the Winston E. Arnow Federal Building, Gaetz was not inspected in the same manner as average citizens who are required to remove shoes and other articles of clothing to pass security.
And upon taking his seat in the gallery with roughly a dozen members of the public who were waiting for the arrival of the judge, Gaetz pulled out his cellphone — something all other members of the public and press are prohibited from carrying into the courtroom.
When I asked one of the courthouse law enforcement officers why the congressman was permitted to bring electronics into the courtroom while average citizens were not, he said it was due to “local area protocol” and the fact that “people like that need to be ready at a moment’s notice.”
When I asked if there was some specific law that exempted members of Congress from the electronics restriction, the officer said it was “up to the discretion of the local U.S. Marshal’s office.”
About 10 minutes after the proceedings were scheduled to begin, Gaetz pulled out his device and began texting as everyone else waited phoneless. Seated several rows behind Gaetz, I was unable to peek and confirm whether or not it was Melania who had wished him luck in court and compliments on his outfit.
Shortly after U.S. Magistrate Judge Hope Cannon arrived and commenced the sentencing process, Gaetz stood, approached the bench and addressed the court about Amanda Kondrat’yev, the woman who had admitted to throwing a red drink in a plastic cup at the congressman back in June. Gaetz asked the judge to send the woman to prison.
In response, Eric Stevenson, the Pensacola attorney representing Kondrat’yev, told the court that there were more fitting ways to punish his client than incarceration. He asked the court to consider that she is a mother of two children.
He pointed out that she had no criminal history — not even an arrest — which ironically, is less criminal history than Congressman Gaetz has on his record.
He demonstrated how she is a productive member of society, with a college education, a record as a valued employee and he asked the court to consider more than a dozen personal letters of support.
And in a poignant moment, Stevenson explained to the court that his client was remorseful. He even turned to look the congressman in the eye as he read from a letter of regret and apology Kondrat’yev had written to Gaetz, in which she even offered to pay for any of his clothes that might have been stained by the red drink.
“Your Honor, jail is not the only way to deter criminal behavior,” Stevenson plead.
Was there serious injury? Was there a dangerous weapon involved? These were some of the factors the judge was able to consider in granting a “downward departure” from a federal sentencing guideline range that would otherwise require 8-14 months of jail time — simply because Gaetz is a congressman, and because someone at some unseen level of authority made the decision to needlessly inflate all of this into a federal case instead of letting it be handled by the state attorney's office, as it was initially.
And there’s that special treatment again. For all the modern populist talk about empowering average citizens, for all the spittle-flecked condemnations of swamps, elites and special interests, there it was, elitism incarnate. Right here in Pensacola. Right up the street. Right there in the procedures and codified law in a federal courthouse.
It wasn’t average citizens who got special parking reserved by silly-looking Home Depot buckets. It wasn’t average citizens who got different standards of security protocols. It wasn’t average citizens who got special permission to carry cell phones in the courtroom. And it wasn’t citizens who received a heightened level of protection backed by harsher promises of punishment.
It was a politician who got special treatment. At every point in the process — even down to the parking — the politician was treated better by the justice system than any of the rest of us would have been.
In the end, the judge sentenced Kondrat’yev to 15 days in prison. The congressman got his wish. And taxpayers will get the bill. Feel free to celebrate.
Stevenson, the strongest and most eloquent voice in the courtroom that day, praised the judge for the reduced sentence while condemning Gaetz for his hyperbole and hypocrisy.
"For him to talk about a violent crime, it's not as violent as a potential DUI is to drivers on the road (referring to Gaetz's 2008 arrest in Okaloosa County). It's not as much of a threat to our national security as storming a security hearing with a cellphone in a room that doesn't allow cellphones. It doesn't jeopardize our rule of law as much as intimidating witnesses, and it's not as severe as threatening to unleash violent supporters if you don't get what you want… I wish that he could have shown (Kondrat'yev) some Christian justice or mercy,"
Upon leaving the courthouse, Gaetz stepped outside, walked directly to a spot in front of a cameraman for one of the local news stations and lauded the decision to imprison a young woman. A woman who is a mother. A woman with no criminal record. A woman who is his constituent. A woman who apologized to him.
But when I tried to ask Gaetz how his request to incarcerate the drink-thrower was in line with Christian values and the teachings of Jesus, he refused to answer multiple times. Flanked by the woman who was driving for him, he headed back to his specially reserved parking space and closed the door as I tried to ask him a final question.
And it wasn’t a complex question. In fact, it’s a question he could have asked himself months ago after the relatively ridiculous drink-throwing episode first occurred.
It was a question he could have asked himself as he’s proclaimed things like “Northwest Florida Christian values” in public events and interviews.
It was a question that he could have asked himself inside that courtroom instead of texting on his phone, and it was a question he could have had the courage to ask aloud when he stood to address the court.
Indeed, it is a question that every one of us should ask ourselves as we watch a televised congressman celebrating the imprisonment of a young woman who made a dumb decision to throw a red drink.
Is that really what Jesus would do?