Sunday, February 18, 2024

Palm Beach County Republican chairman Kevin Neal, accused of libel, files counter lawsuit. (Palm Beach Post)

Florida Republicans suing each other in Palm Beach County.  Shades of shady people here in St. Johns County, where the likes of the late WILLIAM KORACH and BRANDON PATTY, ROY ALYRE ALAIMO, JR. et al. have served as REC Chair.  From Palm Beach Post:

Palm Beach County Republican chairman Kevin Neal, accused of libel, files counter lawsuit

Kevin Neal, the chairman, accused of libel in December by a county party member, has fired back with his own legal action.

Stephany Matat
Palm Beach Post

In his countersuit, Neal claims Ruffa's legal action caused him "emotional distress" and accused Ruffa of cyberstalking and defamation.

December libel lawsuit:Local Republican chair faces libel lawsuit amid statewide troubles with GOP leadership

“Ruffa’s intentional and malicious campaign aimed to incite animosity towards Neal, causing harm to Neal’s reputation, political career, business and overall well-being,” the countersuit read. “Ruffa’s statements were made with actual malice, as he knew the statements were false and/or published them with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity.”

Reached for comment, Neal said he could not speak about ongoing legal matters. Ruffa directed inquiries about the matter to his attorney.

Ruffa’s lawyer, Philip Thompson, said a counterclaim can allege anything. Thompson also said the emails Ruffa sent “speak for themselves” and contained nothing "that was improper."

“So we're confident we will handle all those counterclaims in due course, and the evidence will speak for itself once it's all gathered, but we haven't gotten there yet,” Thompson said.

Florida GOP, other county chapters have been in turmoil, seen changes at start of 2024

The friction within the Palm Beach County GOP is a microcosm of dissension facing Republicans just weeks into the 2024 election year.

Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler was ousted from his post last month as he was being investigated over sexual battery allegations. On Jan. 19, Sarasota police announced they would not file charges against Ziegler but had asked the county's prosecutor to review a related investigation into potential video voyeurism by Ziegler.

Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler is being investigated over sexual assault allegations.

Also close to Ziegler's home, the Republican Club of South Sarasota County chose Proud Boys' James Hoel as president. The chapter then resigned its charter from the Republican Party of Florida and changed its name to America First Southwest Florida Caucus.

In Manatee County, a rift between the local Republican Executive Committee over finances led to the resignation of two board members. At issue is what the two said were questionable expenses by the executive board, a lack of fundraising and concern that the committee's coffers have dwindled by about $42,200 over the past year.

In Palm Beach County, the legal fight between Neal and Ruffa also speaks to another issue critics say is a self-undermining and combative Republican brand of politics marked by the inability either to solve or settle differences.

The lawsuit filed by Ruffa claims Neal's assertions at the October GOP gathering "expose Ruffa to hatred, distrust, ridicule, obloquy and contempt." In addition, Ruffa states that he has "suffered injury to his reputation, shame, embarrassment, humiliation, and hurt feelings," according to the document.

Neal's countersuit accused Ruffa of targeting Neal’s “vulnerabilities” and caused an intentional infliction of emotional distress with the scores of unwanted emails, including some the lawsuit said referenced Neal’s family and “escalated the distress to a highly personal level.

Stephany Matat is a politics reporter for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY-Florida network. Reach her at Support local journalism: Subscribe today.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Republicans are grimey, shady people. That caused some people to vote Trump, while it caused others to vote for Biden. Trump is not really a Republican. He was a far right populist. He cared for no one in any political party.