Florida Politics

Amid domestic abuse allegations, Grayson loses support and his cool

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando.
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando. Tampa Bay Times

Liberal groups supporting U.S Rep. Alan Grayson are distancing themselves from the Orlando Democrat’s campaign for U.S. Senate after domestic violence reports, some dating back to the 1990s, surfaced Tuesday.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America rescinded their endorsements of Grayson, citing reports that he hit his ex-wife Lolita Grayson on four occasions dating back to 1994 when the couple lived in northern Virginia. The reports were first published Tuesday by Politico. Later, when a reporter from that media outlet confronted Grayson at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the imposing lawmaker appears to push the reporter as he refused to answer questions, video footage shows.

According to police reports obtained by the Herald/Times, Lolita Grayson twice contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to report that her husband had hit her.

In 2014, she told police that Alan Grayson shoved her during an argument at their home, which led to bruising on her legs and shoulders. In defense, she drove her knee into his stomach, according to police reports.

The sheriff’s office declined to pursue the case after finding no probable cause of a crime being committed. Alan Grayson and the couple’s oldest daughter, Skye, contended at the time that the congressman was not violent and that Lolita attacked him.

A 2005 call to police alleged that Grayson became angry and pushed his wife, hitting her in the back of the head and swearing at her.

“It is unfortunate that these discredited and utterly false allegations have had their intended effect — to smear an innocent victim in a vain effort to derail a Senate campaign and distract voters from the issues that matter to them” Grayson’s lawyer, Mark NeJame said in a statement.

Video taken Tuesday shows that when Grayson was approached at the convention by Politico reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere, he became visibly angry and evaded questions about the abuse allegations. The video shows him putting his hands on Dovere’s shoulders as the reporter asked him questions.

“You are a fool,” he told Dovere before ducking into an elevator. “I hope that somebody comes here and arrests you.”

Grayson is running against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, and Miami labor attorney Pam Keith in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Fairfax County, Va., would not release records from the 1990s, when the couple lived there. Lolita Grayson declined to comment or to verify the reports.

Politico published two Virginia police reports in which Lolita Grayson claims her husband hit her routinely.

Allegations of domestic violence surrounding the Grayson family are not new. During a bitter divorce proceeding that ended in annulment last year, both Alan and Lolita claimed to have been victims of abuse.

When Grayson ran for Congress in 2012, he pushed a story that his opponent, Republican Todd Long abused his ex-wife. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Long’s ex-wife later denied the claim.

Times/Herald staff writer Kristen M. Clark contributed to this report.

Contact Michael Auslen at mauslen@tampabay.com. Follow @MichaelAuslen.

Related stories from Miami Herald