Lawmaker Hits Man Over Campaign Sign


Ok, so this isn’t an Alaska-based political story, but it is one any of you who have run for office or helped on a campaign will appreciate.

The Gainesville Sun — Gainesville police released a 33-minute video that shows state Rep. Keith Perry hitting a man as they argued over a campaign sign, Perry emailed a public apology, calling the incident a “silly disagreement.”

The agency released the video of the Saturday argument as well as a narrative of the events and the initial incident report.

Perry, who hadn’t returned calls since Monday, sent an email to The Sun shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, explaining his role in the altercation. The email said he would be available to speak to the media Thursday.

“Anyone who knows me, knows that it takes quite a bit to rile me up. What began as a silly disagreement over a legal campaign yard sign – that was authorized by the owner to be placed in his yard – escalated, and for my part in that, I apologize,” the email read.

Perry said he approached Norman Robert Leppla, 46, in “good faith” to talk to him about a sign he’d removed from the gate of a home Leppla was visiting and at one point, Leppla agreed to put the sign back where he found it.

Leppla, who has not returned calls about the incident, told police he went to put the sign back, but removed it a second time after he said Perry made rude comments to him, according to his sworn complaint.

Perry said in his email that Leppla chest-bumped him, making contact first, and that he didn’t react until Leppla “made threatening comments to my wife and spit in my face that I pushed him away to prevent him from spitting on me again.”
In the video, after slapping Leppla, Perry quickly wipes his face with his hand, but Leppla is obscured by a column, and no spitting is evident.

Perry’s email also explained his Monday night text to local media outlets in which he suggested the case had been resolved.

“It is my understanding that Mr. Leppla attempted on multiple occasions to dismiss his complaint with calls to GPD and the officer handling the case. Unfortunately, the officer was off duty until later Monday afternoon, and by 4 p.m. when he called back, the case had already been moved to the State’s Attorney office – a procedural development that prevented Mr. Leppla from withdrawing his complaint.

“While I have the opportunity to bring charges against Mr. Leppla, I have no intentions of escalating this any further. For anybody offended by my actions I humbly apologize.”

Gov. Rick Scott’s office has been asked to appoint a special prosecutor, a spokesman said by email late Wednesday afternoon.

Click here to read the full story.

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