Divorce is a nasty damned thing.
Often, people who loved each other passionately will hate each other just as passionately during divorce proceedings. This leads, WAY too often, to charges made that are either exaggerations, or outright lies. I know this is true, because it happened to me, and nearly 2 decades after my own divorce, I still do not talk to my ex-wife unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. Yeah. I’m THAT pissed, this many years later. But don’t take my word for it. I’m guessing that as many as every other divorce features BS charges designed to hurt the other party, both professionally and personally. I lost count of how many men, and women, told me “yeah, that happened to me, too.”
Given that parties to a divorce are well-known for rearranging a few things to make themselves look victimized, a charge made in a divorce case isn’t worth the time to repeat it, unless there is something corroborating the charge somewhere. And I’m pretty sure that in a timeframe of 30 years, someone who was actually guilty of something alleged in a divorce case would surely have had it confirmed by someone, somewhere, especially if that person is a high-profile liberal. That’s why this particularly nasty piece of politicking courtesy of Josho the Clown is so offensive. There’s nothing here. This is purified desperation.
Josho has many reasons to be desperate, of course. A guy who never shows up for his job, and packs his office with uneducated cronies (after running an “integrity” campaign) is automatically in trouble. But since Josho can be counted on to lie about as often as he can be counted on to be absent from his job, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that he’d stoop to this level.
Mandel campaign spokeswoman Nicole Sizemore said in a statement that “if the Brown campaign insists on politicizing the domestic violence issue, then voters deserve to know the facts about Sherrod Brown’s own personal past on domestic violence so that they can decide for themselves whether or not it is relevant in the election.”
The reaction from Brown’s campaign and family is unified. Mandel, they said, is using a feeble excuse — a vote on federal funding for domestic violence prevention — to strike a low blow.
Mandel, the Brown campaign said in a statement, “has now resorted to a despicable, false attack against Sherrod Brown and his family and he should be ashamed of himself.”
Larke Recchie, Brown’s ex-wife, who signed the affidavit against him in 1986, hosted a fund-raising event for her ex-husband Saturday.
She declined an interview request but issued a statement saying: “I understand that in campaigns you often have to go after your opponent, but Josh Mandel should know better than to go after our family. I ask that he immediately put a stop to this kind of politics. I was proud to support Sherrod in 2006 and I’m proud to support him again this time around against Josh Mandel. Josh Mandel should immediately stop this kind of dirty campaigning.”
Records from the 1986 divorce in Franklin County Common Pleas Court show a searing level of vitriol between Sherrod Brown (named in the court filing as “S. Campbell Brown”) and his then-wife of seven years. She filed the case in May that year, saying in the complaint that Brown “has been guilty of gross neglect of duty and extreme cruelty” toward her.
She also got a restraining order to keep him from harassing or annoying her and from “doing bodily harm.” In a supporting affidavit, she said she was “in fear for the safety and well-being of myself and our children due to (Brown’s) physical violence and abusive nature.”
She later sought to keep Brown from going further than the curb when he came to pick up their young daughters for visitation. She said in a supporting affidavit that Brown “intimidated, pushed, shoved and bullied” her on several occasions.
In that affidavit, she described an incident on Oct. 11, 1986, in which Brown arrived at her home to pick up his daughters but refused to wait for her to bring the girls out. He “pushed me up against the wall with his arms in order to pass and enter the house,” the affidavit said. “He refused to leave when asked and began to say insulting, derogatory things about me, my mothering of my children and my character in front of my friends and children.”
She concluded by saying that “I am definitely afraid of my husband, that he has struck and bullied me on several different occasions, he has completely destroyed my peace of mind and that I am extremely intimidated by him.”
The acrimony did not end with the divorce decree.
According to a Columbus Dispatch story from April 1989, when Brown was Ohio secretary of state, Brown’s ex-wife accused him of malicious destruction of property and filed a police report saying Brown broke the door after pounding on it. She did not follow up with charges.
The Dispatch story also said that Brown assaulted his ex-wife’s new husband, Joseph Recchie, grabbing him around the neck and beginning to strangle him. Joseph Recchie filed a complaint but did not follow up with formal charges, the Dispatch reported.
He and his family, including his ex-wife, are reluctant to discuss in detail what they consider an ancient, overblown and largely private matter. Brown’s ex-wife is friends with Schultz, to whom he has now been married eight years. In the 1989 Dispatch article, Brown denied all the allegations, saying, “I’ve never hurt her. I’ve never touched her.”
Larke Recchie said in 1992, when Brown was running for the House of Representatives and the charges came up: “Divorce can often be an unfriendly ordeal, and ours was no exception. There was a lot of hurt on both sides, and it led only to angry words.”
The allegations never hurt Brown politically, partly because his opponent in a U.S. House race who used them in 1992, Margaret Mueller, was blasted by Brown allies and editorial boards as picking on a family’s past troubles, when accusations fly too freely.
Brown anticipated that there could be a similar attack in 2006, when after seven terms in the House he challenged Republican Mike DeWine for the Senate seat. Larke, Brown’s daughter Liz, and Schultz filmed a commercial in anticipation, ready to slam DeWine. In it, Larke said, “Divorce can be difficult and ours was no different.”
But DeWine left the matter untouched, earning gratitude and a degree of admiration from his opponent’s family. The commercial with Larke stayed in the can.
Brown won DeWine’s seat.
Mandel’s decision to cite old claims is risky, said Susan Burgess, a professor at Ohio University who teaches political science as well as women’s and gender studies. Men prone to domestic violence tend to follow cycles of contrition with new acts of abuse, and “there’s no evidence that suggests that Sherrod Brown is a serial perpetrator of domestic violence,” she said. Rather, Brown has a long record of public service and support for women’s issues.
The American Association of University Women, whose congressional ratings are watched by groups including the National Organization for Women, has consistently given Brown perfect scores for his Senate voting record.
And said Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, based in Denver, “We’re fans of the senator’s votes.”
In interviews, these women spoke of potential voter backlash against Mandel. Smith, of the domestic violence coalition, called Mandel’s attack “actually abusive,” because he is putting Brown’s family, including his former wife, in a negative spotlight, “and that is abusive of women.”
“I think that what’s fair, when you’re talking about violence against women, you should listen to the woman in question,” said Lisa Maatz, director of public policy and government relations for the university women’s association. If Brown’s ex-wife says the accusations are overstated, “there shouldn’t be any question about her word on that matter after all these years, when she has little reason to distort.”
Ohio University’s Burgess said it suggests “a level of desperation, especially with this much of the campaign left. The mud-slinging comes out typically from people who are behind.”
The mudslinging also comes out from those who are covered with mud themselves. Josho might think that we will just forget about his appalling record as Treasurer. He might also think that maybe we’ll overlook the fact that he was, is, and will be nothing more than a whore, lining up Johns to pay for his various political activities. But I’ll tell you this much; if I found out tomorrow that Sherrod takes a cat-o-nine-tails to his wife every night, that still wouldn’t be enough to get me to vote for the appallingly stupid, and sickeningly corrupt, farce known as Josho the Clown. I’d write in Cap’n Crunch before I’d vote for Josho, since the Cap’n wouldn’t be able to whore himself out, at the very least.
Don’t let this smarmy little bastard get by with this.