The political activist acknowledged throwing a sports drink at Congressman Matt Gaetz during an appearance in Pensacola. She was originally accused of throwing a milkshake.
PENSACOLA — Amanda Kondrat'yev, the 35-year-old political activist charged with assaulting U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., after she threw a large cup of a red sports drink at him two months ago, pleaded guilty to that willful assault Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Pensacola.
A sentencing hearing for Kondrat'yev has been set for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 17 in U.S. District Court in Pensacola. She faces a possible maximum sentence of one year in confinement followed by one year on probation, or alternatively, five years on probation.
She also faces a possible fine that could be as much as $1000,000, according to information from Monday's court proceedings.
Separate proceedings in Escambia County Circuit Court have been halted as a result of Monday's guilty plea by Kondrat'yev, according to her attorney, Eric Stevenson.
Kondrat'yev was charged with violating U.S. Code Title 18 Section 351(e), which covers assaults on members of Congress and other federal officials.
Gaetz was hit by the sports drink as he left Brew Ha Ha, a restaurant and bar on North 12th Avenue in Pensacola, following a noontime June 1 appearance there as part of what he called his "Won't Back Down" tour. The tour was a three-stop one-day event that also included appearances in Navarre and DeFuniak Springs. Gaetz continued on to DeFuniak Springs, the last tour stop, after the Pensacola incident.
Video from the scene shows the cup arcing toward Gaetz from a small crowd of protesters standing outside Brew Ha Ha and chanting, "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Baby Gaetz has got to go." "Baby" is a reference to Gaetz being the son of Don Gaetz, a prominent former Florida legislator.
The cup, with liquid sloshing from it, sailed over Gaetz's right shoulder, struck his left arm and bounced into his chest before falling to the ground. Gaetz then turns toward the crowd and points, and the video later shows Pensacola police officers detaining Kondrat'yev in a nearby parking lot. According to court documents, Kondrat'yev "had attempted to leave the scene after the act."
A photo from the scene, since deleted from social media, shows Kondrat'yev holding a sign criticizing Gaetz's stance on gun control, reading, “Gaetz Wipe Off the Blood From Your Hand A+ Rating- NRA Save Our Kids Vote Gaetz Out in 2020.” According to court documents, a bystander saw a woman, later identified as Kondrat'yev, throw the sports drink at Gaetz. A Pensacola Police Department report indicates that a second eyewitness also identified Kondrat'yev as the person who threw the cup.
Kondrat’yev was booked in the Escambia County jail at shortly before 3 p.m., Saturday and later released on a $1,000 bond.
In 2016, Kondrat'yev was among the people who ran against Gaetz in the race for the state's District 1 congressional seat, but she dropped out. She was also a petitioner in a lawsuit calling for removal of a Christian cross that has stood for years at Bayview Park in Pensacola.
The federal code section under which Kondrat'yev was charged requires an investigation by the FBI, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies. Court documents show that an FBI agent assigned to a unit that investigates violations of Title 18 was assigned to the case. According to the agent's affidavit, the U.S. Capitol Police were notified on the day of the incident by the Pensacola Police Department that Gaetz had been assaulted.
Two days after the incident, Gaetz told the Daily News that the incident “wasn’t something that hurt me or concerned me greatly,” but added that he intended to see Kondrat’yev prosecuted.
“If you allow someone to throw a drink at me and hit me, then the next time they might throw something else, maybe a rock, and hit a member of my staff. And the next thing I know somebody could throw something at a supporter or a citizen,” he said. “We take it very seriously because we don’t want this to become the norm at any event we host.”