Byron Donalds issues cease-and-desist letter to Casey Askar campaign
Casey Askar, Byron Donalds are taking the lead in a crowded

The sin? Accusing the Naples Republican of supporting Barack Obama in 2008.

Running for Congress has drawn scrutiny over Byron Donalds’ arrest record from his early 20s. But he said accusations that he supported President Barack Obama go too far.

The Naples Republican sent primary opponent Casey Askar a cease-and-desist letter demanding he stop accusing him of supporting the Democrat.

“We are investigating the many false and baseless statements that you have made about Mr. Donalds in your campaign advertisements,” Donalds’ attorney Todd Allen said. “Most recently, you have accused Mr. Donalds of supporting or voting for President Barack Obama. You have no evidence to support this allegation.”

Donalds’ campaign sent the letter via certified mail on Friday.

But Askar’s campaign scoffed, standing by their assertions Donalds only recently embraced Republican values.

“Your letter does more to confirm the reality that Mr. Donalds supported President Barack than to rebut it,” writes Askar counsel Chris Gober.

The letter from Donalds’ campaign was prompted by a video Askar released on July 23.

That in itself was a response to a negative ad from Club for Growth labeling Askar a Mitt Romney Republican. Club For Growth’s political arm endorsed Donalds among the nine Republicans running for the open Congressional seat.

“Back then, Byron Donalds was a Democrat supporting Barack Obama,” Askar says. Type on screen makes clear that “in 2008, Byron Donalds was a Democrat.”

The Collier County Supervisor of Elections confirmed the written part at least. Donalds was registered in the county as a Democrat from April 2003 to March 2010.

Another ad on heavy rotation on Southwest Florida airwaves repeats the claim that Donalds supported Obama for President.

But Askar’s team said there’s no evidence Donalds actually backed Obama. In fact, his social media activity indicates otherwise.

“It is clear that your campaign has closely examined Mr. Donalds’ Facebook page, as you have used it in the past to smear Mr. Donalds,” he said, apparently alluding to ads from Honesty America calling Donalds a “Never Trumper.” Those ads were based on criticisms he leveled against now-President Donald Trump in a Facebook conversation with his sister years before Trump’s full entry into politics.”

“However, it appears you deliberately chose to ignore several critical statements Mr. Donalds has made against President Obama.”

The ad then delineates statements dating back to February of 2009 attacking Obama for a budget that will raise taxes on gas and groceries. A month later he slammed Obama’s health care proposal, and a day later called a political appointment “the 5th tax cheat to be nominated.”

By March of 2009, he was calling Obama “anti-liberty” for funding stem-cell research, a process criticized by anti-abortion activists, and slamming Obama and Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd for accepting donations from AIG. In July that year, he called Obama’s health care plan a bait and switch.

The cease and desist letter suggests Askar’s campaign is knowingly libeling Donalds.

“It is clear that you knew the allegations were false,” the letter reads. “Your extensive review of Mr. Donalds’ Facebook page demonstrated that falsity. There is nothing you could have discerned from Mr. Donalds’ social media activity or his political activities that indicates that he actually did vote for or support President Barack Obama.”

The statements in the letter all date back to several months after Obama’s election as President in 2008.

Of course, Askar’s campaign noted that doesn’t in fact clear up who Donalds supported when Obama won office.

“If your intention to put my clients on notice that the statements that Mr. Donalds supported President Barack Obama is false, then I would expect you to make the unambiguous assertion that Mr. Donalds neither supported not voted for President Barack Obama,” Gober writes. “That assertion is glaringly absent from your letter, so your notice is insufficient to support a potential legal claim.”

The Askar camp letter notes Donalds not only voted in the 2008 election but cast a vote in the primary earlier that year. He also voted as a Democrat in 2006 when Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won reelection and Democrats took the Senate, and in the 2004 presidential election, so it’s not like Donalds wasn’t participating in politics at all.

Donalds notes that he voted in the state primary in 2008, largely because of school board races that year, but not the presidential preference primary in March.

Regardless, he said his vote for President that year, regardless of his party registration, went to Republican John McCain over Obama.

“My mother called me in September, 2008, basically talking about how excited she was to vote for Obama,” Donalds recalls. “I told her I couldn’t vote for him because I didn’t agree with him. She was apoplectic.  But I told her she always told me to =look at things logically and make my decisions as a man. That’s what I did.”

Donalds first ran for Congress in the 19th Congressional District in 2012, losing then to Rep. Trey Radel in the Republican primary.

Notably, the Askar ad was done in response to criticism of his support for Romney in 2012. The Honesty America ad deep-diving Donalds’ social media also criticizes the politician for backing Romney the same year.

That anti-Donalds ad also raises a 1997 misdemeanor marijuana arrest and a 2000 bribery arrest.

None of those items are mentioned in the cease-and-desist letter. But the document does mention Askar’s own willingness to accuse political critics of slanderous statements.

“No one understand the impact of a defamatory statement more than you,” the letter states. “You claim to live by a code that values truth, integrity and honor. That is why you filed a lawsuit against Andrew Duskin, who accused you of not having a college degree despite your representation that you did. You filed the lawsuit to protect yourself from misguided and unfounded attempts to assassinate your character. We applaud you for taking a stand against false statements.”

“However, the purpose of this letter is to demand that you hold yourself to the same standard and retract the statements you made against Mr. Donalds. There are plenty of ways you can advocate for your campaign without resorting to clearly false statements.”

August 7 Ltr to Askar by Jacob Ogles on Scribd

2020-08-10 Askar Response Letter (GG)[4153] by Jacob Ogles on Scribd

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Kris

    August 11, 2020 at 1:58 am

    Wow. Admittedly, I am biased against Byron Donalds(I automatically am against ANY politician who has a FELONY BRIBERY plea on their record and covers it up and lies about it), but my bias aside, it seems like Donalds’ team is being extra pathetic in this case.
    A cease-and-desist letter because Askar and crew think Donalds voted for Obama in 2008?!? Seriously? Because I would bet everything I own in two seconds that Byron Donalds voted for Obama in ‘08. I KNOW he did. He was a lifelong Democrat still in 2008- why did he not change his registration then if he was already a Republican in his heart? Why did he vote in the Democratic primary that year? Why did it take him over TWO YEARS more to switch to the GOP?
    Donalds defense is inconsistent and idiotic. He offers as proof that he didn’t vote for Obama a bunch of social media comments that began well into 2009, which proves nothing. He made them after voting for Obama, when he saw he had a chance to have a career as a Tea Party Republican a year after he voted for Obama.
    Donalds now rips into Mitt Romney, but in 2012 he enthusiastically volunteered for Romney. Just like he did Obama 4 years earlier.
    He switched it with Trump though- he said terribly condescending things about Trump when he thought his candidacy was a joke, but then in 2016 voted for Trump(probably- I have no proof he didn’t vote for Hillary). Of course, Donalds loves Trump now because his political career depends on that.
    Byron Donalds is the biggest phony I’ve ever seen in politics, and that is saying something. The fact is Donalds was a Democrat and switched to make money and seize power. I would LOVE to hear his mother say on camera that she had that discussion about Donalds voting for McCain in 2008- no way that happened.
    I AIN’T BUYIN’ WHAT BYRON THE FELON IS SELLIN’! I respect him more for his voting for Obama because at least that was REAL and from his heart! The “Conservative Character” he is doing now is just that- a fictional character

  • Jennifer

    August 11, 2020 at 8:16 am

    Yea? More on Askar’s military service, please! Would some of his unit’s fellow marines come forward? How about asking Askar to answer some basic questions? His service probably amounted to a few days of basic training before tapping out….. yet now he says he served – I guess that is “serving” like how he will serve in Congress! Crazy Casey and Freaky Fig.

Comments are closed.


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