Republican congressional candidate Anthony Sabatini is being slammed for associating with accused sex criminals.
“He’s cozy with pedophiles,” reads a direct mail piece hitting Central Florida inboxes. “Who else is he in bed with?”
The salacious piece was paid for the Citizens for Better Accountability PAC, and the headline just teases more pointed accusations. Many relate to the sordid cast of characters Sabatini associated with during his short stint in state politics, including Joel Greenberg, Cliff Maloney and Randy Ross.
Sabatini, a two-term state Representative, launched a campaign for Congress last year, initially filing against incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster before shifting to the more competitive Florida’s 7th Congressional District. The seat is represented now by Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, but she won’t seek re-election and a crowded field of GOP contenders is running in the district
The mailer slams Sabatini for a number of issues, including his history as a registered Democrat. He pre-registered as a Democrat in high school and in 2008 voted in the Democratic Primary for President between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama before becoming a Republican after 2012 while living in New York.
But his inability to forge positive relationships in Tallahassee, combined with a proclivity to befriend folks under criminal investigation at home, provides a bounty of content for the mailer.
“He’s a former Democrat who surrounds himself with criminals,” the mailer states.
It noted he relied on Ross, who in 2015 pleaded guilty to making a false insurance claim, for fundraising. But Ross by comparison to others named in the mailer seems like an upstanding citizen.
“He accepted payment from a convicted pedophile and sex trafficker,” the mailer states.
That’s a reference to former Seminole County Tax Collector Greenberg, who pleaded guilty in federal court to sex trafficking minors and awaits sentencing. Over the course of the criminal investigation into Greenberg, evidence showed Greenberg paid $7,500 in public funds for legal counsel days after Sabatini was admitted into the Florida Bar. The mailer labels the work as “dubious legal services” and noted Sabatini refused to return the money.
As a final smack, the piece notes Sabatini’s close association with Maloney, a political consultant working with far-right congressional candidates around the country. Maloney shared Sabatini tweets to his followers as recently as Tuesday.
In April, police in Pennsylvania charged Maloney for rape related to a 2013 incident while he attended the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. A woman told police Maloney had drugged and raped her in his dorm, and she still had Facebook messages where he responded to accusations with, “Thought we both had fun.”
The new mail piece hits Sabatini because he “pals around with alleged rapists and sex traffickers,” and shows clips and citations of media accounts backing up all its claims.
“Vote No on Sabatini!” the flyer communicates in large type.