Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, a candidate for the US House of Representatives in the Florida 27th Congressional District, has been slapped with a defamation lawsuit seeking $5 million in damages. The suit comes after Rosen Gonzalez made #MeToo allegations against a fellow-South Florida Democrat Rafael Velasquez.
Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is “Harvey Weinseined”
Currently serving as a City Commissioner for Miami Beach, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez alleged in October 2017 that Velasquez had recently behaved in an inappropriate manner during a drive back from a restaurant. At the time Velasquez was running for Miami Beach City Commissioner himself, and was soliciting Rosen Gonzalez’s help.
Speaking to POLITICO she said, “I was ‘Harvey Weinsteined’ by Rafael Velasquez, the candidate I have been supporting and raising money for in the Miami Beach commission race.”
According to Rosen Gonzalez, Velasquez did more than just speak inappropriately. He exposed himself and tried to force her hand onto his crotch.
“He took it out. I tried not to look. I saw it out of the corner of my eye. And I can’t forget it. And that’s the worst part. I have felt guilty and horrible and ashamed about this and I wasn’t the one who did anything wrong. He put me in a situation, and it’s like what do I do?”
Velasquez denied the allegations vehemently, producing cordial text exchanges between him and Rosen Gonzalez as evidence.
But Rosen Gonzalez explained that her decision to take her story public did not form immediately.
She told POLITICO, “I was going to stay quiet, but if he whips out his willy with a strong middle-aged woman like me, I am worried about what he will do to younger girls when he is a man of influence and power.
“I do not think he should be elected to any office, and this is a man I believed was an authentic soul.”
The many trials of Rafael Velasquez
Late October and early November 2017 were pretty brutal for Velasquez, who was accused by local publicist Frances Alban of inappropriate sexual behavior on the same day as Rosen Gonzalez’s allegations became public. According to Alban, Valasquez grabbed her butt as they posed for a photograph at a North Beach Youth Center meeting the previous June.
Kirsten Rosen Gonzalez (5th from left) and Frances Alban (4th from right)
Speaking to the Miami Herald, Alban said, “I felt like maybe it wasn’t sufficient enough to say anything. But it made me feel uncomfortable. I know it’s not right. When I saw Kristen’s story, I thought, OK.
“I regret my reaction, and I know that I’m in P.R. and used to being extremely accommodating. I saw him as someone of power, of influence. He seemed like a threat to me. I didn’t want to muddy the waters with him.”
The allegations provoked Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Juan Cuba to suspend digital ads and mailed fliers the party were providing to support Velasquez’s campaign. On election day, Velasquez was defeated.
The accused accuses back
In a statement made up of rambling, run-on sentences issued on Thursday, Rafael Velasquez announced he was suing Kristen Rosen Gonzalez for defamation of character:
“Today, I am filing this civil action in order to hold, criminal commissioner Rosen Gonzalez, accountable for the damages her actions caused to me, my family, and business by making up a lurid story of a sexual assault last year during a period when she knew she could use the power of her public office, in the height of an election, to influence a close election and thrust her own congressional campaign….”
…and on and on and on.
Velasquez is seeking $5 million in damages. When the Miami Herald sought comment from Kristen Rosen Gonzalez she referred them to her attorney, who in turn said he had not yet seen the filing.
Why Velasquez has waited over six months after the allegations were made public to take this action is not clear. Whatever his reasons, he is taking enormous risks. If he were to be successful, it would undoubtedly be a blow to the #MeToo movement (or at least require a major rethinking of public attitudes). If he loses or withdraws his case, however, it would seem unlikely he could make any sort of political comeback for many years.
Either way, the scandals involving Miami-area Democrats keep piling up.