Jason Shepherd, a Republican candidate for a state House seat in Marietta, called this morning to give advance warning.
He was about to get dumped on by Georgia Democrats, he said. And with the exception of Tom DeLay, no one has ever produced a flattering mug shot.
Sure enough, the package arrived shortly afternoon. Ten years ago, as Jason Goldfarb, Jason Shepherd was arrested on a charge of domestic violence by his live-in fiancée.
The charges were later dropped, but paperwork lives forever. (The state Democratic party does not dispute the lack of prosecution.)
Shepherd, now 34, faces Democratic incumbent Terry Johnson in the Nov. 2 general election.
First, about the arrest as Mr. Goldfarb. Said the GOP candidate:
”My parents got divorced in ’88. My father basically abandoned us. That was when I was in middle school. [My mother] changed her last name back to her maiden name, Shepherd. And re-enrolled me in high school as Jason Shepherd, just to avoid confusion.”
He graduated from high school and the University of Georgia as Jason Shepherd.
But he didn’t formally change his name until 2003, when he was attempting to import his German fiancée – they are now married — and didn’t want to leave any loose ends for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to trip over.
There was no attempt, he said, to elude an arrest record – just an effort to cut every tie with his father.
Now, as for the eight hours he spent in lock-up in 2000. Shepherd was living with another young lady in an apartment at the time. He says the relationship was rocky – and that she was the abusive partner.
Said Shepherd, who was working for political strategist Mark Rountree and Landmark Communications at the time:
”A week prior to that, she’d hit me and beat up on me a little bit. I said, we’re done with this. If you touch me again, I’m going to call the police.
“About a week later, we got into another argument, and she went after me again and I pushed her off. And I said, ‘This is it. This relationship is over. You need to pack your stuff and move out. I gave her til the end of the week.”
She moved out one night, and sent a Cobb County sheriff’s deputy with a warrant — accusing Shepherd of placing his hands around her neck. A hearing was held three days later, at which the girlfriend sought a temporary protective order.
Under oath, she spoke of Shepherd “trying to strangle me with his hands and then using a rope to try to kill me. He said he would try to poison me or make it look like a suicide, and has been thinking about killing for a while.”
Said Shepherd: “That is absolutely not true. I never said or did anything like that…. She makes things up, to make herself into a victim.”
A six-month protection order against Shepherd was issued. The girlfriend ignored court orders to appear subsequent hearings, Shepherd said, and the charges were dropped.
Shepherd said the incident hasn’t been a secret. He informed Scott Johnson, chairman of the Cobb GOP, about the arrest when he was recruited as a candidate.
The House Republican leadership was informed, he said, as was the State Bar of Georgia – when Shepherd applied for membership.
“I have been, on a small scale, open and honest about it,” Shepherd said. In a release issued late this afternoon, he added this:
“I voluntarily went through a diversion program before it even went to court, in an effort of good faith. However, the charges were totally dropped because there was no truth to them.”
Shepherd said the only other blemish on his record is a speeding ticket he was issued in upstate New York in 2004.