RPOF chair candidate endures mudslinging

Why I'm standing by Dave Bitner

By Chris Ingram

Dave Bitner called me last night and broke the news about a now public revelation that he and his wife Wendy  had a domestic issue thirteen or fourteen years ago. Bitner’s telephone call followed a report in the St. Pete Times that had just been posted on the paper’s website which you can read by clicking here. He proceeded to explain the entire situation to my satisfaction. Not only that, his wife Wendy got on the phone and reaffirmed Bitner’s version of events and answered my questions.

Photo: Dave Bitner (r) with former House Speaker John Thrasher. 

We spoke further about what this means to his campaign for chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. It’s never good in politics to be on defense or to have to explain your behavior, but  the Bitners appear to be weathering the storm and sailing on. Bitner strongly stated his displeasure for this type of campaign tactic and pledged he has not, and will not engage in such devices.

Ultimately, only God and the Bitners know what happened on that day in 1997 which lead Mrs. Bitner to file for an injunction against her husband. What we do know is shortly thereafter she withdrew the filing and to this day maintains that the claims she made in the injunction “did not happen.”

It is important to note that her withdrawal of the injunction occurred long ago – this isn’t a matter of her recently changing her story for the convenience of her husband’s candidacy for RPOF chair. In a moment of naiveté, Bitner said since the injunction had been dropped he figured there was no record of it existing and therefore he never felt the need to share the information publicly before his opponents did. Note to future candidates: do a public records search on yourself before running for office.

The fact is, Mr. Bitner was never arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted of any crime. The false charges were never criminal in nature — they were made in a civil proceeding. He and his wife worked out their problems and recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.

Don’t get me wrong, I was disappointed and somewhat let-down by the revelations I learned about yesterday. I thought about it overnight considering whether or not I should continue my support of his candidacy. Dropping him like a hot potato would have been easy. But I rarely take the easy path. Ultimately, I have considered the following facts and decided to stand with Dave Bitner in his bid for chairman:

1) He was not charged with any crime;

2) The accusations made against him were withdrawn and his accuser said it didn’t happen;

3) He has not violated the public trust;

4) There is no apparent pattern of reckless or illegal behavior;

5) He and his wife remain happily married;

6) I trust a man and his word until given a strong reason not to; and,

7) I am convinced he is the only candidate in the race who has the skills, maturity, and experience to reform the Republican Party of Florida.

Dave, thanks for putting your name and reputation on the line. Don’t let us down.

Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him at: [email protected].