The long and bitter divorce proceedings between Florida Congressman Alan Grayson and his ex-wife Lolita are turning out to be just the first act in an increasingly dark story. Lolita told Politico this week that Grayson was abusive during their marriage, allegations the Congressman vehemently denies. In the midst of their divorce proceedings, Jezebel has learned, Lolita also sent a letter to some of Grayson’s colleagues, accusing him of having many affairs and requesting their financial assistance.
Grayson is currently running in Florida’s Democratic Senate primary; his new wife Dena, meanwhile, is running to replace him in the House. The Senate primary election is set for August 30. Lolita Grayson contacted Politico to accuse her ex of having been repeatedly abusive over two decades of marriage.
Grayson is best known as a liberal firebrand, making shouty speeches from the House floor to shame and nudge his colleagues leftwards; a Washington Post profile from May found time to call him “colorful,” “perplexing,” “divisive,” and mention his propensity for saying “outlandish things” on TV.
Lolita Grayson, meanwhile, told Politico that Grayson is also an abuser. Some of her allegations coincide with his time in Congress.
“I want the people to know my story so they know what kind of man Alan Grayson really is,” she told the website in an email.
Politico found that she had called the police on Grayson at least four times between 1994 and 2014 and accused him of threatening to kill her. She also sought medical attention at least once but had no serious injuries.
No charges were filed in any of the incidents, and a 2014 abuse claim made by Lolita was dropped after Alan released a video showing that she had, in fact, hit him during the altercation, which began after the couple was living apart. Alan Grayson had returned to the house they shared to see their five children.
But Lolita was also not charged, Politico found, and prosecutors said the incident appeared “contrived” by her ex-husband:
An assistant state attorney who decided not to prosecute Lolita Grayson for battery had doubts about the video and whether the congressman was actually the victim.
“Incident on video appears staged contrived by alleged VT [victim],” referring to Alan Grayson, read a document approved by Assistant State Attorney Rebekah Shanai Taylor. It also called Alan Grayson’s claim that he was battered “not credible.” POLITICO obtained the document through a public records request.
That fight took place on March 1, 2014, in the middle of lengthy, messy divorce proceedings in which Alan accused Lolita of bigamy, saying she’d never divorced her first husband before marrying him.
Grayson’s attorney, Mark NeJame, tells Jezebel that Lolita’s allegations of abuse are false, adding that neither the police nor anyone within the court system has ever seen fit to bring charges against Grayson.
“Not one law enforcement officer has deemed that this rose to the level of probable cause,” he says, “Or that there should be any arrest or action against Congressman Grayson.”
NeJame also called the relationship “dysfunctional” and alleges that Lolita was the real abuser.
“People ask, ‘If she was so abusive, why did he stay with her?’” he says. “It was a dysfunctional relationship, but they had children. He stayed in it for years and years for the good of the children but at some point he said enough is enough. She’s retaliated as she swore she would. To take out her scorn on the eve of an election is rather tragic. She vowed to hurt him and she’s doing everything possible to do so.”
On January 4, 2015, as the divorce proceedings prepared to go to trial, Lolita Grayson wrote a letter addressed to Alan’s colleagues in Congress, saying he was unfaithful and had left her and their children penniless. She also requested their financial help. A copy of the letter was provided to Jezebel several months ago by someone who supports—but does not work for— a rival campaign. (The copy of the letter we got had the recipient’s name redacted; we’ve redacted Lolita’s contact information.)
NeJame says Rep. Grayson was aware of the letter at the time, and says its intent was to defame the Congressman to his colleagues. “We didn’t take any action at the time,” he says. “He talked to a few people who received the letter on the Hill.”
In April 2015, the Graysons agreed to annul their 25-year marriage, saving Alan Grayson from having to share what his attorney described at the time as “substantial assets” in a divorce settlement. Grayson is one of the richest people in Congress, worth an estimated $30 million. Politico says Lolita Grayson is now appealing the annulment.
The couple’s oldest child, Skye, now 21, released a statement to Politico virtually begging her parents to leave her out of this, and saying her mother is emotionally unstable:
“My mother has always struggled with emotional issues,” said Skye Grayson, who noted that several of the older children chose to live with their dad. “She physically lashed out at me, my siblings and our father, and then blamed us for it, victimizing us. This resulted in a considerably troubled childhood home.”
Lolita Grayson previously accused Skye of battery when the girl was just 18, a charge that was also dismissed.
We’ve contacted Lolita Grayson for comment about the abuse allegations and the letter and will update if she responds further.
Grayson got into a heated altercation with a Politico reporter this afternoon who asked him about the story:
Since Politico’s story was published,The Hill reports that two groups have also retracted their endorsements of Grayson: Democracy for America (DFA) and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). PCCC also requested that Grayson donate the money they gave to his campaign to a domestic violence charity in Orlando. NeJame says he is “disappointed” the groups didn’t contact him before rescinding their endorsements of his client: “All the facts and a long history of them and court rulings and sworn testimony refutes pretty much everything that she has said.”