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July 12, 2020 8:04 pm

Florida Congressional Candidate Defends Mel Gibson From Accusations of Antisemitism

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Florida congressional candidate Jessica “Jessi” Melton. Photo: Twitter.

A Republican congressional candidate in Florida has defended actor Mel Gibson from charges of making antisemitic remarks.

Jessica “Jessi” Melton, who is hoping to run against longtime incumbent Ted Deutch in Florida’s 22nd district, made the comments last month after actress Winona Ryder — who is Jewish — repeated in an interview that Gibson had once called her an “oven dodger.”

Gibson has a long history of antisemitic statements.

“The left attacking Mel Gibson over hearsay according to clepto girl,” Melton tweeted, a reference to an incident years ago in which Ryder was arrested for shoplifting.

“Of course they are,” Melton added. “He’s Christian and ready to expose all their dirty secrets.”

In a subsequent radio interview, Melton defended her comments, saying Gibson is working to reveal rampant pedophilia in Hollywood, which appears to be the “dirty secrets” she was referring to.

She added that she is supported by the Republican Jewish Coalition and supports Israel. The RJC told the Floridian that it had not yet endorsed a candidate in the race. Typically, the group does not publicly endorse until after the party has selected its candidate.

In comments to The Algemeiner, Melton said that at the time of her tweet she was not fully acquainted with Gibson’s antisemitism.

“At the time I commented on Mel Gibson’s exposure of pedophilia in Hollywood, I was not aware of the vile comments he had made in the past,” she said. “When he made those comments, I was still a teen and unaware of his anti-Semitic history.”

She added, “As a long time friend of the Jewish community, a woman who has spent an extended period of time in Israel, and was married in Jerusalem, it saddens me to see the media attack my candidacy in this way. To set the record straight, I do not condone hate speech against the Jewish community or any other race or religion, for that matter.”

Melton also took the opportunity to critique her Democratic opponent’s record on Israel.

“Ted Deutch … has abandoned his promises to Israel, consistently voting in lockstep with Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib,” she said. “Most recently, Deutch circulated a letter to Congress and to Prime Minister Netanyahu advising Israel against a unilateral annexation on the West Bank, citing serious repercussions should Israel move forward. He is not a friend of Israel in actions, only in empty promises.”

Melton has also previously made inflammatory comments comparing supporters of gun control, like Deutch, to the Nazis, saying, “100% of gun grabbing lawmakers, including you, don’t know that six million Jews were murdered as a result of giving up their gun rights in the name of progressivism.”

Melton appears to have a weakness for conspiracy theories about pedophilia. Media Matters for America has documented that she appeared on the YouTube channel InTheMatrixxx, which promotes the “QAnon” conspiracy theory.

QAnon alleges, among other evidence-free theories, that major political and economic leaders are part of a massive conspiracy to engage in pedophilia and protect pedophiles.

During her interview, Melton was asked about QAnon and said, “I mean, I know you’re kind of just similar to me. I mean, you call it like you see it. And a lot of that are supposed to be things we don’t speak of.”

She later called one of the show’s hosts “my friend.”

Melton is among four Republicans who are competing in the primaries for the nomination to challenge Deutch.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comments from Melton in response to criticism of her Gibson tweet.

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