The Broward County Republicans are in turmoil today after revelations that a freshly elected member of their executive board is a man who once was charged with attempted murder in the savage claw-hammer beating of a then-classmate at a Los Angeles prep school for multi-millionaires’ children.
Four months after 28-year-old Rupert Tarsey was elected secretary, party officials have found out the young philanthropist and supporter of President Donald Trump is really Rupert Ditsworth.
And a decade ago, the then-Beverly Hills teenager was charged with attempted murder in Los Angeles after hitting Harvard-Westlake School classmate Elizabeth Barcay over the head at least 40 times, splitting her skull open.
Now, local GOP bigs are desperate for Tarsey to resign and worried about the image of the party in the overwhelmingly Democratic turf of former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Thing is, Tarsey says he was elected fair and square and has no plan to resign.
“Why should I resign,” he asked in an exclusive interview from his $2 million beachfront condo. “I did nothing wrong and I was elected. This is just party politics.”
According to records, Tarsey started using his mother’s maiden name when he moved to Fort Lauderdale two years after the assault.
“I’m estranged from my dad,” he said, adding he didn’t change his name in order to hide his real identity.
After earning an MBA from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Tarsey got married and had two children, with another one on the way.
For years, he quietly volunteered on Republican campaigns, including Trump’s. Then in May, Tarsey presented himself at the election for the party’s executive board. He won a three-candidate race for secretary with 75 votes.
Tarsey’s real identity was discovered by a member who alerted local GOP Chairman Bob Sutton over the Labor Day weekend.
“We were blindsided,” said Sutton, a schoolteacher. “He’s a member of the Knights of Columbus, for Christ’s sake. And he came highly recommended by the former chair. We had no idea what his background is. We want him out but he is refusing to resign. He deceived us. It looks like he even used a reputation management firm to make sure we wouldn’t find out who he is.”
Sutton suspended Tarsey from party functions on Tuesday.
The grandson of Jason Tarsey, owner of the historic Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas, Tarsey was arrested in 2007 after the violent incident in a car near the private school.
Tarsey, according to published reports, invited Barcay, the daughter of a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, to ride with him to Jamba Juice after a big exam.
Tarsey eventually parked the car and allegedly pulled a hammer from a backpack. He then started hitting her over the head, opened the passenger’s door and pulled her out while choking her before driving away.
According to the Times, Tarsey’s parents rushed him into psychiatric treatment as Barcay recovered painfully and eventually attended the school prom in a wheelchair.
At first, California prosecutors filed the case in juvenile court, but it was dismissed. They tried it again in adult court.
“In the end, I pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor,” Tarsey said. “It’s not the charges that matter, it’s what happens in court.”
Tarsey, 6 feet 2 inches tall, claimed self-defense.
“This whole thing is in retaliation for my speaking out against Bob [Sutton],” Tarsey said. “It’s politics.”
This story was originally published September 06, 2017 2:23 PM.