In a press conference Sunday afternoon, Orange-Osceola County State Attorney Jeff Ashton confirmed his ties to the Ashely Madison website.
Earlier, the East Orlando Post discovered Ahston’s personal information was leaked along with millions of other account holders who access the site with boasts the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair.”
“Two years ago I was curious about the Ashley Madison website and used my personal card to sign up for the site,” said a tearful Ashton. “I deeply regret my affiliation with the site which has caused a great amount of stress and heartache to my wife and children.
“I want to publicly apologize to each of them for this embarrassment and for my blatant disregard for their feelings,” he added.
Ashton denies reports he used government equipment to access the site, but did admit to using public Wi-Fi through the Orange County courthouse. His involvement with the site did not go beyond curiosity, Ashton said, and no laws were broken.
He then asked for the public’s forgiveness for an “incredibly stupid decision,” insisting the activities had no effect on his official duties.
After a statement, the Orange-Osceola State Attorney answered questions from reporters for 10 minutes, admitting possible political motivation from the original story but believes they were rightful in doing so. He also admits visiting the website while in his office but hopes that the public will stand up these activities against his previous 34 years of service. Ashton couldn’t verify allegations that he visited the site up to 84 times but admitted visits on multiple occasions over a 2 year period. He continued saying he has no plans to step down from his position.
Prior to the press conference reports surfaced of a possible countywide investigation of government computers to explore similar uses by other employees.
Asher first rose to fame as one of the lead prosecutors on the nationally watched Casey Anthony trial.
After Anthony was acquitted in the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, Ashton retired from the State Attorney’s office and went on a book tour before deciding to run against his longtime predecessor Lawson Lamar in one of the bitterest races in Central Florida in 2012. His heightened name recognition and popularity from the trial played a key part in his victory.
Ashton is scheduled to be in court Monday morning to prosecute a case.
On Wednesday, a hacking group called “Team Impact” released millions of Ashley Madison users with various spreadsheets surfacing on-line with personal information of the sites customers. The Orange-Osceola State Attorney is the second elected official to admit activities on Ashley Madison. Last week, State Rep. Ritch Workman admitted to visiting the site; he was not married at the time.
Asked by reporters if he would disclose the email address he used for registration on the site, Ashton refused.
“I’ve humiliated myself enough for one day,” he said.