A new video posted in both Spanish and English on a new political committee’s Facebook page is bringing up a 1999 incident accusing state Rep. John Cortes of domestic violence.
The video, presented by Citizens For Integrity in Florida, features a mugshot of Cortez with a narrator declaring, “Warning! Don’t make John Cortes mad. He has a history of violence. He was arrested for punching his daughter in the head 8 to 10 times and slapping his wife.”
The 30-second spot then urges people to vote against Cortes in the Aug. 30 election.
Cortes is seeking re-election in the Kissimmee-based House District 43. He is in a primary battle with fellow Democrats former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel and Sara Shaw. There also is a write-in candidate for the district, so the Aug. 30 election will be closed to Democrats, with the winner virtually assured of election. Cortes beat Rangel in the 2014 primary.
Cortes told FloridaPolitics.com the incident involved a disciplinary action he took against his daughter Caridad E. Cortes when she was 17 and was out of control one night. Cortes did not deny striking his daughter, but said it was a corporal punishment situation, not domestic violence.
He said he did not touch his wife, speculating there may have been confusion because she, too, is named Caridad Cortes.
Kissimmee police responded and arrested him on Nov. 17, 1999, but he was not charged, he said. Osceola County Clerk of Court’s 9th Judicial Circuit Court records show he was arrested and booked for one count of domestic violence battery. In lieu of prosecution, he agreed to enter a diversion program and attend and complete parenting classes for teenagers, and to serve 20 hours of community service, according to the case file.
Cortes said the incident has come up several times in past election campaigns.
The political committee running the social media videos now is new, organized last week by Laura Colon of Kissimmee. She could not be reached for comment, and it is unclear whom the committee represents.