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Nancy Smith

Broward Republicans, May I Introduce Rupert Ditsworth?

September 4, 2017 - 9:45pm

When political parties don't do their homework, bad things can happen. Everybody knows that. But few are as bad or clunkier or stranger than what's happened since the Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC) put its trust in a young man named Rupert Tarsey. 

Earlier this year Broward Republicans elected Tarsey, 28, their secretary. Executive Committee secretary is an important position within local party ranks. Certainly Tarsey won fair and square in a three-way race.

But then again, party faithful didn't know about his background. Why would they? Nobody in the party checked him out before he ran for office.

Said Robert Sutton, chairman of the Broward County Republican Party, "All I know is, (Supervisor of Elections) Brenda Snipes issued him a voter's registration card and he came highly recommended by a well-known, well respected attorney, state committeeman and former chairmain." 

As it turns out, had the rest of the committee known then what they're just beginning to learn now, Tarsey probably doesn't get in the front door.

Note, I said probably. The Tarsey family has plenty of money. More important, Tarsey claims stories of his violent background are either totally false or wildly exaggerated. He disavows even the 2007 stories in Los Angeles newspapers. "They aren't what you'll find on court records," he told me Monday.

Monday my access to those records, to Tarsey's side of a very bizarre story, was closed for the holiday. But other information was available.

Who knew the Rupert Tarsey of 2017 Fort Lauderdale is the Rupert Ditsworth of 2007 Beverley Hills, Calif.? Google Rupert Tarsey, you get nothing; Google Rupert Ditsworth, you find   the local party secretary has a past that's begun to spill on the Broward Republican Executive Committee like a can of wrong-color paint. 

Ditsworth/Tarsey was arrested and charged in 2007 with premeditated attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly beat fellow student Elizabeth Barcay with a claw hammer, "causing lacerations to (her) head, face and legs, District Attorney Lisa Tanner said." 

Pay no attention, Tarsey told me Monday. Nothing is as it seems.

  • He was never convicted of a felony. "'Charged with' and 'convicted' are two very different things," he said.
  • He didn't change his name between California and Florida to repackage himself for a new life in the Sunshine State. It was legally changed because his parents were divorced.
  • He was given a voter's registration card because he was never convicted of a felony. Ultimately, two of the three charges against him were dropped and the third was reduced to a misdemeanor. 
  • What the newspapers don't include, he said, is how the case ended. "I was charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony ... and given a suspended sentence." Ditsworth, listed on his arrest sheet as 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, said he hit Barcay with a claw hammer "in self-defense" because she had him pinned against his car.

See the attachment to "download," shown in blue, at the end of this article, called "Rupert Tarsey Retaliated Against ..."  It's his side of the story. Tarsey said he emailed it to 500 people over the weekend, when he found out news stories about him from 2007 were circulating.

He blamed poisonous politics, saying he had been targeted for "voting with the majority of the Board in favor of removal of the chairman (Sutton) in the Board vote. Prior to the Board vote, I had been informed by Tom Lauder, a close supporter of Mr. Sutton, that if I helped to oust Mr. Sutton, I would have negative articles spread about me." 
Mostly, though, Tarsey blamed Benjamin Bennett, a licensed private investigator and the committee's sergeant-at-arms, "who said that he is ... working for Mr. Sutton, who began asking me questions." Bennett, he said, is a former cop convicted 32 years ago of dealing drugs. "He has no business questioning anyone," said Tarsey. He even supplied me with the copy of a 1985 Sun-Sentinel story about Bennett.

In the meantime, it's understandable the name Ditsworth might not work for Tarsey anymore.

Rupert Ditsworth/Tarsey
Rupert Ditsworth/Tarsey

When the claw-hammer incident happened, Ditsworth was a 17-year-old student two months shy of his 18th birthday. Like the victim, he was attending the $32,000-a-year Harvard-Westlake prep school. According to the Los Angeles Times, police said the assault left Barcay with a broken leg and a broken nose. The girl's mother, Barbara Hayden, said her daughter was struck 40 times and that her scalp was split. "It was a completely unprovoked attack," she said. "He wasn't a boyfriend, and he was barely an acquaintance. The fact is, he is a danger not only to her but the community." 

To see a complete story of the incident from the viewpoint of Barcay's family, read this in the June 7 Chronicle, the Harvard-Westlake School newspaper -- "Injuries don't keep senior from prom, graduation."

News stories say Ditsworth posted the required $1 million bail; Harvard-Westlake confirmed it expelled him hours after the incident happened and he was not allowed to graduate. His parents took him to a psychiatric hospital for treatment immediately after the attack, stories say.

A day after his 18th birthday he was rounded up and rearrested so he could be charged as an adult.

Barcay's family filed a civil action against Ditsworth and his mother, Patrice Tarsey. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount of money.

If Tarsey acted in self-defense in 2007, why did he and his mother settle the civil action case? "To make it go away," he told me.

Patrice Tarsey is a real estate heiress whose father Jason Tarsey owned the Dunes Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, according to The Wall Street Journal. Rupert Tarsey now works in real estate in Fort Lauderdale with his mother. He calls it "the family business."

It looks as if Tarsey was in a mental hospital for up to three years, then beginning May 4, 2010, was allowed to do his "community supervision" in Florida. See this report.

Tarsey, who married in 2014, says this: "I was given probation, however I never completed my probation as it was later terminated by the court (See the Minute Order from California in the blue "download" attachment below). There was no 'deal' involved in my termination of probation or the amendment to misdemeanor.  Penal code 245, under which I was convicted,  is called a 'wobbler.' It can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony at the discretion of the court."

Sergeant-at-Arms Bennett said if Tarsey wants to retaliate against him by comparing pasts, so be it. "He can be my guest. I have not hidden behind another name. I ran for Republican state committeeman last year. I have no concern whatsoever who wants to put out something that is public record."

Said Bennett, "The truth is, neither party does a good job of vetting candidates for office -- for party office or for government office. We fall down at running background checks. ...

"Basically, Rupert Tarsey lied his way into the party," Bennett contends. "Sure, as a member of the Knights of Columbus, he's in good standing. But that's not enough information and nobody made an effort to check a little further."

What will happen next? Hard to say. Republican Party of Florida Chair Blaise Ingoglia said, "It's a local party issue. If the people who elected him didn't have all the information about him when he was elected, then certainly they should be made aware. If we have to drain the swamp, that's what we'll do."

In general, dismissing the need for background checks -- or making excuses for lame ones that turn up rotten eggs -- is a nonpartisan habit. It wears no particular party label.

Ever notice? The secret sauce is money. In the age of the multi-million-dollar campaign, a person of substance -- millionaire families expecially welcome -- can buy anything in politics their hearts desire, even an internal office like executive committee secretary, or a carpetbagger's dream -- a district primary 100 miles away from home. 

It's my considered opinion that the background oversight of the well-to-do Tarsey name was always going to happen.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith


Ingoglia is a hack and needs to go. The real predator is Robert Sutton who continues to harass grassroots Broward Republicans in a effort to protect his power and the power of the elite class. Blaise has gone out of his way to protect Robert Sutton and his thug like friends. Drain the Swamp by removing Sutton and Blaise.

No the predator is the guy who beat a girl with a hammer you moron

Any updates or was Rupert saved by the hurricane?

Law Enforcement needs to check if he's involved in other crimes. "Claw Hammer" is a lovely nickname!

Norman Bates and his formerly-rich mother - scary.

Thank you for covering this Nancy. What a disgusting example of a human being! I am glad the truth is out!

This is a perfect example of White Privilege with bought his way out what should of put this lunatic in jail. Very creepy he is a mental case, another sociopath who supports the deplorable trump

You are so right!

It's all good. Hes a Republican. They don't care about who the person is.

Is that man's DNA on file and has it been compared to any unsolved crimes? It most certainly should be...

Ehh... Really have to question why this article was written in the first place...Reeks of a politicized smear job by a liberal hack looking for attention.. Granted, that attack, as its written, sounds horrific and if this dude did lie to get into BREC, it will be handled BUT there are 2 sides to every event. If it was that serious, why were the felony charges dropped and one changed to misdemeanor. Everyone has something in their past I'm sure they're not proud of. And the constant references to his family being wealthy in the article, like that's part of his being guilty, is what really brings into question the intentions of this so-called journalist

Nope. The guy attacked a teenage girl with a claw tooth hammer. This is just sunlight on part of this guy’s past that should be illuminated. Nice try, Ditsworth. Your press release about your website was pretty transparent, too.

Given that Mr. Tarsey/Ditsworth went out of his way to CHANGE HIS NAME, and cover up his past, what fair-minded person would object to a story of facts. You seem to want to ignore facts because they are "politically motivated." I don't know that they were - or were not. But this type of incident is no minor thing, and it's ironic you write this, given how, in the US, many men are being fired, charged with assault, sexual assault. The common thread is they ALL have money, and they all did this many years ago. Why should Mr. Tarsey be exempt? What's ironic is that he sees all this as something that just happened to it, and now disputes the facts, that it ever happened. Clearly, he's a liar. Clearly, YOU don't seem to care, which usually points to that "birds-of-a-feather" truism.

The girl was struck 40 times with a hammer and choked. This is a far cry from a youthful mistake. The story's relevant because he was elected to a position with a Florida county GOP.

Dude, I was there. My daughter was a classmate. The attack was incredibly vicious and unprovoked. This guy is a monster and if you think what he did was a youthful indiscretion like any other then I suggest you familiarize yourself a bit more with the details.

A mother with a law degree and no conscience, obscene amounts of money and Las Vegas gambling connections meant that this sociopath eluded justice for the random attack on a classmate who narrowly escaped death. >>To Patrice Tarsey, Versailles is “the most beautiful palace ever built.” So in 1992 when she saw a newly built house in Los Angeles that was inspired by Le Petit Trianon, she jumped at the chance to own it. The roughly 11,000-square-foot home in Holmby Hills has wrought-iron and marble balconies and gold-leaf moldings throughout. In the entry there is a 46-foot-high dome, with twin rose marble circular staircases topped by an 18th century Baccarat crystal chandelier. In the library and living room the cherry wood floors, in a Bordeaux pattern, are a copy of the floors in the Hall of Mirrors. Ms. Tarsey is a real estate heiress whose father Jason Tarsey owned the Dunes Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. A few years ago, she relocated to Florida, and rented the house out. Now she’s planning to list it for $22.5 million with Gregory Bega and Lindsay Galbraith of Sotheby’s International Realty."

Link to $22M LA house owned by Patrice Tarsey, mother who sent her son Rupert Tarsey (aka Ditsworth) to mental hospital after he attacked female classmate with hammer, rather than let him face justice.

Why so many bad guys in the real estate empire business? Ditsworth/Tarsey, Robert Durst, Donald Trump and Fred Trump...

Holy mother of god! You really can get away with absolutely anything if you're rich, though it helps to be white as well. Jesus.

This guy grew up in a house in Beverly hills worth $22 million. Rich people get ahead in life no matter what. It makes me sick.

Interesting - but he doesn't fit the bill for a "Genuine NY Jewish Banker/Lawyer". I thought the Majority of "Professional Politicians" fit this description. Need to dump this Goon.

God, I love your work, Ms. Smith

Another psychopath on the loose. Right here in Broward.

Ditsworth needs to relocate out if Florida -- like maybe a California mental asylum. (Wonder if his wife knew she was marrying someone of his ilk. )

Hey Nancy; What's a Ditsworth? I dunno either but he's another one to gossip about!

C'MON YOU POLITICIAN MORONS: This is EXACTLY how we ended up with Barak Hussein Obama as president for EIGHT, long, painful, embarrassing YEARS; a president whose records (citizenship, educational, criminal, etc., etc.) were "sealed" from 'day one'; and will not be revealed (among other 'faux pas' destructive actions of his) for at least TWENTY FIVE YEARS ! {THIS is why Obama is STILL "organizing" (via 30,000+ dangerous activist (including former SEIU thugs and current 'black lives matter' thugs) destructive actions around the country creating death, injury, havoc, and intended suppression of our "First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution's "Bill of Rights". This niggler (LOOK IT UP!) former President refuses to gracefully "fade away into history" as has been the refreshing custom of all former President up until THIS joker...

None of that is true. Absolutely 100% not true.

I am amazed you can write because apparently you can't read. Alt-right people love to call names and make up "facts."

You are delusional,

RWNJ (Right-wing Nut Job)!!! Here's a live one for you, folks!


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nancy smith

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