Bannon's baggage is bigger than Breitbart: New Trump CEO's domestic violence charges resurface along with questions of voter fraud

Trump's third campaign chief may soon regret stepping out of the Breitbart shadows and into national scrutiny

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 26, 2016 3:42PM (EDT)

Stephen Bannon   (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)
Stephen Bannon (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

Back in 1996, Donald Trump's newly-minted campaign CEO was charged with domestic violence and attempting to dissuade a victim from reporting a crime.

According to the New York Times, all charges against former Breitbart News head Stephen K. Bannon were dropped when his then-wife, Mary Louise Piccard, did not show up in court to testify against her alleged attacker. A declaration filed by Piccard in the couple's mid-1990s divorce case stated Bannon left his wife with red marks on her neck and wrist after a New Year’s Day 1996 argument at their home in Santa Monica, California, which began when she woke early to feed their twin daughters and he “got upset at her for making noise."

Bannon, the documents first obtained by Politico claim, grabbed Piccard “by the throat and arm” and then threatened “to take the girls and leave.”

“I took the phone to call the police and he grabbed the phone away from me throwing it across the room, and breaking it as he [was] screaming that I was a ‘crazy fucking cunt!'” Piccard said in the divorce filing. The document went on to state that police responded to the 1996 incident and wrote up a report.

Piccard later claimed that Bannon instructed her to leave town to avoid testifying against him, telling her that “if I went to court he and his attorney would make sure that I would be the one who was guilty.” Bannon threatened his estranged wife, telling her that if he went to jail, she “would have no money and no way to support the children.”

Piccard said that she complied in fear, fleeing with their two children until his “attorney phoned me and told me I could come back.”

And according to a new report from The Guardian, Bannon went on to rent a Florida house for another ex-wife, Tea Party activist Diane Clohesy, a residence he is reportedly registered to vote at, but he did not live there. His ex-wife moved out of the home earlier this year.

“I have emptied the property,” Luis Guevara, the owner of the house, told The Guardian. “Nobody lives there … we are going to make a construction there.”

Trump's campaign insisted that Bannon lives in Florida, but is residing at "another location."

Under Florida law, voters must be legal residents of the state where they are registered to vote. The Division of Elections said residency is established when “person mentally intends to make his or her permanent residence” in the location — and it can be proven with a driver’s license, mail addressed to the house and “doing other activities normally … associated with home life.”

However, Michael McDonald, of electionlawblog, checked the voter file and found no evidence of Bannon actually ever voting in Miami-Dade.

Still, another bit of reporting from The Guardian may cause new headaches for Trump's third campaign chief:

Bannon also co-owns a condominium in Los Angeles and is known to stay at the so-called “Breitbart embassy”, a luxurious $2.4m townhouse beside the supreme court in Washington DC, where his website’s staff work from basement offices. A Bloomberg profile of Bannon published last October, with which he cooperated, stated that Bannon “occupies” the townhouse and described it as being “his.”

But according to records at the DC office of tax and revenue, the Breitbart house is actually owned by Mostafa El-Gindy, an Egyptian businessman and former member of parliament. Gindy has received favorablecoveragefrom Breitbart News, which styles him as a “senior statesman”, without an accompanying disclosure that he is the website’s landlord.

None of the Breitbart articles about El-Gindy ever mentioned that he was Bannon’s landlord.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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