Political campaigns can often get messy as candidates fling insults at the other side. For both parties, it’s simply part of the game. However, when an email and online message from Democrat Ashley Ehasz accused Newtown Athletic Club owner Jim Worthington — a Republican and supporter of her opponent Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick — of organizing a bus trip to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the area businessman took action.
A defamation suit was filed against Ehasz in early 2022 and, nearly a year later, she and Foglamp Digital, which assisted in her online campaign strategy, issued an apology to Worthington.
In an official statement, the company said the accusations — that Worthington not only funded buses to the insurrection, but was a major funder of the incident — contained in the campaign email and a linked website were false.
“Here is the truth. An organization founded by Mr. Worthington sponsored a bus trip for people to attend a separate rally on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C.; not the subsequent attack on the Capitol,” said Foglamp. “Mr. Worthington was not involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection … [he] deserves to have the record cleared.”
Ehasz said, “I also owe Mr. Worthington additional and separate apologies for approving the content of the email and website containing the harmful statements about him, and for not correcting the record on a timely basis.”
In an interview with The Times, Worthington said he’s grateful to Ehasz for setting things right. In fact, as part of the settlement, the pair agreed to meet for lunch in order to get to know one another and find common ground. Worthington is excited to properly sit down with Ehasz, whom he praised for being a war veteran and highly-intelligent congressional candidate.
“Hopefully, that can be an example for all of us, that we all live in this community, we all have the same goals to make our community and our country better,” said Worthington. “I think it’s a nice example for a lot of people that you don’t have to agree on 100 percent of things, but being respectful of each other is a must. People try to label people, whether it’s politics or whatever. It’s easier to label somebody rather than get to know them.”
Worthington reiterated the fact that those on the D.C. bus trip, which he said was organized by another member of his group People4Trump, were there to hear Donald Trump speak one last time, not cause an uproar.
He said in a previous statement, “Each of these individuals paid for their own bus ticket. They left at 5:30 a.m. in the morning and got back on their bus in Washington, D.C. at 3:30 p.m. to begin the trip home. Not one of them was near the Capitol entrance when the rioting took place, nor were most of them aware of any activities at the Capitol until after they got on the bus.”
Things may be moving in a positive direction regarding Ehasz, but Worthington isn’t done fighting to clear his name.
There are other lawsuits pending, including one against Greg Bullough, who launched a MoveOn petition that urged organizers to cut community partnership ties with the Newtown Athletic Club. Since this is a pending case, Worthington is currently unable to speak on the matter in depth.
“You have to stand up for yourself and you can’t let people slander your name, particularly someone like me who’s been in business for 45 years,” said Worthington. “We’ve done a lot for this community and the community’s done a lot for us, and that’s why we do it. At the end of the day, we can’t tolerate that stuff.”
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com