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Before resigning, Charlie Crist's campaign manager was arrested in domestic violence case

The Florida Democrat's gubernatorial campaign did not disclose Austin John Durrer’s arrest, saying Wednesday that he resigned to “focus on a family matter.”
Rep Charlie Crist, D-Fla., after voting on Aug. 23, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Rep Charlie Crist, D-Fla., after voting on Aug. 23 in St. Petersburg, Fla.Chris O'Meara / AP file

MIAMI — The manager of Charlie Crist’s Florida gubernatorial campaign was arrested in a domestic violence case a day before he resigned from the campaign, NBC News has learned.

Austin John Durrer, 43, was arrested early Tuesday on a second-degree misdemeanor assault charge following a dispute at a Cambridge, Maryland, home, according to online court records and the prosecutor in the case, Amanda Leonard, who read a probable cause affidavit to an NBC News reporter over the phone.

In a brief telephone interview with NBC News, Durrer acknowledged the arrest occurred in the dispute with the mother of his child, Jackie Whisman, with whom he lives. He said he pressed charges the following day, which NBC News confirmed via online court records. She confirmed the account and issued a joint statement with him.

“Very sadly, an incident took place this week at our home that we both regret. We are both working to drop legal charges and move forward," the statement said. "Our primary focus at this time is our daughter, our greatest joy, and we appreciate privacy and respect as we navigate this as a family.”

According to the probable cause affidavit read by Leonard to NBC News, the woman had marks on her face from the dispute.

“She [the alleged victim] indicated that there had been an argument that had turned physical with the father of her child who is identified as Austin Durrer. There were signs of physical injury to her face, consistent with what she reported,” Leonard, the interim state’s attorney for Dorchester County, told NBC News.

Durrer was arrested at the residence “on the spot” because police are empowered to do so “if officers are responding to a domestic violence-related call, there are signs of physical injury and the allegations are between either domestic partners or cohabitants within a 14-hour period," Leonard said.

The Crist campaign did not immediately return a request for comment. One Democrat familiar with the campaign and the controversy confirmed the arrest, which is why Durrer left the campaign.

The day after Durrer's arrest, Crist’s campaign announced that he had resigned, telling reporters that Durrer was departing the campaign three weeks before the election to “focus on a family matter.” Prior to the campaign, Durrer served as Crist's chief of staff in his Florida congressional office in Washington.

Durrer’s arrest the day before in a state outside Florida has not been previously reported. 

Prior to Durrer’s arrest, Crist’s campaign was trailing Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign in poll numbers, fundraising and television advertising. 

The state's attorney did not immediately provide NBC News a written copy of the probable cause affidavit, nor did the local police department in Cambridge.

Immediately after his arrest, Durrer was taken to a county district court commissioner who held a first-appearance hearing, found probable cause to support the misdemeanor assault charge and allowed Durrer to be released that day after posting a $10,000 bond, according to Leonard and online Dorchester County court records.

Among other notations, the court records indicate that Durrer was ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim and shall have to “vacate the home” and must “surrender firearms” if he possesses any.

His court date is set for Dec. 7. The second-degree misdemeanor charge carries with it a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $500 fine, Leonard said.