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Largo City Commission candidate charged with felony extortion

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A Largo City Commission candidate is in hot water after a threatening email sent to his opponent was traced back to him. Robert Avery allegedly sent an email to Aaron Darr threatening to release digitally acquired negative information about Darr unless he drops out of the race.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Avery is being charged with felony extortion.

Largo police were able to trace the anonymous email’s IP address to Avery.

The two candidates are running for Seat 3 on the Largo Commission. The winner of the race would replace incumbent Curtis Holmes.

It’s unclear what “negative information” Avery acquired that could potentially hurt Darr’s candidacy. The young activist is openly gay and speaks passionately about his status as HIV positive.

He’s already suffered one stint with negative digital content. While working on the Waiting for Hillary campaign in 2014 a disgruntled ex-boyfriend released risqué photos of Darr.

Darr, an Ohio native, is no stranger to the political process. In addition to working on the Waiting for Hillary campaign, Darr also worked with Chelsea Clinton at the Clinton Foundation’s human resources department.

Darr also worked on former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s unsuccessful New York City mayoral bid. Darr defended Weiner’s scandalous behavior that included inappropriate text messages to several women and ultimately led to his resignation from Congress. Darr called him an “intelligent, brilliant man who lacks judgment at times.”

Avery, meanwhile, is perhaps best known locally as a Good Samaritan. Avery pulled a gun on a man beating up another man last summer in a PetSmart parking lot. He claimed no one else was doing anything to break up the fight and, had he not acted, one man may have died. No charges were filed in the incident and police said Avery was well within his right to pull a legally concealed weapon.

Darr and Avery are both very different candidates. Darr is the more progressive of the two supporting a minimum-wage increase. Avery is pushing for lower taxes and better fiscal responsibility in the city.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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