MoveOn supporter remorseful after roughing up conservative in Arizona

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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MoveOn and Republicorps member Fred Highton says he regrets initiating a physical altercation with a conservative Tea Partier at a political event at the University of Arizona earlier this month.

“If I’m going to take part in these political events, I need to learn some self-control,” Highton said.

Conservative James Massee released video of Highton grabbing his throat and face after the face-stomping video from a Kentucky rally for Republican Rand Paul.

“I released it just to show there are some lefties who could be violent too,” Massee said.

Massee said he approached Highton while he was giving a theatrical performance of how MoveOn thinks Republicans treat the working and middle classes to voice his opinion at which point he said Highton started choking him. Massee said he then found a nearby police officer to take control of the situation instead of hitting Highton back. Massee chose not to press charges and plans to stick with that decision now even though he has gone public with his story.

WATCH: MoveOn member grab Tea Partier by throat

“I’m a forgiving guy and the guy got caught up in the heat of the moment,” Massee said. “He’s just some guy who’s very diluted in the MoveOn group.”

Highton said the incident, which took place at an October 19 event before a debate between incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Republican challenger Jesse Kelly, did not happen exactly as Massee said it did. He emphasized that he did not choke Massee, but said he is still sorry. Highton said Massee egged him on more than was apparent in a web video interview, mostly by yelling “jubber, jubber, jubber,” into his ear while he was performing.

“When I finished my performance, my initial response was to swat him,” Highton said, adding that he managed to hold back.

Agape Video’s Mike Shaw, a friend of Massee’s, published the video, which was shot by University of Arizona student and College Republicans member Coty McKenzie.

“Someone saw James getting choked, and, from what James told me, only caught the tail end of it because he wasn’t able to record in time,” Shaw said. “What you see on the video is all of what the guy recorded.”

Shaw said he doubts Massee would have told anybody about the attack if it were not for what happened in Kentucky at a Rand Paul rally.

“If you look at the Rand incident, when the guy stomps on her shoulder, there’s a guy right there that says, ‘hey, stop,’ and you can see his hands go out and you can hear him say ‘hey, stop,’” Shaw said. “You see James being choked and there are people all around and nobody tries to stop him.”

Matthew Boyle