Rep. Debbie Lesko and Michael Muscato

Rep. Debbie Lesko and Michael Muscato, her challenger in the 8th Congressional District race, faced off in a debate two weeks ago.

Rep. Debbie Lesko is defending her seat in the 8th Congressional District against Democrat challenger Michael Muscato.

Though highly favored for reelection after taking 55% of the votes to win the 2018 election, the Peoria Republican was placed on the defensive by an Arizona Republic story about her past, which includes bankruptcy filings and a misdemeanor conviction.

The Glendale Star asked Lesko if there were inaccuracies in the story and for any comments she had.

“Over 35 years ago, I married a man who became physically and mentally abusive to me and my young daughter,” Lesko responded via email. “On many occasions, he threatened to kill us. He is still in prison. As he was a con-man who used multiple aliases, I had to list all the alias names he had used for me to protect myself in bankruptcy proceedings. Due to his web of lies and deceit, I was implicated with a misdemeanor 32 years ago. The misdemeanor was later dismissed. 

“Between the abuse and financial ruin, my life was a living hell. I have certainly made mistakes in my life, but I learned from those mistakes. Today, I use what I learned to help others who are in similar situations. I decided to move forward with my life and make a difference.”

A website she published, leskofacts.com, states, “Before I met this man, my life was successful. ... Since putting this horrific time in my life behind me, I have been blessed with a wonderful husband, two more children and four grandchildren.”

The Glendale Star also asked Muscato for his take on the story, published less than two weeks before Election Day.

“My heart breaks for my opponent, Congresswoman Lesko, and all victims of domestic violence,” said Muscato, a Peoria resident who owns a Glendale gym.

But Muscato said he was troubled by the story.

“Why did it take 12 years for us to learn about this? What government documents did Lesko tamper with? Why did she flee the state of Texas after the arrest warrant was issued? These are serious charges—and as a member of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees, this is information that could have been used against her, our country and state. We need to know if she is a national security risk,” Muscato said.