Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) has filed for a divorce from his second wife in Tulare County Superior Court.
In a filing with the Tulare County Superior Court dated March 10, Mathis requested the court end his seven-year marriage to his current wife, Aubrey Mathis. The couple have twin six-year-old children and have requested the court grant joint physical and legal custody. The assemblyman previously ended his first marriage to Amber Mathis in 2008.
Mathis v Mathis is set for a case management conference at 10 a.m. on July 21 in Department 8 before Judge Karri Gilmore. The assemblyman is represented by Visalia attorney David Allen. The soon-to-be former Mrs. Mathis is represented by El Dorado Hills-based attorney Rebecca Esty-Burke.
Both members of the couple list irreconcilable differences as the cause for the dissolution-of-marriage request.
Spousal Support Requested
While the original petition for dissolution filed by Devon Mathis asks the court to terminate its ability to award spousal support to either member of the couple, Aubrey Mathis’ response on April 13 asks the court to grant her alimony in an amount to be determined by the court at a later date. She also requested the court terminate its ability to award Devon Mathis spousal support.
Both parties will present their inventory of community property in future filings, while only Aubrey Mathis listed a general description of her separate property. Devon Mathis’ filing says the “full nature and extent” of his separate property is unknown by the assemblyman.
Aubrey Mathis currently works as a real-estate agent in Visalia, a job she began in May of last year, according to her Facebook profile. She and Devon Mathis did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article.
Devon Mathis also has three minor children from his first marriage. According to filings in that case, Mathis was accused twice of physically abusing his children. He denied the claims.
Neither did the assemblyman respond to emails and calls for comment on his recent online behavior. Apparently emboldened by his recent re-election to state assembly, or perhaps upset by his current domestic situation, Mathis has taken to taunting his constituents via social media.
Most recently, the Devon J. Mathis for Assembly page on Facebook posted a Los Angeles Times story regarding the increasing possibility Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom will face a recall election. When one regular respondent accused Mathis of “hyperpartisanship,” and asked if the assembly member had “accomplished anything between Facebook rants?” he received a surprisingly immature response apparently intended to provoke anger.
The response, immediate and harsh, accused Austin Slater–the person who asked about Mathis’ accomplishments or lack thereof–of ignorance. Mathis said he has no responsibility to be fair while on the campaign trail. The response contained terms frequently used to degrade others in political discussions.
“Clearly, you’re too triggered to realize this is a ‘campaign page’ and not a ‘state page,’” Mathis wrote.
All social media accounts used by Mathis and his agents or campaign have been deemed by the courts as official communications.
Angering ‘Snowflake’ Voters, Mathis’ Goal
Mathis then announced how pleased he was to have caused Slater and others upset.
“Part of campaign fuel is the tears of snowflakes like you,” the response from Mathis continued. “Thank you for letting us live rent-free in your head.”
The deeply-personal attack against Slater by Mathis continued, this time accusing him of a range of extreme opinions and behaviors he had not displayed, including fascism.
“The problem is your outlook/perspective on life and government,” Mathis continued. “Your cancel-culture fascism to force ‘political correctness’ because it might hurt your poor feelings, isn’t welcome. (sic)”
The taunting went on, with Mathis then accusing Slater of being overly concerned with the assembly member’s behavior and statements, before further insulting the constituent’s intelligence.
“Also we thank you for renting free space in your head, it appears we will be getting comfy here (sic),” the Mathis response continued. “But would you please turn the lights on upstairs?”
An earlier and broader insult against his perceived political enemies was posted on the page five days before the attack against Slater. In that post, the Mathis shared an image purporting to show a dramatic increase in the cost of gas, attributing the increase to the change in presidential administrations.
Facebook tagged the post as “missing context,” prompting many users to complain about Mathis sharing the item. The assembly member’s response was to blame those who responded.
“Latest news…Liberals can’t take the truth (sic),” the Mathis page responded, adding laughing emojis, as well as an insulting image from the TV show South Park.
GOP Leader Responds
Local Republican leader Rudy Mendoza–who ran unsuccessfully against Mathis for assembly in both 2014 and again in 2016–expressed little shock at Mathis’ online behavior.
“The voters shouldn’t be surprised at how Mr. Mathis communicates,” Mendoza said. “He’s been elected several times, and he’s always had a rough time with verbiage.”
While other local GOP leaders were reluctant to comment on the record, Mendoza said he hopes this kind of rhetoric is not the future of the Republican Party. The GOP, he says, should present a wide umbrella for all constituents.
“When you’re elected, you’re elected to respond to every person you were elected to represent, whether you agree with them or not,” he said. “Everyone had a different way of looking at things. You have to be able to see things the way other people look at them. I have to be able to respect you enough to be able to listen and understand what your issue is and respond.”
The harsh rhetoric frequently seen in current US political discussion was also recently condemned by two US Supreme Court justices from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor and conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch used a joint appearance during an event at George Mason University’s law school to condemn the lack of civility in political discussions.
“How can a democracy function if we can’t talk to one another and we can’t disagree kindly, with respect for one another’s differences and different points of view?” Gorsuch asked, according to reporting by the news agency Reuters.
Do Supporters Approve?
On the other hand, if members of his party don’t object, perhaps it represents a mandate for this kind of antisocial behavior, Mendoza says.
“Who’s it actually affecting?” he asked. “You and I may be a little upset, but obviously his supporters are OK with what he’s communicating and how he’s communicating.”
In the long run, Mendoza feels Mathis’ approach to speaking with constituents is not viable.
“That isn’t the future of how electeds respond, because as an employer, I can’t respond to my employees that way,” he said. “I certainly can’t ignore them. Why would I do that in politics?”
Regarding Mathis’ pending divorce, Mendoza expressed his support for the couple during a difficult time.
“Divorce is a personal matter, a very personal, private matter,” he said. “As someone who married his high school sweetheart 30 years ago, (marriage is) something that you have to work on. I will pray for Mr. Mathis and his family.”