Marcia Fudge once wrote letter of support for man now accused of murder

Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Extremists find home on Telegram app | Warren blasts Facebook for not removing anti-Biden ad | California outlaws facial recognition in police body cameras | China rips US tech sanctions House Democrats introduce new legislation to combat foreign election interference Harris wins endorsement of former CBC Chairwoman Marcia Fudge MORE, the Ohio Democrat mulling a challenge to Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says Trump sanctions package on Turkey 'falls very short' Graham throws support behind Trump's Turkey sanctions Feehery: Trump may be down, but he's not out yet MORE (D-Calif.) for Speaker, once wrote a letter in support of a friend and former judge after he severely beat his wife in 2014.

That former Cuyahoga County judge, Lance Mason, has now been arrested and accused of fatally stabbing his ex-wife.

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Fudge’s defense of a domestic violence abuser has thrown a wrench into her potential bid for Speaker, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement and following a historic midterm election that saw dozens of Democratic women swept into office.

In a statement Tuesday, Fudge condemned last weekend's brutal murder of Aisha Fraser and explained that her earlier support of Mason was based on what she knew of him over a three-decade friendship. He had a distinguished professional career as a prosecutor, state lawmaker and judge.

“My heart breaks for Aisha Fraser. I pray for Aisha’s family, especially her children, as they attempt to deal with this tragedy,” Fudge said. “My support of Lance in 2015 was based on the person I knew for almost 30 years. The person who committed these crimes is not the Lance Mason familiar to me. They were horrific crimes, and I condemn them. I and everyone who knew Aisha are mourning her loss.”

Mason was arrested in 2014 after he punched his then-wife 20 times and slammed her head into a car dashboard, requiring her to have reconstructive surgery, according to news reports.

A year later, just before Mason was about to be sentenced for assault and domestic violence, Fudge and other highly respected politicians and judges sent letters to the court attesting to his character while condemning the violence. He was sentenced to two years in jail but served only nine months.

“Lance accepts full responsibility for his actions and has assured me that something like this will never happen again,” Fudge wrote to Judge Patricia Cosgrove in 2015. “Lance Mason is a good man who made a very bad mistake. I can only hope that you see in Lance what I and others see.”

It’s unclear how this latest episode might affect Fudge’s leadership aspirations. Anti-Pelosi insurgents — led by Reps. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John Ryan2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the October showdown 2020 Presidential Candidates Democrats decry Trump's push to slash number of accepted refugees MORE (D-Ohio) and Seth MoultonSeth Moulton2020 Presidential Candidates Rep. Joe Kennedy has history on his side in Senate bid Mass shootings have hit 158 House districts so far this year MORE (D-Mass.) — have been trying to persuade Fudge, a former Ohio mayor and previous head of the Congressional Black Caucus, to challenge Pelosi for the Speaker’s gavel.

Fudge hasn’t ruled it out, telling reporters she will decide after Thanksgiving whether to challenge the minority leader in the party's internal election for Speaker. A House floor vote for Speaker is scheduled for early January.