As he asks voters to make him Pennsylvania’s next lieutenant governor, Teddy Daniels has promoted himself as an Army combat veteran, a former police officer, and a successful businessman. He also, perhaps above all, wants them to know that he stands with Donald Trump. Daniels’ support for the former president has included promoting conspiracy theories about the last election and posting video from the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
What Daniels is not advertising is that, according to court documents, his personal history includes domestic-abuse allegations, and the law-enforcement career that he’s made a cornerstone of his campaign has multiple major blemishes. Daniels’ ex-wife claimed in court that he was “physically and mentally abusive” during their marriage and later harassed her at her workplace, and both she and another woman have accused him of being negligent in paying child support. Court records reveal that during his career as an officer he was the subject of an “internal affairs investigation” that concluded he had engaged in “unbecoming conduct” by “providing deceptive information to an investigator” and “using official state record for personal reasons.” Local newspaper accounts also indicate that Daniels was suspended and ultimately agreed to separate from a different police department in 2010.
Daniels’ political views are extreme, particularly his adherence to Trump’s lie that he won the 2020 election and his pledge to revamp an election system in the name of that falsehood. “I can promise the people of Pennsylvania this, when we get in in ‘22, we are going to revamp the entire system for when Trump runs in ‘24. That’s what needs to happen,” Daniels declared in a recent interview on a right-wing podcast. “That gives us two years to fix … the sham election system that they have set in place.”
But in the modern Republican Party, extreme does not mean fringe. Within the past year, Daniels has scored prime-time appearances on Fox News and a personal meeting with Trump. As he runs for lieutenant governor, Daniels has the support of Doug Mastriano, a MAGA-minded legislator and gubernatorial candidate who’s a close second in early primary polling. The primary is in May, and as voters weigh whether to nominate Daniels to be the number-two official in the country’s fifth most-populous state, his personal history merits a close review.
Daniels declined an interview request from Rolling Stone and declined to answer a string of written questions about the specific allegations detailed in the court documents, his view of the 2020 election, and his activities on Jan. 6. Instead, he sent Rolling Stone a short statement: “Given that the Liberal rag Rolling Stone idolizes the Boston bomber, it is no surprise they’d grasp at non existent straws in printing FALSE, and MALICIOUS ALLEGATIONS to try to defame a wounded combat veteran, decorated police officer, and leading candidate in Pennsylvania just like they did to Donald Trump with the Russia Hoax and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.”
In November 2000, Daniels married a woman in Maryland whose identity Rolling Stone is withholding. The pair had a child together in April 2002, and separated roughly three months later. That separation was the beginning of a contentious, decade-long-plus legal saga as the pair argued over child support and visitation, according to the court records reviewed by Rolling Stone.
As their court fight dragged on, in 2013, the ex-wife asked the district court of Maryland for an order of protection citing alleged “domestic violence.” In written statements accompanying the petition, Daniels’ ex-wife claimed he was “physically and mentally abusive during marriage” and that he “pushed, kicked, and hit” her, including an incident where he allegedly “kicked in” a door and left her forearm “bruised.” The court denied the petition and said she “could not meet the required burden of proof” about the alleged physical abuse a decade earlier. The ex-wife did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
However, the ex-wife’s petition for protection documented allegations of Daniels harassing her in 2013 by contacting the hospital where she worked to accuse her of violating a “court order.” The petition included messages Daniels purportedly wrote to a general email address for the president of the hospital to demand his ex-wife’s contact information. “Could you please forward me her office number? I am filing papers next week for her to be served by the Sheriff at work since I have no other contact info,” Daniels wrote. “I do not wish her or the hospital any public embarrassment and hopefully with her office line, things can be worked out before things are brought into the public eye.”
The petition included a follow up email from the hospital’s director of security, who “strongly urge[d]” Daniels not to “continue to harass” his ex-wife “at her place of employment.”
The publicly accessible court records reviewed by Rolling Stone did not contain any response from Daniels and his attorneys to this alleged workplace harassment. In other court documents, Daniels repeatedly suggested his motivation in his dealings with his ex-wife was to see his child. Lawyers who represented Daniels and his ex-wife did not respond to requests for comment.
Daniels’ legal battle with his ex-wife was not his first. In 1999, Daniels sued a woman he’d had a child with in 1996 to get custody and visitation rights and work out child support. During the subsequent legal battle, the woman’s lawyer accused Daniels of having previously “engaged in conduct which has been threatening” to the woman and made her feel “justifiably unsafe.” The presiding court official rebuffed that line of argument, saying that the woman had previously agreed in a consent order to Daniels visiting their child. The woman, whose name Rolling Stone is withholding, could not be reached for comment. Her attorney declined to comment and said they had no recollection of the case from two decades ago.
In both the cases involving his ex-wife and the other woman, Daniels was accused of failing to keep up with child support, the court documents reveal. Court records confirm that Daniels was in “arrears” with child support to his ex-wife in 2002 and 2006. In court documents from 2009, Daniels’ ex-wife described him as “a chronic offender of continuous failed payments” for child support. Daniels’ lawyers contested this claim. Court documents in the legal fight between Daniels and the woman he had a child with in 1996 reveal he was in arrears on his child support to that woman during 2000 and 2001.
Daniels’ police experience is a central part of his campaign. His website boasts that he “was awarded the accolade of Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2002.” Daniels declined to answer inquiries about the specifics of the award, including question about where it was presented and by whom.
Court records and newspaper articles suggest Daniels ran into professional trouble at multiple police departments during his law-enforcement career. Daniels’ ex-wife provided the court with a pair of documents indicating he was disciplined for “unbecoming conduct by providing deceptive information to an investigator” and “abuse” of “state record for personal reasons” in 1999 while he was an officer with the police department in Bel Air, Maryland. The court records, which the ex-wife included in her request for the order of protection, did not provide further detail about the alleged violations or include a response to the accusations from Daniels and his attorneys. Daniels did not address specific questions about the allegations from Rolling Stone.
According to the materials Daniels’ ex-wife provided to the court, he received a “letter of reprimand” from Bel Air Police Chief Leo Matrangola in December 1999. “Improper behavior is a matter of habit,” Matrangola wrote to Daniels. “I would like you to understand that any future misuse of police information or untruthfulness will be considered grounds for termination.” A representative for the Bel Air Police Department did not respond to a request for comment. Matrangola passed away in 2015.
In the 2009 court document in which his ex-wife accused Daniels of failing to provide child support, she also alleged he was once “FIRED within 6 months” of taking a job with the police force in Douglass Township, Pennsylvania. The records do not reflect whether Daniels and his attorney responded to that allegation. Daniels did not respond to specific questions about the alleged firing. The chief of the Douglass Township Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Daniels also had issues at another police job, this time with the department in Minersville, Pennsylvania. According to a November, 2010 report in a local paper, Daniels was suspended from that department over unspecified allegations in August of that year. The suspension was extended after a confidential hearing, and again following a subsequent session of the town council. Daniels left the department via a separation agreement that the council approved that November.
“The allegations that led to the suspension were not made public,” the local Pottsville Republican Herald reported, adding: “The details of the agreement are being kept confidential by the council at Daniels’ request.” Daniels did not respond to specific questions about his reported suspension from the police department in Minersville. The town’s current police chief did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Along with his law-enforcement and military credentials, Daniels has built his political career around support for Trump. He first ran for Congress in 2020, but he lost a crowded, contested primary. He started running for Congress again in 2022, but he instead jumped into the lieutenant governor’s race last month. Daniels announced the lieutenant-governor campaign after Mastriano, the gubernatorial candidate running with Daniels’ support, launched his bid for governor.
Mastriano was subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Tuesday, due to his alleged involvement in a plan to put forward a slate of “alternate electors” to overturn Trump’s loss and public statements indicating he was “present during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.” He and Daniels are part of a wave of GOP candidates who seem to have attended the protests against Trump’s election loss that turned violent on Jan. 6, 2021. As the U.S. Capitol was attacked that day, Daniels seemed to be front and center. He posted a video showing crowds swarming the building that appeared to be shot from the east front steps, well inside the barricades that were set up that day.
“I am here,” he wrote. “God bless our patriots.”
I am here. God bless our patriots. pic.twitter.com/RBqNoQkyC2
— Teddy Daniels PA (@TeddyForPA) January 6, 2021
And Daniels has made support for the broader effort to challenge Trump’s loss — and opposition to the investigation of the attack on the Capitol — part of his campaign. In addition to questioning Trump’s defeat and suggesting he would change voting systems to guarantee future Republican victory, Daniels appeared on One America News Network last year, where he said the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 “has to stop immediately.”
Daniels also apparently objects to investigations into his own past. In January, after he became aware of the reporting for this story, he posted a video to Facebook, claiming the article was a set up by either the “liberal left” or the “establishment right” because he had “upset the powers to be at a very, very, very high level.”
“Rolling Stone magazine with their unlimited budget is now preparing, researching, and writing to do a hit piece on me,” he declared in the video, seated beneath an assault rifle and a photo of him with Trump. “Who put them up to it? I can tell you this, there’s only two entities out there that hate the America First agenda, and it’s the establishment right and the liberal left.”
“Every shit rag liberal paper in the country has come after me,” Daniels said. “I survived combat. Nothing that these man bun wearing purple-haired sissies can do to me can hurt me.”
In the video, Daniels urged Rolling Stone to “come get some.”
“All right shitbag, I know your deal. What do you got? Let’s sit down. Let’s meet, and go ahead and write,” Daniels said. “Rolling Stone, you know how to contact me. … I dare you to try that strong-arm shit with me, because we will meet in person, and it won’t be a good meeting. I promise you that.”