Former Florida Rep. Jackie Toledo drops lawsuit against ex-campaign manager

Toldeo had claimed Fred Piccolo, a Republican consultant, sent her unwanted text messages when he managed her camaign.
Then-Rep. Jackie Toledo speaks during a legislative hearing in January 2022 in Tallahassee.
Then-Rep. Jackie Toledo speaks during a legislative hearing in January 2022 in Tallahassee. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]
Published April 24, 2023|Updated April 24, 2023

TAMPA — Former state Rep. Jackie Toledo has ended the lawsuit she filed last year against her ex-campaign manager, which alleged he sent her unwanted explicit text messages.

Dale Swope, an attorney for Toledo, filed a notice of voluntary dismissal Friday in the case against Fred Piccolo, a prominent Republican communications strategist.

“The parties are pleased to report that they’ve resolved their differences,” Swope said. He declined to comment further.

Toledo’s lawsuit alleged that Piccolo sent her “unwanted, unsolicited, inappropriate and grossly offensive” text messages when he managed Toledo’s unsuccessful bid last year for the Republican nomination for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. Her lawsuit also accused him of trying to get fired to collect a $100,000 termination payout.

Piccolo’s attorney, Drew K. Patterson of Palm Harbor, characterized the lawsuit in a statement Monday as “frivolous” and politically motivated.

Fred Piccolo
Fred Piccolo [ Twitter ]

“Our client wanted his day in court,” Patterson said. “But he has no desire to harm Ms. Toledo and discovery (the legal evidence-sharing process) would have been difficult on Ms. Toledo and her family.”

The lawyer went on to say that Toledo’s lawsuit was “an attempt to cover for a failed congressional campaign and drag Mr. Piccolo down with her.”

After the lawsuit was filed, Piccolo told the Tampa Bay Times he considered Toledo a friend and characterized their communications as friendly banter, saying Toledo didn’t voice any offense.

“I’m extremely excited to have my name cleared and get back to work,” he said in a statement issued Monday through his attorney. “Through it all I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and love of family and friends who have stood by my side. I wish Ms. Toledo peace and although I’ve not been asked, I forgive those who failed in their attempt to use this lawsuit to hurt me and my family.”

Patterson and attorney Robert Eckard in January asked a judge to dismiss the case, calling Toledo’s complaint “duplicitous.” They argued that the allegations were insufficient for there to be a claim for damages.

Toledo’s dismissal was made “with prejudice,” which means the lawsuit cannot be refiled. It notes that each party will bear their own legal fees and costs.