This week, the Democratic Party of Georgia released information to the media detailing how Shepherd was arrested on a domestic violence charge in 2000, stemming from a relationship with his former fiancee. The case was eventually dismissed and all charges against him were dropped.
Shepherd was arrested under his legal name at the time, Jason Goldfarb. A native of Broward County, Fla., Shepherd, 34, said Goldfarb is his father's last name. His parents divorced in 1988, and his mother changed her name back to Shepherd, enrolling him in school by that name as well. In 2003, shortly before he married a different woman, he legally changed his name from Goldfarb to Shepherd, he said.
On Tuesday, Shepherd took aim at a website called "Blog for Democracy," which describes itself as a group blog that launched in 2004 to cover "progressive" politics in Georgia. In a Monday comment on that blog by Melanie Goux, who serves on the board of The Fulton County Arts Council, Goux remarks on how long it took Shepherd to change his name and also comments on Shepherd's wife, Manuela, a native of Germany.
Writes Goux: "This means for almost 20 years, Jason went about daily life under an assumed (anglo sounding) surname, until Mr. Goldfarb was ready to marry his mail order bride. Given his history, someone should probably check on Mrs. Shepherd."
In a letter sent Tuesday to Goux, Shepherd's Marietta attorney Steven Ellis called the blog libelous for "imputing that Mr. Shepherd is currently committing physical violence against his wife."
"This imputation is completely false," the letter states. "Falsely implying Mr. Shepherd is committing a crime is sufficient to prove Libel Per Se under standards set forth in Georgia case law.
"Furthermore your statement concerning Mrs. Shepherd being a 'mail order bride' constitutes both the tort of invasion of privacy by publicity which places one in a false light in the public eye and Libel Per Se. Mrs. Shepherd is not, nor ever was, a mail order bride as you claim," Ellis writes.
Ellis is demanding an immediate retraction of both statements to be posted on the Blog for Democracy site "or suit will be filed against you."
Shepherd, who describes the Web site as "the Democrat Party's mouthpiece blogsite," said it goes to show that the Democrat Party and its operatives will try to win at any cost, regardless of who they defame.
"As a candidate for office, I expect cheap shots, but as a husband, I am going to stand up for my wife," he said.
Shepherd is not just asking for a retraction from Goux. He also expects an apology from Jane Kidd, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia and his opponent, Terry Johnson.
"While they may not have written the statement, it's their slash and burn style of politics that has created the environment for it," he said.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Goux, who describes herself as a political blogger and Atlanta resident who was among those who helped start up the Blog for Democracy site, said she hasn't received any communication from Shepherd's campaign.
"My only response is, I think this is just being used as a fundraising ploy to help what appears to be a failing campaign," she said.
As for whether she will write a retraction, Goux said that remains to be seen.
"If that's what he's demanding, he can call me directly," she said.
And as for an apology from the Democratic Party of Georgia, the group released the following statement: "Mr. Shepherd sent out a press release today demanding apologies instead of explaining the circumstances behind his arrest for simple battery with physical harm. No one should apologize for pointing out that violence against women is unacceptable."