Ortiz-Legg discusses DUI, struggles during debate

September 23, 2016
Dawn Ortiz-Legg

Dawn Ortiz-Legg


Assembly candidate Dawn Ortiz-Legg didn’t charm North County voters Wednesday when she said she was happy to have experienced a DUI arrest or when she lashed out at her opponent Jordan Cunningham.

The candidates debated on conservative radio station KPRL and a couple of the questions came from pro-Cunningham callers. Ortiz-Legg struggled through much of the debate while Cunningham called her out for flip-flopping on an issue and for spouting misinformation about legal professionals.

Ortiz-Legg, a Democrat, and Cunningham, a Republican, are running for the 35th District Assembly seat. Ortiz-Legg is a solar energy consultant. Cunningham is a lawyer who previously worked as a San Luis Obispo County prosecutor and now runs his own law practice.

During the debate, a caller asked the candidates if either of them had ever been charged or convicted of a crime. Cunningham said he had not. Ortiz-Legg said she did not think she had been charged or convicted, but then went on to say she had a drunk driving offense and that she was really happy to have had the experience.

“I don’t think I have been charged or convicted of a crime,” Ortiz-Legg said. “Um, I did have a drunk driving offense back in 2001 that I am really happy that I had that experience because, you know, it was a type of a thing where you learn, like wow, a couple glasses of wine, a good thing I know now. Don’t let that happen again, so, that’s it.”

Another caller asked Ortiz-Legg if she would renounce her relationship and activities with the anti-war organization Code Pink.

“It’s for me again. Isn’t that a surprise?” Ortiz said and then started laughing after hearing the question from the caller.

Ortiz-Legg, who co-founded the local chapter of Code Pink, said she renounces the activities of the organization that are against veterans. The Democratic candidate also said she is married to a veteran, she has never participated in any activities against veterans and she was being portrayed as guilty by association.

Jordan Cunningham

Jordan Cunningham

Cunningham said the Code Pink issue is not guilt by association.

“Google search right now if you are near a computer. I would encourage all listeners. Google search Code Pink. Google search Dawn Ortiz Legg Code Pink,” Cunningham said. “She founded the local chapter of it. She drove to Bakersfield in 2005 and protested in front of a ceremony honoring high schoolers who had been admitted to military institutions.”

Cunningham also told listeners to read a CalCoastNews opinion piece Ortiz-Legg wrote in 2010 titled “Every war is a war against a child.”

“She wrote that we are guilty of war crimes in talking about criticizing the fact that we still had a military presence in Afghanistan fighting terrorists,” Cunningham said.

Ortiz-Legg said she has not been associated with Code Pink for more than 10 years, and the group is not anti-military.

Then, Ortiz-Legg went on the attack.

“I think it’s very important for the voters to know who they are electing. That’s right Jordan. It’s not what you say. It’s what you do,” Ortiz-Legg said. “And what you do everyday includes criminal, those charged with criminal offenses and those who have actually been charged and been released and done again. That’s all. All we’ve asked is to have your criminal records released, and that’s it.”

Cunningham responded by saying he does not have a criminal record.

Ortiz-Legg fired back demanding Cunningham release his clients’ criminal records.

Cunningham told Ortiz-Legg she was uniformed about what attorneys do and the rules they operate under.

“I do all sorts of legal work. All types of legal work,” Cunningham said. “And there is nothing again, Dawn, there is nothing inconsistent between defending people’s constitutional rights who are accused of a crime, like you apparently were, which you just told us — okay — defending people’s constitutional rights and being backed by law enforcement.”

According to the California State Bar, it is an attorney’s duty to not only defend their client, but to also protect their client’s confidentiality. State Bar rules prohibit Cunningham from complying with Ortiz-Legg’s demands.

Though much of the debate focused on the candidates’ characters, Ortiz-Legg and Cunningham did state their stances on several issues.

When asked about immigration, both candidates said they oppose sanctuary cities. But, immigrant labor is important for the agriculture industry, Ortiz-Legg said.

Cunningham asked Ortiz-Legg if she would support giving benefits, other than emergency medical care, to illegal immigrants. Ortiz-Legg said that is an ideological approach, and a legislator should determine rather what is the best return on investment for the taxpayers.

The candidates were also asked about their stances on the Bill of Rights, particularly the first and second amendments.

Cunningham said he supports all 10 of the constitutional amendments in the Bill of Rights, and he would defend Ortiz-Legg’s right to free speech even if he disagrees with what she says. The Republican candidate also said the focus of gun control should be about disarming felons, not regulating law-abiding gun owners.

Ortiz-Legg said she supports the Second Amendment.

“I think it says clearly on my website, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, period,” Ortiz-Legg said. “That’s all that needs to be said. I will fight for the Second Amendment. I understand it very well.”

On local issues, Ortiz-Legg said she supports Measure J, SLO County’s half-cent sales tax initiative that is supposed to raise funds for transportation projects.

Ortiz-Legg said she opposes Phillips 66’s proposed rail spur in Nipomo, even though she previously wrote a letter to the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission supporting the project. Ortiz-Legg said the Phillips 66 refinery is a safe facility that produces some of the cleanest fuel in the world, but there is not currently safe infrastructure on which to transport the crude.

Cunningham said he believes oil is needed as a source of energy, but he thinks the Phillips 66 project should be decided at the local, not state, level. He also said he thinks oil is optimally transported by pipeline.

As Del Campo wrapped up the broadcast, Ortiz-Legg asked, “Aren’t we fun?”

“You guys are fun,” Del Campo said.

In the primary election, Ortiz-Legg placed first with 44.9 percent of the vote. Cunningham received 37.3 percent. However, Ortiz-Legg was the only Democrat in the primary race, and Cunningham was one of two Republicans. The 35th District includes all of San Luis Obispo County and much of northern Santa Barbara County.

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On the one hand, you have a typical frothing progressive – the kind usually found leeching off the academic welfare system. You know how wacky she is up front, very little surprises forth-coming.

On the other hand, you have a lawyer, which goes against one of my biggest rules for voting: avoid lawyers and academics. You don’t know how wacky he is going to become, as a lawyer, he’s probably good at hiding agendas and back-room deals.

Do we not get any other choice than this? I mean, I suppose lawyer is slightly less offensive to elect to public office than progressive ideologue, but not by much… It’s like a mini Hillary vs. Trump race in our own backyard!

I’m voting for Jordan three times after that funfest.

Lawyer vs politician smackdown and we all lose no matter the outcome.

I cannot believe how down-voted this comment is (-6 prior to my reply to it). It is spot-on. We are given very limited choices (as if there’s no choice at all in the bigger picture) when voting at the State level or National level. We have usually been given two lousy candidates for years, and we are worse off now than before, hence “we all lose no matter the outcome.”

Very well said.

Ironically, many would like better candidates, but in the end we reject them because we have been conditioned to accept people like these two (Cunningham & Ortiz-Legg). Heck, if you don’t believe me, look at our choices for president. Is that not clear enough? Now, I can’t fault democrats on this, they don’t usually care who their candidate is, all they want is a (D) in office, never seeing beyond that. It’s a sporting event, and as long as (D) wins, that’s all that matters.

The republicans used to believe in the people they put up (good or bad, as it was); now, I am fully convinced they are the same “party” as the democrats, and that is: the Political Party. How many non-politicos were offered up during their primary only to be shot down. Is Carly Fiorina or Dr. Ben Carson really that much WORSE than Donald Trump? Really? How did that happen? Answer: we are CONDITIONED to accept only popularity or cult of personality as a viable trait in a candidate. This is also why I believe Hillary will lose (yes, I do not like her as a candidate, but she is very unpopular and has ZERO cult of personality, like Obama did – that’s ALL he had, that and racism).

So republicans were given several very decent, non-political, non-insider candidates, and they picked Trump. Tell me popularity is not over-riding common sense. If the democrat party could ever manage to field a single, decent candidate (let alone several) we’d see the same thing. Almost saw it with their paper tiger offering in Sanders (he had cult of personality). The democrats resorted to their #1 rule: cheat. Without massive rigging of their internal system, Hillary would not have made it out of their primary. You know that is true.

So either democrat or republican, we the people are offered the least-qualified, least-appealing candidates to choose from. This local race is only a reflection of the greater whole.

Here’s a thought Roy. Vote for the person, not the party.

To top it off, Ortiz-Legg is a Code Pink wacko.

Wacko? That’s a little uncalled for, right?

Code pink, Team Adam Hill, best buds with Maria Kelly, both with good solar jobs (remember team Adam Hill?), one of the instigators that had K Velie kicked from KVEC (previous management), but wacko? No.

Don’t take my word for it, ask her. I did.

I heard most of the debate and it was an eye opener. It showed that Ms. Ortiz-Legg is willing to throw away anything she once feels passionate about if it got in the way of her ambitions.

1 – She founded Code Pink in SLO and drove around protesting, even to high schools in Bakersfield, but now doesn’t agree with them.

2 – She was so much for the rail spur she wrote a letter of support to the planning commission. Now she opposes it.

Add to that her bizarre answer on the DUI, her nonsensical demand that a lawyer reveal confidential client information, her insistence that a defense attorney is responsible for the actions of his clients and her vague, platitude-filled answers to serious questions and I actually felt sorry for her as Cunningham was destroying her in the debate. She sounded quite pathetic at several points during the interview. Poor dear.

Yep, one choice for me.

Well at least she is trying to be a politician but hasn’t really mastered speaking out of both sides of her mouth.

Ms. Ortiz-Legg is so misinformed it’s almost funny except for the fact that the Democratic Part is pouring thousands of dollars into her campaign so that they will have another puppet. I’ll have to say that she may be the first person that I have ever heard that getting arrested was a happy experience. Her support for Measure J tells us all what she is about, more taxes and fees. Being a veteran and an American as soon as I had heard about her connection with Code Pink I really had to go no further, that almost puts her in the same category Jane Fonda.

Happy she experienced a DUI, “Like WOW” Dawn is that for real.

You want to represent us and you don’t even understand attorney – client privilege.

Everyone in this country is entitled to representation, if some one gets of that shouldn’t then the system is failed and the accuser was lucky to get a good lawyer.

Thank you Jordan for running for office, you have our trust & OUR VOTES

Scary to think someone think Dawn has such little knowledge of the law & wants to represent our counties interests.

Ortiz by her own mouth is lost and out of her element… kind of reminds me of Palin with her finger on the red launch button without understanding why. It’s amazing how some people running for office can even reach such a level of incompetence and still attempt to represent the people. As such, one has to question who is supporting her and what underlying reasons are at play.

I neither care for Jordon, but if he can hold his own at the podium and respond with common sense and not get flustered, I would prefer him to represent our interests. Very likely, he’s no puppet and by extension should not be antagonized by special interest groups, which is to our benefit, and possibly why there is an unusual amount of support $$$ for Ortiz.

No brainer. Jordan gets my vote.

Mr. Cunningham gets my vote!

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