Ortiz-Legg has 2, not 1, criminal convictions
October 2, 2016
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Assembly District 35 candidate Dawn Ortiz-Legg has been arrested and convicted twice, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court records show. Ortiz-Legg, who has attacked her opponent Jordan Cunningham for his criminal defense work, has opted to conceal her criminal record, or only partially divulge it, when asked about it publicly.
San Luis Obispo police arrested Ortiz-Legg for drunk driving in 2001, court records show. Then, in 2005, SLO County sheriff’s deputies arrested her for a marijuana offense. Ortiz-Legg pleaded guilty to one count of possession of marijuana under an ounce.
The court records contradict a claim that Ortiz-Legg made in a debate last month. They also call into question Ortiz-Legg’s attempts to paint her opponent as someone responsible for local crime, critics say.
During a recent debate on KPRL, Ortiz-Legg said she had never been convicted of a crime. She then backtracked and admitted to having a drunk driving offense in 2001. She made no mention, however, of her 2005 arrest and conviction.
“I don’t think I have been charged or convicted of a crime,” Ortiz-Legg said in response to a question from a KPRL caller. “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 thing where you learn, like wow, a couple of glasses of wine, a good thing I know now. Don’t let that happen again, so that’s it.”
Ortiz-Legg did not respond to a question about her marijuana arrest, nor did she respond when asked why she opted not to mention the drug offense during the debate.
Ortiz-Legg’s campaign and the California Democratic Party have launched fabricated attacks on Cunningham, a Republican. Cunningham previously worked as a SLO County prosecutor and now runs his own law practice.
The California Democratic Party sent out a slate mailer that describes Cunningham as a slick criminal defense lawyer who has defended hundreds of criminals.
To press its point, the mailer claimed that in 2012, Cunningham defended a man who attacked his girlfriend and threatened to kill her with a butcher knife. The mailer included a photo that appears to be a scan of a court document showing Cunningham was the attorney on the case.
“Jordan Cunningham got him a plea deal so he could get back on the street,” the mailer read.
However, the alleged court document was a fabrication.
Cunningham did not defend the man referenced in the mailer, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said.
Rather than acknowledging its fabrication effort, the state Democratic Party apologized for getting the year wrong. Cunningham recently defended the man from the 2012 case on a drug charge.
“We apologize if we did not include the correct dates for when Jordan Cunningham, as a criminal defense attorney, represented a man who attacked his girlfriend and threatened to kill her with a knife. He was certainly representing this brutal criminal by August 2015,” Chris Masami Myers, the executive director of the state Democratic Party said in a statement.
Myers went on to demand that Cunningham apologize to the public for defending the man.
Persons charged with crimes are entitled to counsel, according to the U.S. Constitution. That includes the man cited in the campaign mailer.
“We are not making claims about the Constitution, but the voters have a right to know about a candidate’s work history,” Myers said in response to a question about whether the state Democratic Party supports criminal defendants’ rights to legal representation.
Ortiz-Legg’s attacks on defense attorneys are more than a little hypocritical, Cunningham said.
“My opponent is lying again, probably to distract the voters from her own criminal history. It’s shameful. The Central Coast deserves better,” Cunningham said.