Doug Pettibone, Mayor Tom Tait’s neighbor whom he personally recruited to run for Anaheim City Council, has withdrawn his candidacy after it surfaced the he had pleaded guilty to an assault charge stemming from a domestic abuse incident in the late 1990s.
Pettibone announced his withdrawal earlier this afternoon in an e-mail to Anaheim City Clerk Linda Andal and copying all the other mayoral and council candidates, stating:
“Last night, for the first time, it was brought to my attention that certain matters that occurred during this custody proceeding sixteen (16) years ago will become public and will be used against myself and perhaps even the Mayor to attack our candidacies.
Please allow me to be frank. I have done some things and said something involved in that custody dispute which I am not proud of but which did occur and which I take full responsibility for. For some reason I believed these records were private and perhaps I was overly hopeful that these issues were so far back in time that they would not or even could not be used against me.”
I never dreamed they could have been used against the Mayor. In fact I did not even believe these records were made available to the public. Had I known these issues, which occurred sixteen (16) years ago, could and would be used against me in this campaign I would have disclosed them to the Mayor upfront before he made the decision to endorse my candidacy.”
The entire withdrawal statement can be read here.
The withdrawal was precipitated by a letter sent to Mayor Tait yesterday evening by Anaheim resident Lisa Lewis:
As an Anaheim voter, as a wife and mother, and as a woman, I would like to bring to your attention to a very serious matter regarding Doug Pettibone, your neighbor down the street whom you personally recruited to run for Anaheim City Council.
In June of 1998, Mr. Pettibone was charged with four misdemeanor counts of battery, battery against a spouse, assault and harassment, stemming from an apparently volatile, hostile domestic violence situation with his first wife. In January 1999, he pled guilty to assault, stemming from this domestic violence incident, which is “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”
Mr. Pettibone is your neighbor and you personally recruited him to run for our city council, but I don’t know if you are or were aware of his pleading of guilty to an assault. If you were, I would like to know why you decided to ask Anaheim voters like myself to support him for city council. If you were not aware of Pettibone’s pleading guilty to an assault, I would like to know how you are going to respond now that you have been made aware of it.
Recent media attention on professional football player Ray Rice’s physical abuse of his wife has sparked renewed public attention on the issues of domestic violence and spousal abuse. My passion on this issue rooted in my personal experience: I suffered abuse at the hands of my former husband. It is one of the reasons I volunteer at the Family Justice Center in Anaheim. The humiliation, isolation and soul-killing awfulness of living in fear of one’s husband is something I would not wish on anyone.
Spousal abuse is a serious issue. One in four women will be victims of violence from a spouse or boyfriend. Seven million children live in families where spousal abuse has occurred. It is one of the leading causes of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. Over 70% of women injured in domestic violence cases are so victimized after separation from their spouses. Spousal abuse isn’t rare. It is something of which our daughters, sisters, mothers and friends are victims of each day.
This October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Now that you have been made aware of your running mate Mr. Pettibone’s pleading guilty to an assault out of a domestic violence incident, you owe your constituents an explanation as to whether you will continue to vouch for Mr. Pettibone’s fitness to serve on city council and urge your fellow Anaheim citizens to vote for him. Since taking office, you have made “Kindness” the centerpiece of your mayorship. Domestic violence, spousal abuse, acts and threats of physical and emotional abuse; these are the opposite of kindness. What kind of message does it send to the women of Anaheim if on one hand our mayor preaches for us to be kind to each other, while on the other hand asks us to vote for a man who has pled guilty to assaulting his wife?
Anaheim voters like myself deserve your swift response. Thank you.
According to Ms. Lewis, the mayor replied to her this morning in an e-mail saying he was “unaware of the assertions that you present in your letter,” and took them “very seriously” and “would look into this immediately.” She has not heard from the mayor since then, although Pettibone announced his withdrawal this afternoon.
According to TheLiberalOC.com, which broke the story, former Tait campaign volunteer Stephanie Stietler claims the Tait campaign has known for two weeks.
Obviously, not a good day for Pettibone or the Tait Slate, which has been cut in half to only James Vanderbilt. Pettibone was the weaker of the two candidates. He’d only entered the race two months ago, had no previous involvement in Anaheim civic affairs and zero name ID. It would have taken several hundred thousand (from Team Tait as well as independent expenditures) him to have a chance of defeating an incumbent councilmember. Judging by the campaign finance reports being filed, Mayor Tait is doing all the fundraising for his slate, and even that is nowhere near enough.
That still leaves left-wing Democrat Jose Moreno as a de facto second member of the Team Tait. Moreno has endorsed Tait for mayor and they share many of the same stances, as well as volunteers (who no longer have to volunteer their time supporting three candidates for two council seats). Some local politicos are speculating the mayor will now openly endorse Moreno, although I find that highly unlikely. Even if Tait were so inclined personally, practically speaking Mayor Tait will certainly recruit two council candidates in 2016 and will seek their endorsement by the OC Republican Party – and openly endorsing a left-wing Democrat’s campaign to knock out incumbent Republicans would complicate securing such an endorsement.