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Ad Watch: Flier hits Barbara Ortega for 17-year-old arrest

Published: Wednesday, May. 30, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Wednesday, May. 30, 2012 - 8:02 am

Republican Assembly candidate Barbara Ortega was blasted in a campaign flier last week for reckless behavior resulting in arrest for "driving under the influence and battery of a peace officer."

The flier was bankrolled by Defending the Republic, an advocacy group opposing Ortega in the 8th Assembly District.

Ortega is running in the primary against fellow Republicans Peter Tateishi, John Thomas Flynn and Phillip Tufi as well as Democrat Ken Cooley and Libertarian Janice Bonser in a Sacramento County district stretching from Citrus Heights to south of Wilton.

"Arrested near the Capitol on a Tuesday afternoon for driving under the influence and battery of a peace officer, former lobbyist Barbara Ortega was acting recklessly," the flier said.

"If she's this reckless two blocks from the state Capitol, why would we elect her to serve inside it?"

The flier reproduces a portion of a county document listing three charges against Ortega: driving under the influence, driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08, and battery against a peace officer.

"Whether it's peddling influence, or driving under the influence, Barbara Ortega doesn't need the keys to the state Assembly," the flier said.

The following is an analysis by The Bee's Jim Sanders:

The ad is correct that Ortega was involved in an August 1995 incident near 11th and K streets in Sacramento that led to police charging her with the three misdemeanors.

One charge later was dismissed, however, and the two others were reduced in court.

Ortega, a former lobbyist who now owns a consulting firm, pleaded no contest in October 1995 to lesser charges of reckless driving involving alcohol and to resisting, delaying or obstructing a police officer.

The District Attorney's Office filed documents with the court explaining that Ortega was not prosecuted for drunken driving because the charge might not be provable.

Because the case is 17 years old, the police report was not readily accessible Tuesday.

Ortega said she had argued with a bicycle police officer who told her to move her car, which was parked beside a Capitol-area restaurant while she loaded it with raffle prizes for a charity event. She had consumed a glass of wine at lunch, but was not impaired and was sitting in her car, not driving it, when the officer arrived, Ortega said.

Court records show that Ortega ultimately paid a fine of about $240 and served five days in a sheriff's work program, with credit for one day spent in county custody.

Ortega's Department of Motor Vehicles record is clean, meaning that she has committed no traffic violations in three years or more.

Defending the Republic spent about $36,500 for the flier. Its donors include Stockton/Lodi Food 4 Less, the California Grocers Association, California Medical Association, Jobs Political Action Committee and the Small Business Action Committee.

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Read more articles by Jim Sanders

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