‘This is serious enough that I’d like to see him resign’
The Citrus Heights City Council voted to publicly censure councilman Bret Daniels during a special meeting Thursday, with the city’s vice mayor following the decision by calling for his resignation from the board.
“That ain't gunna happen,” Daniels replied to Vice Mayor Jeannie Bruins’ comment Thursday.
Their motivation for the public censure, which passed 4 to 1, centered on reports made to the city’s Police Department in 2008 and 2017, in which Daniels was accused of stalking a former girlfriend from high school in both instances, according to the meeting’s agenda.
Though subsequent investigations into the allegations concluded Daniels’ actions did not rise to criminal wrongdoing, the City Council said his behavior does not properly represent their city.
“It’s embarrassing, to be honest with you” said councilman Jeff Slowey. “It’s just too bad that it’s gotten this far and that some people can’t take responsibility for their actions.”
During the meeting, Daniels read from a prepared statement, in which he detailed his interactions with the woman he dated in high school.
“It would be a shame if this council feels that they have to censure me for something that isn’t true,”he said before the vote. “For something that, if it was true, was not part of my council duties ... or part of my council functions. It’s a private matter.”
The Citrus Heights council made the decision two days after initial polling results put Daniels, a candidate for Sacramento County sheriff, fourth in the race.
Councilman Albert Fox said the council waited to bring the resolution to the public until after the primary elections, because they did not want it to appear like they were interfering with the local race.
The allegations are not the first levied against the former sheriff’s deputy.
Daniels was fired from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department in 2000 after the department claimed he lied about an incident in which he asked a campus police officer to help him find a female acquaintance living in Tucson, Arizona. He said he didn’t realize it was illegal to use classified information to find the woman, a 2006 Sacramento Bee article said.
The most recent incident was initially investigated by Citrus Heights Police Department at the behest of Police Chief Ronald Lawrence in September 2017, redacted police records obtained by The Bee show.
Lawrence, who was at Thursday’s meeting, told the investigating officer, Lt. Alex Turcotte, to look into Daniels after the councilman asked him if the department was looking into a harassment claim from a woman he had emailed on Aug. 29.
The woman indicated to Daniels that she was upset by the email and that she would report the incident to police. Lawrence told Daniels he was not aware of the incident but that it would be inappropriate to talk to him about the incident if an investigation did exist, the records showed.
“Chief Lawrence became concerned that (redacted) may be a victim of harassment by a public official,” Turcotte said in the police report. “He asked that I contact (redacted) and ensure she had been offered the appropriate resources and services for her issues and determine if any crime had occurred.”
Turcotte contacted the woman, who explained she had dated Daniels in high school. Daniels continued to try to stay in touch with her over the years, even after she repeatedly told him not to contact her, according to the police report.
The case was eventually forwarded to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office after the woman said she was “not certain she could trust the department to remain objective” given Daniels’ position as a city councilman.
Shelly Orio, a District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman, said the office found Daniels did not commit any criminal acts in the 2017 incident.
The woman also reported the same incident to the Roseville Police Department, which came to the same conclusion, said Rob Baquera, a department spokesman.
“We took a services report from the female and our officers determined that a crime did not take place,” Baquera said.
Daniels read the August email during the meeting, in which he said he told the woman he was expecting more grandchildren, updated her about a son who was headed to college and asked if she was a grandmother.
A second police report obtained by The Bee outlines a similar incident from 2008, in which the Citrus Heights Police Department investigated reports of Daniels stalking a woman he dated in high school.
Daniels reportedly approached a man in front of a home and demanded to know where the woman was. The same day, the officer investigating the report talked to the woman involved and she told the officer she used to date Daniels while she was in high school.
Daniels continued to ask about her when running into common acquaintances, and told them “dating her was the best time of his life,” according to the police report. She described feeling uncomfortable about Daniels’ behavior.
The same report also describes a separate interaction 10 days earlier between Daniels and another person who appeared to know the woman who previously dated Daniels.
He asked the person questions about the woman that the person described as “invasive,” and when the person asked Daniels what his names was, he insisted she not tell the woman, according to the police report.
Citrus Heights police Lt. Dave Gutierrez said officers determined those incidents did not rise to the level of criminality.
In this case, Daniels said the incident with the man involved the woman’s husband. The two ran into each other near the woman’s mother’s home while Daniels was canvassing the area with his son and a volunteer, who lived a block away.
Daniels said during the meeting that the husband confronted him in an angry manner, identified himself as the woman’s spouse and then told him to leave the property.
“I remember telling him that he was delusional if he thought I had any continuing feelings (for the woman),” Daniels said.
The City Council became aware of the incidents in mid-May after the city received a Public Records Act request asking for information regarding Daniels’ conduct in recent years, according to the council's agenda.
Daniels said he was never contacted about the allegations by any of the three law enforcement agencies involved.