Introducing Officials Gone Wild: A Blotter of Local Leaders Behaving Badly

It's hard to keep up with all the minor political scandals out there. Let us help you with this weekly list.

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Vilhelm Pedersen

Beating their kids, lying to score big bank loans, getting arrested for bar brawls... local politicians can be just like us! So much so, in fact, that it can be hard some weeks to keep up with all their scandals. Is it the grossly inflated sense of entitlement that steers baby-kissers toward such knuckleheaded behavior? Maybe the feeling they're smarter than normal and can outmaneuver everybody?

Who knows! We're not psychiatrists over here; we just like reading about the careers of local politicians dying in monumental flameouts. With that in mind, welcome to the inaugural post in a series devoted to the crimes, errors in judgment and everyday embarrassments perpetrated by our esteemed municipal leaders. Enjoy!

CALIFORNIA

Anthony Sanchez recently resigned his government job after a neighbor filmed him viciously attacking his stepson because he wasn't playing "catch" right. Sanchez's neighbor filmed him over the fence in his backyard in El Centro, about 100 miles inland near the border of Mexico, where the older man got in the boy's face and lashed him several times with a belt. Somehow, that didn't appear to make the boy any better at handling a baseball. Police arrested Sanchez after watching the video, and he is no longer Water Director at the Imperial Irrigation District. However, his attorney has stated that the video "was taken out of context and purports the truth to be revealed in court."

TEXAS

The president of the Burnet County Republican Club just northwest of Austin is facing charges after socking a 65-year-old newspaperman in the throat. Johnnie Rogers, 62, who also serves on Texas' GOP committee, launched a flurry of fists at Burnet Bulletin community editor James Walker after the journo refused to leave a "watching party" he was reporting on at the GOP headquarters. According to the accounts of witnesses, Rogers pushed his chest up against the reporter before taking a boxer's stance and punching him repeatedly, then boasting, "if you want some more of this, you come get some." The pol had allegedly been upset at Walker's coverage of Republican primaries. Reports the Austin American-Statesman:

The ironic thing about this mess is that pretty much every big shot in Burnet was on hand to watch the whippin'. 

It was election night, and the GOP-ers were celebrating at Republican headquarters. Which meant there was a good turnout, since everybody in Burnet is Republican, except for a half-dozen former poetry majors and a couple of bird-watchers. 

"This all happened right in front of at least a dozen law enforcement officers and elected officials," Walker said. "They all saw it." 

So it just wasn't a real smart place to make a fool of yourself.

GEORGIA

Marietta councilman Anthony Coleman has received 12 months of probation and court-ordered "violence evaluation" after admitting to an assault on a fellow councilmember. The incident, which occurred in a parking lot last September, left Councilwoman Annette Lewis with a tangerine-sized bruise on her shoulder. Coleman was apparently aggrieved over Lewis scheming to get him gerrymandered out of office. Per the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

The incident took place Sept. 22 after redistricting meeting in which Ward 1 council member Lewis presented a proposed redistricting map that would meet a federal requirement of creating a majority black district. 

The district she proposed would be on the opposite end of town from Coleman’s current Ward 5. Such a redistricting could cost Coleman, who is black, his council seat because he could end up in a redrawn district that is not majority black.

NEW JERSEY

Salonia Saxton, a councilwoman in Hillside, New Jersey, has been accused of trying to power-leverage her way out of a traffic ticket. The local police union has filed a complaint for workplace harassment against Saxton for alleged threats she made toward Lt. Matthew Ross, which include, according to the Star-Ledger, sending his personnel file to the city prosecutor's office and allotting the police union zero dollars in an impending labor contract. "Oh, that’s not a threat, I will make it happen," she is reported to have stated. The councilwoman has since gone on record to say she was "having a bad day."

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