By now we all know California’s State Sen. Roy Ashburn, representing Bakersfield, was arrested early Wednesday morning. But getting picked up by police is one thing. It’s an entirely different scenario when you get arrested for drunk driving while leaving a gay bar — hey, $1 well drinks on Wednesdays! — and you’ve consistently voted against gay rights issues. So just what are the worst things about Ashburn’s arrest?
He’s an elected public official. And shouldn’t he be more responsible? One only needs to look at New York State to know politicians are often criminals, but these men and women are held to a higher standard, because they are our representatives in this democracy. We voted to put them there, and they walk all over that respect by breaking the law? These folks don’t need to be perfect; we don’t expect that. But every single one of them campaigned to some degree on moral character — that they are good enough people to know right from wrong, justice from oppression. Getting arrested throws all of that in our faces. (Though we’re big supporters of “innocent until proven guilty,” so until Ashburn is convicted or pleads guilty to DUI charges, we’ll withhold our most brutal assessments, but he’s already apologized for his “actions,” so that’s an admission of wrongdoing right there.)
He was (allegedly) drunk. A cop pulled Ashburn over after spotting his car, around 2am, weaving on the road in downtown Sacramento. Sgt. Rick Campbell of the California Highway Patrol says Ashburn’s eyes were bloodshot and he reeked of alcohol. He failed a sobriety test. How embarrassing. And how lucky for Ashburn that he didn’t hit anybody. Drunk politicians is such a cliche.
He was driving a state vehicle. Taxpayers funded the black Chevy Tahoe that Ashburn was driving. It now sits in an impound lot. Are state cars supposed to be used for personal business, like cruising bars for hookups? Either way, the image of Ashburn using it to pick up tricks is disturbing. Taxpayers shouldn’t fund the trysts of elected officials; even South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford knows that.
He was arrested next to a hotel. Ashburn was pulled over around 13th Street at L Street, right next to the Sacramento Hyatt Regency. We don’t know Ashburn’s final destination, but a junior suite with his male passenger certainly appears a possibility.
He’s married with kids. Ashburn was arrested after leaving a bar, with a stranger in the car. You do the math. So much for those Republican family values and the institution of marriage we hear so much about.
He didn’t even break the rules. Yes, this is one of the worst things: Driving drunk, and being convicted of it, doesn’t even violate any California State Senate ethics rule. Which means there can be no action taken against him by the legislature. If Ashburn wants to finish his term, he’s free to do so. (To be fair, he’s been booked on misdemeanor drunk driving, not felony charges, which are usually required by any political body to take disciplinary action.)
He’s a bigot! You knew this one was coming. As a lawmaker, Ashburn has spent years denying gay Californians their rights. “In March 2009, Sen. Ashburn voted against a Senate resolution declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional,” relays Joe My God. “Ashburn voted three times to oppose the creation of Harvey Milk Day. In September he voted against California recognizing out of state same-sex marriages. In 2008 he voted to oppose an expansion of the state’s insurance laws to include sexual orientation as a protected class.” But he feels totally comfortable with The Gays when it comes to getting his rocks off? This is the worst type of lawmaker: The hypocrite who votes against an entire class of people to whom he belongs.
And if we even hear from a bartender that he’s a bad tipper, we’ll lose it.