Anaheim, CA – Ashleigh Aitken, a former prosecutor and consumer advocate running for Orange County Supervisor, took legal action today to fight back against a defamatory and dishonest smear effort led by campaign supporters of incumbent Supervisor Don Wagner. A dark-money group supporting Wagner made demonstrably false and legally actionable statements and spent tens of thousands of dollars promoting those claims in direct mail to Orange County voters. The effort is funded by many of the same developers and real estate interests who perennially support Wagner’s campaigns.
Aitken issued a cease and desist letter to the group and Wagner, predicate steps to filing a defamation action in Court in an unprecedented act to fight against lies and smears that have infested County politics.
Aitken released the following statement:“I want to address the outright lies being stuffed in voters’ mailboxes. Unfortunately, a dark money group from Sacramento, funded by same developers that have funded Wagner for over 20 years, has put out at least two hateful and false mailers about me, insinuating that I—the only candidate with law enforcement experience—am soft on crime. It is time to stop the lies.
I have never defended a child predator, or any judge that imposes lenient sentences on pedophiles. There is no letter from me supporting a judge reducing a sentence. Don knows this, and hence I am calling on Don to disavow these attacks and help me set the record straight. Don shouldn’t sit by while his developer cronies fabricate lies about my record.
I’m the mother of three little girls, a Girls Scout leader, and most relevant, I’m a former federal prosecutor who focused on putting child predators and pornographers behind bars. But, instead of acknowledging my work keeping our children safe, Don and his developer buddies are willing to fabricate lies to get him re-elected. I am confident the voters will see through these shameful tactics.”
Aitken released a video calling on Wagner to apologize for the pernicious lies coming from his campaign and the dark-money groups supporting him. The video can be found here.
The pro-Wagner dark money effort has sent mailers to Orange County voters that falsely claim that Aitken “wrote a letter” supporting a Judge who was the subject of a recall campaign over a sentencing decision regarding a convicted child sex offender. The clear intention of the false attacks is to give voters the impression that Aitken supported the judge’s decision in the case. The claims are simply not true. The defamatory mailers can be found here.
- Ashleigh Aitken has never written a letter supporting a judge who is the target of a recall.
- The letter cited as “proof” in the false attacks was written by the Orange County Bar Association, in response to death threats that the judge in question was receiving. Aitken did not draft the letter, and the letter did not endorse the judge’s decision.
- The letter stated that the OCBA believes in “judicial accountability” but that “personal attacks and accusations, and physical threats, exceed the bounds of appropriate criticism and threaten judicial independence.”
- Neither Aitken nor the Orange County Bar Association have ever supported the judge’s decision in the case. At the time, Aitken felt strongly that the judge had made a critical error.
- Don Wagner and Ashleigh Aitken were both members of the Orange County Bar Association at the time the letter was written.
- Aitken served as a federal prosecutor and worked to lock up child sex offenders.
This false attack is just the latest in a string of defamatory claims made by Wagner and the dark-money groups supporting him. Don Wagner’s campaign previously claimed that Aitken skipped meetings of the Orange County Fair Board, when Ashleigh was absent because she had recently given birth.
ABOUT ASHLEIGH AITKENBorn and raised in Orange County, Ashleigh Aitken has been fighting on behalf of OC families for twenty years. As a federal prosecutor serving the United States Attorney in the Central District of California, Ashleigh prosecuted violent crimes, illegal firearms distribution, narcotics, child pornography, and fraud. Now in private practice, Ashleigh fights to get justice for her clients. Ashleigh has worked pro bono to aid homeless veterans, victims of domestic violence, expand free legal services for our veterans and military families, and to protect the Orange County Fair Grounds.
Ashleigh currently serves on the Leadership team of United Way’s End Homelessness OC, working to bring more resources to Orange County neighborhoods to combat homelessness and build housing. In 2012, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Ashleigh to serve on the Orange County Fair Board, culminating in her service as Chairwoman in 2015. Ashleigh has served as the President of the Orange County Bar Association, where she established a Veterans Committee to increase pro bono legal support for veterans and their families. From 2011 to 2013, Ashleigh served as Chair of the Anaheim Community Services Board and helped to secure funding for local non-profit organizations that work to lift people out of poverty, prevent elder abuse, offer job training and placement, and provide additional education and arts resources to at-risk youth.
Ashleigh earned her Bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Boston College and her law degree from the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law. Ashleigh lives in Anaheim with her husband, Michael, their three children, and an ark of animals.