[ UPDATE BELOW ]
It seems 5th District Democrat nominee Jane Dittmar has been hiding from her past for quite some time. As first reported by Justin Higgins, Dittmar was arrested and convicted for driving under the influence in Albemarle County back in 1999.
What has apparently been missed so far is how Dittmar’s arrest came about.
Dittmar’s conviction resulted not just from being a smidge over the legal limit after a happy hour margarita…it happened because she crashed the car she was driving and was found by the investigating officer to have been under the influence at the time. Shockingly, this happened while she had an unrestrained minor in the car at the same time.
The Albemarle Police Department acknowledges in a response to a FOIA request on the matter that (a) a DUI arrest of Dittmar was made; (b) the arrest was on the same day as reflected in record of conviction above; (c) the offense involved an automobile crash; and (d) that further disclosure is prohibited by law because of the involvement of one or more juveniles (i.e., the kid(s) not strapped into their car seats). The APD indicate that two charges issued: DUI and failure to properly restrain a child.
Dittmar’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication of this post.
We’ll leave it to readers to judge the significance of this behavior and Dittmar’s subsequent conviction. Opinions can vary in terms of how directly it bears on a candidate’s qualifications to represent Virginia’s 5th Congressional District in Washington. (I’ll note, however, that while Dittmar was taking her ride in the police squad car, Army Lieutenant Tom Garrett was leading squads of troops at Ft. Sill).
But, as is almost always the case, it’s less about the crime and more about the cover-up. Rather than simply coming clean about this, Dittmar appears to be dodging it, and trying to bury the story with obfuscations and misdirections. More on that as details emerge.
Whatever the full back story is on how Dittmar has been able to quash headlines about this episode, it is clear that her behavior lands her in a proud pantheon Albemarle Democrats. She is now squarely in the company of Cynthia Neff, a “Democratic activist” who lost a bid to unseat Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) and who spent a night in the pokey for DUI back in 2012.
Neff stands alongside former Albemarle Democrat Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford, who went down in a blaze of glory in 2013 over accusations about withholding evidence to wrongly imprison an innocent man, and for misuse of county money. Taking the cake among the esteemed ranks of Albemarle Democrats, though, is Dittmar’s predecessor on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Christopher Dumler:
Once hailed as a rising star in the local Democratic Party, Dumler’s fall from grace after becoming the youngest elected Supervisor in county history was sudden. Ten months after assuming his duties as the county’s Scottsville representative in 2012, authorities charged Dumler, then 27, with forcibly sodomizing a woman.
Dumler is now a fugitive from justice, having absconded to the Philippines to avoid standing trial for failure to appear in court.
What is it with Albemarle Democrats and tawdry run-ins with the law? Is it something in the water?
More to come on this story as it emerges.
UPDATE: Rob Schilling has interesting news: “SILENT RUNNING: DITTMAR SHUTS DOWN FACEBOOK PAGE.” Apparently the blowback resulting from this story, and from Dittmar’s overreaction to a citizen lawfully bearing a firearm, got to be too much for the Dittmar campaign, such that they’ve pulled the plug on one of their key social media assets three weeks out from the election. Coming on the heels of news about the Garrett campaign being flush with a $400,000 cash infusion, things aren’t looking too good for the kind of last-minute rescue from DCCC on which the Dittmar campaign is so desperately relying.