Denouncing a dawn search Friday of their client's home by the Orange County district attorney's office, lawyers for newly elected Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach) said an investigator knocked Baugh down because Baugh photographed the searchers and the collected evidence.
The incident was described by Baugh's mentor, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), as a "home invasion assault" by "goons." Rohrabacher called for the resignation of Dist. Atty. Michael Capizzi, a Republican who has been in office since 1989.
District attorney's officials rejected the Baugh camp's version of events, but said six investigators executed a search warrant approved by a Superior Court judge, combing through the assemblyman's home for 2 1/2 hours Friday.
"There was no wrestling at all, and all the physical obstruction came" from Baugh, who was "rude, uncooperative . . . and somewhat obstructive," said Loren DuChesne, chief of the district attorney's bureau of investigation. "My people conducted themselves in an utterly professional manner." Baugh never fell to the ground, DuChesne said.
Baugh is being investigated for possible campaign finance irregularities in the 67th Assembly District race that concluded Nov. 28. The district attorney's office also is investigating his links to the candidacy of Democrat Laurie Campbell, who was removed from the ballot by a Sacramento Superior Court judge for filing falsified nomination papers.
Baugh, who did not appear at a Friday afternoon news conference outside his home, said through several spokesmen that he was in the shower when investigators knocked on his door at 7 a.m. He accused them of seizing personal documents outside the scope of the warrant--including his tax returns--and preventing him from dressing in private during the search.
"Scott got a camera and was taking pictures of them and of what they were doing," said attorney Ron Brower. "They took exception to that and told him they were going to seize the camera and that it was evidence."
Baugh did not surrender the camera, Brower said, and "got into a wrestling match [over it], and one of the investigators threw him against the door and onto the floor."
Rohrabacher described the search as retaliation by Capizzi against Baugh and other GOP conservatives, who this week asked for a criminal investigation of alleged irregularities in Capizzi's 1990 and 1994 nominating papers. Capizzi referred that request to state Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren's office, where an official said Friday that there were no violations of the law.
Rohrabacher said the district attorney's reaction to criticism "is reminiscent of the way Nazis and gangsters act."
District attorney's officials called the charges a diversion and defended the search.
DuChesne said the physical confrontation with Baugh occurred when boxes were being carried out and "he got in their way" while taking pictures.
Baugh was "agitated and was rude and got up close to them and was rummaging through the evidence," DuChesne said. "They asked for the camera in order to stop the minor obstruction."