Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer confirmed Thursday that police came to his home and asked him to take a field sobriety test.
The councilman told the Daily Pilot that he was targeted Wednesday evening by political enemies who falsely reported that he was driving drunk.
“Clearly it was a setup,” he said.
A Police Department press release, issued Thursday evening, said authorities responded to Righeimer’s home about 6 p.m.
The release describes the informant as a motorist who, after calling police about a possibly intoxicated driver, followed the suspected car, later identified to be Righeimer’s, until it arrived home. The motorist then aided the police in pointing out Righeimer’s residence.
Righeimer told the Pilot that police came to his Mesa Verde home about seven minutes after he arrived and asked if he had been drinking.
He said he had had nothing more than a Diet Coke. He submitted to the officer’s request that he take a sobriety test. The officer, he said, held up a penlike device and tracked his eye movements.
“I was in front of my three children doing a sobriety test on my front porch,” Righeimer said. “It was mortifying.”
Righeimer passed that portion of the test. He was not asked to perform other measures, such as walking in a straight line or doing a Breathalyzer test.
Two other police officers, who requested anonymity, confirmed that a driver called in to report the mayor pro tem’s driving.
Righeimer told the Pilot he had been driving safely that evening.
He had attended a community meeting on Ford Road that afternoon. The event addressed concerns about public safety on that street.
The councilman has proposed laying off some city employees and outsourcing their jobs to the private sector, and has called for pension reforms.
“This is not a random situation,” Righeimer said. “Someone did this on purpose.”
Lt. Tim Schennum said the department is looking into the initial information to ensure its validity.
— Staff Writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.