Paul Chabot’s three-year quest for the Republican nomination in California’s 31st Congressional District sails on, but, once again, water is slowly filling up his candidacy’s ship, promising to sink it.
Chabot cloaks his resume in entrepreneurial, psychological, and even by implication medical, chops he has never demonstrated. His father’s sex offenses against a child, when Paul was coming of age himself, seem to have left the candidate tilting at windmills with accusations of perversion, especially in light of Chabot’s hard-nosed stance on increasingly tolerated marijuana; and, though a peace officer who prides himself as being tough on crime, Paul’s extant public-service record as a California parole commissioner shows him as having been AWOL.
In the mid-‘80s, a girl under 14 performed oral sex on Chabot’s father on three occasions. Not long after, Paul started experimenting with alcohol and marijuana. Ever since the conviction of his father, Roland Chabot, for sexual perversion, instead of indulging in rants, for better or worse, perceived as off-putting, about the dangers of child abuse, Paul Chabot seems to have sublimated these concerns into a crusade against lessened criminal sentences for marijuana users. Paul Chabot is running at top speed from an often unfair stigma that is based in reality;a 2001 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, by actual doctors, suggests a third of male child molesters were victims themselves.
Chabot’s hard-line drug prohibitionist stance has earned him avowed critics in a state early to the medical marijuana bandwagon. Among those critics was Lanny Swerdlow, a pro-pot activist who, in 2007, attempted to verbally confront Chabot at a prohibitionist engagement. When Swerdlow showed up, Chabot called the police on Swerdlow, alleging that the elderly man had pushed Chabot. Subsequent criminal proceedings, however, and, later, a unanimous jury in civil proceedings, concluded that Chabot had not been a victim of battery. As a volunteer peace officer himself, Chabot should know the law well enough not to make frivolous 911 calls. Libertarian-leaning conservatives in California’s 31st are examining with skepticism the candidate’s commitment to prudent use of government power.
As recently as Sept. 2013, Chabot continued to try to discredit the activist in the eyes of the public, blasting Swerdlow in an anti-drug email list for a 15 year old Oregon criminal investigation into Swerdlow for child pornography, investigations that ultimately led to no related charges against Swerdlow. Though Chabot is happy to try to discredit his drug-war opponents as perverts, he is less interested in discussing his own father, who had actual sex with a child.
Indeed, Chabot habitually conflates mere marijuana possession with child pornography—the possession, if not distribution, thereof. Three years ago, he elicited incredulity, and even chuckling, from Huffington Post reporters after he likened pot to child porn, implying the latter was, like marijuana, socially inevitable, but the battle against both must nonetheless be fought. Comparing a drug with, quite arguably, fewer social costs than alcohol, to child exploitation strains the reason of many voters. Judging from Chabot’s terminal lack of perspective, voters in California’s Inland Empire, just west of Los Angeles, will be asking whether his statements mean the candidate is too hard on marijuana, or too soft on child exploitation.
Reductionist comparisons such as these run like a thread through Chabot’s writings and statements. His 2011 book, “Eternal Battle Against Evil,” an adamantly anti-evil text, engages in cloth-thin comparisons between tactics used by Mexican drug cartels and Islamic terrorist organizations.
Chabot is a replete with contradictions. Like what seems like all candidates these days, he advertises himself as the quintessential outsider, but his earliest professional experiences were inside the Clinton and Bush White Houses, at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), or “drug czar.” (Whatever case may or may not exist for legalizing marijuana, federal law requires the ONDCP to oppose any attempt to change marijuana’s scheduling.)
Chabot has repeatedly touted himself as a small-business man, committed to the virtues of entrepreneurship and small government, cornerstones of the Republican Party platform. But the anti-drug nonprofit Paul and his wife, Brenda, run, the nonprofit FreeStyle Foundation, is, in all factuality, set to receive over a half million dollars in federal taxpayer money—in 2014 alone, $130,000 of that having already flowed toward the Chabots for the benefit of their anti-drug nonprofit. As of 2014, virtually all of the foundation’s funding was coming from the public, even while Paul Chabot attempts to solicit its clients for lecturing fees.
In one of Chabot’s own ads, the best representation the congressional candidate could find for when his narration describes him as a small-business man is him at his desk as a California state parole commissioner, obviously a government job.
Three of Chabot’s four years with California’s corrections department, from 2006 to 2010, can’t be scrutinized, because he was dealing with cases of juvenile delinquency. In 2009, just before his failed 2010 state assembly run, then Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed him to the adult parole commission. As for the two parole review hearings during his brief tenure appraising adult offenders, he failed to attend one, andabstained from voting three-quarters of the time in the other.
Entrepreneurial gumption and bootstraps haven’t accelerated Chabot’s purse. What no doubt contributed to his ultimate success in securing federal grant money, were his years, 1999 to 2005, as an adviser in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which stepped up the marketing of his anti-drug lectures. The FreeStyle Foundation’s $600,000-plus grant is a major financial coup for the Chabots. As of 2011, their free-market “entrepreneurial” instincts faltered, as they failed to secure a three-year contract with San Bernardino County liaising with Sacramento lawmakers to funnel tax dollars locally.
Paul Chabot would have voters, and grant reviewers, believe that his hard luck, and, to his credit, sober mind, qualifies him as an anti-drug mentor to youth. But his self-promotion fails to confront his lack of training in either medicine or psychology, and peddles a veneer of free-market autonomy his family has not attained, and that Republican voters love to seek out. For them, who may prefer to see drug addicts funneled out of the criminal justice system, and into actual medical care, questions persist about whether his own misfortunates have jeopardized his ability to maintain perspective on economic and criminal justice issues.