Deborah Pauly, a former Villa Park councilwoman and a candidate for state Assembly, was arrested in Anaheim earlier this month for drunken driving, according to a spokesman with the Anaheim Police Department.
Lt. Eric Trapp said Pauly, 56, was driving a blue Porsche 911 and negotiating a turn from the 1100 N. Minot block onto Ventura street when she struck a white Mazda pickup truck. The truck was parked at the time of the accident, Trapp said.
She was given a field sobriety test and officers determined she was intoxicated, according to Trapp. She was booked at the Anaheim police station.
Pauly, a well known anti-establishment figure within the Orange County GOP, triggered a firestorm in 2011 for comments she made that were perceived as hate speech against Muslims.
Speaking to a crowd of protesters outside an Islamic charity event held at a mosque in Yorba Linda, Pauly said, “I know quite a few Marines who would be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise,” and that what was happening inside the mosque was “pure, unadulterated evil.”
Later, Pauly claimed her remarks were aimed at two of the event’s speakers who she alleged were terrorists. But that did little to satisfy critics. Hundreds of people from various ethnicities and faiths protested at Villa Park City Hall, calling Pauly’s remarks bigoted and Islamophobic.
This isn’t the first time Pauly has had a run-in with police involving alcohol. In 2012, her husband James tried to evade a police DUI checkpoint in Orange, but instead crashed the car he was driving, also a Porsche, into a curb and was arrested for drunken driving, the OC Weekly reported.
During that arrest, James Pauly tried to slip off his handcuffs, and Deborah Pauly asked to drive the Porsche home, according to the Weekly. But police refused the request because she appeared to be drunk, the Weekly said.
When reached for comment, Pauly said she didn’t want to discuss the circumstances of her accident this month because her DUI case is still pending.
However, she did acknowledge making comments during the police encounter that could have been construed as anti-Muslim.
At first, she said it’s “absolutely not true” that she made anti-Muslim remarks the night she was arrested. But when asked if she said something that could have been interpreted or misconstrued as anti-Muslim, she responded, “it was 9/11,” referring to the anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
According to an online city log, she was arrested at 1:24 am on Sept. 12.
“It’s impossible I think to go through 9/11 without thinking what happened to our country, and how so many of our freedoms have been lost as a result,” she said.
Officers “hear what they want to hear,” Pauly said.
During the interview, Pauly went on to speculate that Muslims had fed the story to Voice of OC. She also accused others who don’t want to see her elected of pushing the story, including possibly her opponents in the assembly race or members of the county GOP establishment.
“This is someone of course trying to discredit me… I expect to be attacked constantly. I expect every little thing I do to be scrutinized,” Pauly said. “I certainly wasn’t making any comments other than how distressing that day is, which it is,” she said.
Pauly also said while she “doesn’t remember making comments about any particular group” during her conversation with the police, it’s possible police thought she was referring to Islamic extremism.
“Maybe when [the officers who arrested her] think of 9/11, they think of Islamic terrorists,” Pauly said. “Maybe any normal person thinks of Islamic terrorists when they think of 9/11, since every single one of the hijackers were Islamic terrorists.”
She further defended her remarks by saying people should be allowed to discuss Islamic extremism on the anniversary of 9/11, saying that it would set a “pretty bad precedent” if people couldn’t “think about this day.”
Whether the public will be able to hear what Pauly actually said that night remains to be seen. Anaheim police officers wear body cameras during their interactions with the public, but Trapp said the recorded video isn’t currently public record. He said that might be reevaluated after the case is adjudicated.
“Currently our policy is not to release the video to the public,” he said.
A hearing date for Pauly’s DUI case hasn’t been set yet, Trapp said.