San Luis Obispo City Council candidate Paul Brown's personal life surfaced again Tuesday when his ex-wife publicly decried his run for office because of their troubled history.
The email blast to more than 100 community members, political leaders, news media and business people came just one week after ballots were sent to San Luis Obispo voters for the special mail-only election to fill a vacant council seat.
In October 2007, when Brown was a sitting council member, his then-wife, Jayne Brown, obtained a restraining order against him for alleged domestic violence in the midst of a contentious divorce. At Paul Brown’s request, a San Luis Obispo Superior Court commissioner dissolved the order in May 2009, a year before it was set to expire.
In her email Tuesday, Jayne Brown wrote, “I’m breaking my silence now because like schoolyard bullies, domestic violence abusers who seek power and control over others are too often fueled by silence and apathy.”
In that email, she states the abuse was documented with photos and hospital records; that Paul Brown continued to deny responsibility for the abuse; and that the dissolution of the restraining order did not invalidate the original issuance.
On Tuesday, Paul Brown, a police officer in Guadalupe, rebutted the statements, saying that if the accusations were true, he would not be able to work as a police officer in California.
“I have successfully passed four background investigation processes and have never been denied employment as a law enforcement officer based on anything in my personal history,” he wrote in an email in response Tuesday to the media. For a short time, ending in 2012, he was employed by the Morro Bay Police Department.
Jayne Brown told The Tribune in an email Tuesday that she was never contacted by the city of Guadalupe as part of a background check. The Tribune could not confirm if the incident was included in his background check there because it was classified as confidential personnel information, according to Guadalupe attorney David Fleishman.
In court filings and on the stand during past court proceedings, Paul Brown denied he ever struck his wife or abused her.
However, Jayne Brown was awarded the three-year restraining order when Superior Court Commissioner Patrick J. Perry ruled in 2007 that the evidence of physical abuse that she presented against Paul Brown was more believable than his testimony.
Brown has continued to deny physically abusing her, and no criminal case was ever filed.
Key supporters of Brown’s campaign — Councilman Dan Carpenter and Councilwoman Kathy Smith — both say their support has not wavered despite Jayne Brown’s public plea.
“I don’t believe these personal things should come up during a campaign,” Carpenter said. “I decided to endorse him based on his ability to do the job on City Council. I am able to separate that from his personal life.”
Smith said she was at first concerned, but after talking with Paul Brown she was convinced that “there was nothing we need to be concerned about.”
“It is not something I took lightly at all, and I am satisfied that he is a good person for our council at this time,” Smith said.
The allegations of domestic violence were the first of several incidents in Brown’s past that have led some of his opponents to question his judgment.
In December 2011, he reported that two guns were stolen from his car while it was parked outside his San Luis Obispo home. At the time, he was working as a police officer in training for the Morro Bay Police Department.
The incident prompted an internal investigation by the Morro Bay police. Brown later resigned.
Brown told The Tribune recently he does not know if his car doors were locked at the time of the theft.
Prior to that, a 2010 kitchen fire, ignited by cooking oil he left unattended in a pot on the stove, caused significant damage to his house.
His ex-wife noted those events in her email: “Paul’s behavior both during our divorce and what has been publicly reported about him since our divorce, in my mind, has revealed his questionable character, and his careless nature.”
Brown said he knew that running for office would lead some people to question his past.
“People who have asked me have received an honest response,” Brown said Tuesday. “I think it is a fair question for people to ask me about. I am not going to live my life according to what people might say.”
Brown also said, in an emailed statement Tuesday, “I regret the public has to have all this ‘dirty laundry’ aired, once again, because of the election. I feel it is regrettable that accusations like this are used as a tool in divorce and politics because it takes away from those who truly need protection from physical abuse.”
Jayne Brown, who lives and works in San Luis Obispo, said in an email response to The Tribune that she did not speak out when Paul Brown ran for mayor in 2010 because she was not emotionally ready.
“Every candidate should be transparent as the public has the right to know the true character of the person that seeks to hold that office,” she said. “What voters do with the information is up to them, but they are certainly entitled to the publicly available information.”
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.