Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer title=
Kurt Hixenbaugh (left) and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham | Credit: Courtesy
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This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham, a practicing attorney who represents northern Santa Barbara County in the California State Assembly, has agreed to represent Kurt Hixenbaugh, the owner of a Orcutt wine bar who is facing four criminal charges for refusing to close his bar during the winter COVID-19 shutdown. 

Like Hixenbaugh, Cunningham (R) has been openly critical of Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive orders related to pandemic closures and protections, calling them “nonsensical” and “a joke.” Cunningham’s office did not respond to requests for comment on Hixenbaugh’s case.

If convicted, 49-year-old Hixenbaugh ― a Santa Maria resident and former police sergeant for the City of San Luis Obispo ― could be ordered to pay up to $4,000 in fines ($1,000 for each misdemeanor count) and be sentenced to jail time. He is the first person in Santa Barbara County to be criminally charged with violating COVID-19 health orders since the start of the pandemic.

Hixenbaugh posted a YouTube on April 6 in which he said retaining the Cunningham Law Group to challenge his charges is “going to be a little spendy.” He asked for donations through a GoFundMe page, which has so far raised less than $9,000 of its $50,000 goal. “Help fight Sacramento and help fight this county,” he says in the video.

In previous YouTube videos, Hixenbaugh likens Sacramento’s coronavirus restrictions to a “book on the neck” that is “killing our businesses.” He falsely claimed, as do the organizers of his GoFundMe page, that there is “zero evidence” open bars and restaurants help spread the virus. Multiple studies have shown that they do. 

Hixenbaugh retired from the San Luis Obispo Police Department in 2018 after 16 years on the force. At the time, he was being paid $140,000 a year and collecting $56,000 in benefits. He now receives an annual pension of $66,000. 

He is scheduled to be arraigned April 29 in Santa Maria Superior Court.

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Chip of SB Apr 14, 2021 10:53 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

It will be interesting to see whether freedom or authoritarianism prevails. So far authoritarianism seems to be creeping in, but perhaps the tide is turning. We really need a win for individual liberty.

sacjon Apr 14, 2021 11:45 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

CHIP - breaking the law which thousands of others of business owners dutifully complied with, is not an exercise of "individual liberty." Should we just stop obeying laws we don't like or agree with? I'd like nothing more than to eat a pile of mushrooms and wander around naked, tickling people and drinking whiskey and smoking Cuban cigars, but there are laws....... (goes without saying, I'm being facetious)

Alexblue Apr 14, 2021 12:08 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Some people think they are above the law. You'd think a former cop wouldn't be of that mind set.

Another right wing self appointed martyr-victim who wants everyone else to follow the rules but them.

Chip of SB Apr 14, 2021 12:14 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Authoritarianism and fascism have often been implemented “lawfully” all over the world. Just because it’s the law does not mean it isn’t authoritarianism/fascism. I don’t see any reason George Orwell’s vision of the future in 1984 couldn’t become the law of the land. Political dissidents will become criminals and they will be sent to prison camps for breaking the law. That’s how authoritarianism works. The people who implement it usually think it’s for their safety, for a good cause, and the right thing to do.

jak Apr 14, 2021 12:49 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Alexblue , you are absolutely correct. So many of those people are in government. Lockdowns for thee but not for me. So yes, go ahead and lock this guy up. Let him share a cell with Gavin Newsome.

Eggs Ackley Apr 14, 2021 01:30 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

I’d wager that the alt-right never stops whining about “losing their freedom” all the while squawking the big lie and urging insurrection. Noisier than a murder of crows but with far less intelligence or sense of loyalty. Perhaps you should celebrate; but individual liberty is something the clowns fail to truly understand.
Matt Gaetz: champion of that individual liberty know as statutory rape. Thunderpants: champion of defrauding the government. Ted Cruz et al champions of insurrection. They’ve got some serious house cleaning to do and that new party, can’t wait to celebrate.

RobinSB Apr 14, 2021 02:21 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Agree with you CHIP of Sb - plus need a little more personal responsibility. This lockdown was/is ridiculous. Those afraid or in the redzone of mortality should stay inside (it's their choice and I fully 100% support them). They should shelter etc. and i would have volunteered to assist people with groceries etc. - whatever they think is good FOR THEM I support - however those not afraid (like me) should be able to get on with it. I certainly have (and besides wearing a mask, social distancing and staying away from my old parents, i've not changed a thing and I have been going to work every day this entire time (because I'm essential and because I'm not afraid), going outside, restaurants, brewpubs, walking running cycling, the beach, the trails... I'm in an office with 30 people all who work hard, are essential and complied with the CDC guidelines, with not one transition in our office this whole time.

I get it - we complied - but the overreach and one size fits all lame government approach is lame. Case in point, now after a whole year of everyone freakishly cleaning and disinfecting everything multiple times a day, the CDC says "oh forget that, low risk and normal daily life cleaning is fine".

What a waste of more billions for people and businesses who did all this extra stuff for no reason. Boo

Why target certain businesses like bars and tattoo parlors/nail salons over other businesses? Why have food required at certain bars etc.? Why not let people be personally responsible. It can be done and I proved it, every day since they tried to shut everything down.....

Voice of Reason Apr 14, 2021 02:38 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Eggs, lay off the Kool-Aid. Please re-read at look at the number of flat out lies and propaganda BS you just wrote. Think about who told you all that information, why they told it to you, and where they happened to get that information (or made it up). Who exactly is the alt-right and how did you come to know their thoughts and motivations so well?

ChillinGrillin Apr 14, 2021 05:04 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Frankly many of the conservatives I know are done with the GOP. The patients took over the asylum after years of fear-mongering and racist dog-whistling. We haven't seen the last of the childish morons we saw on January 6th. They're still screaming about freedom and angry at nothing. Look around the world, restrictions on public behavior aren't some conspiracy to make a dictatorship, they are modern responses to a global pandemic. Grow up and stop cosplaying as George Washington or whatever deluded egotistical fantasy you have

Randy Parks Apr 14, 2021 09:32 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

It's obvious which Posters are <Non Small Business Owners>, sitting on their thumbs for sure, probably haven't given a dollar to help someone in time of need... rather blast, wank...

Randy Parks Apr 14, 2021 11:23 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Don't believe your statement at all - what hogwash - "angry at nothing?" you can't possibly be "happy" w who we have in office, for the dims I know, they dislike Kamala Biden, just slightly less than Trump. Woke up! haha

a-1618506617 Apr 15, 2021 10:10 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

@Randy, I'm a local small business owner and I've spoken on this topic before. I'm offended by what this guy did. I value the health and safety of my employees above all else and myself, and many others in my industry, chose to follow the rules. This guy should be punished and a politician should represent his constituents, not his private business.

Alexblue Apr 15, 2021 10:36 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Robin, the lockdown wasn't ridiculous, it was necessary. However, with vaccinations hitting 4m a day around the country, we are now able to safely come out of the lockdowns. The alt-right lunatics and evangelists who think that the vaccinations are either government tracking or Satanic in nature can go ahead and live without the vaccine and enjoy Covid, the rational humans who get vaccinate should now be able to go about their normal lives. m That being said, was the response perfect, of course it wasn't, this is something the world has not dealt with in a century, so, yeah, there was a learning curve, obviously.

MarcelK Apr 15, 2021 10:50 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Chip thinks that being required to stop at red lights is fascism. The right wing notion of "individual freedom" means being able to carry assault weapons, smoke in people's faces, be blatantly racist and sexist, overcharge people, cheat on your income taxes, storm the Capitol, etc. all without consequence. It's the ethics of sociopaths.

MarcelK Apr 15, 2021 11:01 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

"however those not afraid (like me)" -- so the sort of person who doesn't use oven mitts to pull a tray out of a hot oven, doesn't look both ways before crossing the street, doesn't look behind them before backing up, doesn't get mammograms ... no fear!

MarcelK Apr 15, 2021 11:05 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

"look at the number of flat out lies and propaganda BS you just wrote" -- wow, talk about projection. "Think about who told you all that information, why they told it to you, and where they happened to get that information (or made it up)." -- and lack of self-reflection.

Sail380 Apr 15, 2021 02:33 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

SACJON
Rebelling against unfair laws is how this great nation was formed. Nothing wrong with good whiskey and cigars unless it's over taxed by a authoritarian government. Or maybe that was tea?

a-1618522729 Apr 15, 2021 02:38 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

SBMH, you don't agree with what? That fact that I've done what the CDC said this whole time, while keeping an essential business of 65 people open, that we safely handled our lives outdoors as well as at work throughout this period (with no issues) and that I want those who are or feel unsafe to stay safe? Or you don't agree that people like me can think for themselves and act with personal responsibility?

Alexblue Apr 16, 2021 10:05 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Duke, you've convinced yourself that it's all or nothing, black or white, right or wrong when it comes to the response to Covid.

In fact, everyone responsible for managing this crisis was scrambling, adjusting and learning the ENTIRE TIME. Your saying we (and by that you don't mean "we", because you had nothing to do with managing this crisis) did virtually everything wrong is a totally simplistic take on what happened. The people dealing with this crisis followed the science and data that was available to them. Could it have been better managed, sure, could it have been better managed with the benefit of hindsight, obviously, but that's not how the real world operates.

The vast majority of people responsible for dealing with this did their best to protect human lives and the economy. Some people believe that there is a vast conspiracy within the government with the help of "insider" scientists to use Covid to somehow "control" the population, presumably for some terrible purpose.

People that advance that opinion are complete fools. I'm not saying you're at that level, but you have your toe in their pool.

dukemunson Apr 16, 2021 11:19 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Alex - It's certainly not a conspiracy and there certainly aren't insider scientists trying to "control" the population for terrible purposes. What we had though was the perfect storm of partisan politics. Trump zigged hard (and crazily too far) one direction and California, in it's quest to be the anti Trump state zagged hard (and crazily too far) the other direction.

You are right that the vast majority of people were doing their best. Unfortunately their best was often not following the science in any capacity. Take school closures. The rest of the world realized schools needed to be the last thing to close and the first thing to open. The CDC pretty quickly pushed this as well. School boards "knew better" than the experts...with posters like Pitmix advocating for schools not opening till Fall 2021 at the earliest.

The same popped up in regards to the economy. We arbitrarily closed and opened things. If a brewery served chips they could be open, but closed if they didn't. A restaurant with cavernous inside space must close but a practically completely enclosed outdoor tent on a parking lot could be open.

We perpetually moved the goal posts. We were supposed to close so as to not overrun our hospitals. But again, in trying so hard to be a "Nation-State" that did the opposite of Trump, a lot of well meaning people (and yeah bureaucrats) made horrible choice after horrible choice. To come back to school closures, the data was quickly coming out that schools had to reopen as their closures were having titanic effects on not only the economy but on the health and well being of our youth, especially our economically disadvantaged youth. But it became political. The fear of 1 kid or teacher getting sick trumped the needs of tens of millions of kids actual well being.

To say "their best" was actually consistently following the data and logic is...well...ridiculous. Those people are blinded to reality in their partisan support. And yes that's on both sides. I'm not saying you're at that level, but you definitely have your toe in that pool...

fitz Apr 14, 2021 10:57 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

As a constituent of Jordan Cunningham, I believe he should spend more time in Sacramento than he does in his private law business defending scofflaws like this bar guy. Maybe the t-shirt slogan says more about where Cunningham stands than anything else. I don't think Cunningham likes 'violence' like his client, but he does like the money. Cunningham has a terrible legislative attendance record which didn't get the coverage it merited when he ran for election. Word in Sacramento is he is a bit lazy and doesn't do much. He finds 'easy' issues to attach his name. But if the oil companies need a shill, they come running to him.

Voice of Reason Apr 14, 2021 01:33 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Fitz, I'm sure he tried to spend more time in Sacramento but the party that holds supermajority in California kept canceling, postponing, and limiting legislative sessions the past 14 months.

fitz Apr 14, 2021 05:00 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Cunningham's poor attendance and voting record had nothing to do with the other party. He just didn't show up to vote. Seems like he had a very lucrative year in his law practice while his 'absences' from his legislative duties mounted up. His constituents deserve better, whether he agrees with them or not.

sacjon Apr 15, 2021 11:48 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

VOR - enough with the downvote whining. You post comments that are not only objectionable on moral and factual grounds to so many many people here, but you do so with an air of superiority (check out your screen name) that is kind of obnoxious most of the time. I won't downvote you now, as I've said my piece. One thing I hate is when I ask a question and people just downvote it instead of responding or providing an explanation, so I understand and agree with you on that!

sacjon Apr 14, 2021 11:49 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

LOOK OVER HERE - the CDC never said that. Why would you willfully lie about something we all know is false? Hey, I just was talking to an leprechaun and it told me that dinosaurs and car-sized moths are living and thriving in Santa Ynez valley right outside the Sioux Amusement park that people think is a Chumash Casino.

RHS Apr 14, 2021 01:04 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

What is common is for law enforcement to believe that they are endowed with the ability to decide whom to arrest and whom to ignore. They have a view that there are good laws which should be enforced against bad people but not against good people. Bad laws can be useful against bad people but never against good people. They, of course, define who is good and who is bad. This form of "street justice" is not unlike that of gangs which the police have begun aping. Proud Boys/Oath Keepers and many known tattooed cop gang LA Sheriffs Office deputies and LAPD cops. Society needs to get these people out of the armed part of our community but that is going to be really hard given the undue adulation engendered for these folks over the past few "law and order" generations.

Babycakes Apr 14, 2021 04:01 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

RHS: Apples and Oranges, plus you bring up another extreme far-reach "whataboutism" example to the conversation. No one cares except for pearl-clutching finger pointers who gasp at the thought that someone thinks differently than they do. Try to stop making a big deal out of minutiae, and to boot, only from a negative point of view. It's not complicated. Namaste and peace to all, and I do mean to ALL...even to those who completely disagree with me as you have a right to not be hated, made fun of, and bullied for your beliefs. Inspired by the words of Rodney King, one of the most famous victims of all, let's all just try to get along.

Shmonk Apr 14, 2021 03:43 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

"Hixenbaugh last made news reports in 2017 when, as a member of the San Luis Obispo Police Department, he publicly defended a colleague who claimed sexual assault victims frequently “conjured up” reports of rape after consuming too much alcohol."

Seems like a real stand up guy.

forrealnews Apr 14, 2021 08:10 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Hmm..former police officer comfortable with violence...how weird. Shooting people of color who don't obey a command but think their privilege to do whatever they want during a deadly pandemic means they should face no penalties, and of course, violence should never happen to them personally.

Seabird Apr 14, 2021 08:53 PM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

"Pay my pension," waaaahhhh... "Pay my legal fees," waaaahhh... "Someone told me what to do, and it hurt my feelings," waaahhhh. Poor little baby in his big man t-shirt. I think he needs some more Cheerios.

SBSand Apr 15, 2021 06:09 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

He mocked the law and was a complete jacka$$ while doing it. Hopefully he has consequences for that. Former cop with a blatant disregard for the law during a pandemic. Talk about being a self serving loser!!

Luvaduck Apr 15, 2021 07:25 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

What ever happened to the slogan about independence & personal freedom "Your right to swing your arms ends before my nose"? If you choose to live with others, that choice alone calls for respect for others and initiates limits on <everyone's behavior. You can drive however you want on your own ranch. Off it, you can't ignore stop signs, speed limits red lights and choose which side of the street you drive on with impunity because you would be a danger to everyone else.

Voice of Reason Apr 15, 2021 09:03 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

Luva: you comment is right on but you have it backwards; you (and anyone else) are free to stay home, stay safe, and patron or not patron any business you like. Unlike driving on the roads, no one NEEDS to go to a restaurant or bar. No one is forcing people to purchase their food or other essential items from these places. A more apt example would be someone swinging their arms and you walk right into them, then cry about getting hit in the nose and want them arrested for assault.

sacjon Apr 15, 2021 09:37 AM
Wine Bar COVID Scofflaw Retains Assemblymember as Lawyer

VOR - were his employees free to make that choice (without forfeiting a paycheck)? His children? His neighbors? All those who were unknowingly and involuntarily put at risk (eg, fellow grocery shoppers, bank clerks, etc)?

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