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Donnelly Finds Support From an Unlikely Person

Following his gun citation at an Ontario airport, Tea Party Assemblyman Tim Donnelly gets some surprising words of encouragement from Gov. Jerry Brown.

While Assemblyman Tim Donnelly still calls Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal a “disaster,” Donnelly is grateful toward his “biggest rival in the state” for one thing.

Speaking at the Glendora Police Auxiliary awards banquet Friday at the American Legion Hall, Donnelly recounted the brief conversation he had with the governor following

The citation sparked a firestorm of media interest, as well as a little ridicule from the Tea Party assemblyman’s colleagues and critics.

“Usually the Democrats stay away from me and now they come up to me and frisk me,” joked Donnelly.

Donnelly said the governor spotted him at the state capitol and pulled him aside.

“He says to me, ‘Don’t worry about this gun thing, It almost happened to me. We forgot my Dad’s gun at the airport once, but luckily we remembered it before we got to the screeners,’” said Donnelly.

 “What was neat was that he was genuinely reaching out to me as a human being,” said Donnelly, considering the gesture came from someone he calls his “biggest rival” on the political platform. Donnelly has been one of the governor’s harshests critics on the state budget and the Dream Act.

“When you have that respect from someone you’re battling with, then you can actually get something done,” said Donnelly.

Gov. Jerry Brown has not confirmed Donnelly’s story.

Donnelly has faced public scrutiny since his Jan. 4 citation, when he said he mistakenly forgot his loaded .45 revolver in his laptop briefcase before passing through TSA screening.

Still the incident raised the question – Why wasn’t Donnelly arrested?

Although he was detained and received a citation, Donnelly said he believes airport police conducted the situation with “professionalism.”

“I had never been on that side of the law, but they were immediately able to determine that I wasn’t a threat,” said Donnelly. “I was an assemblyman on the way to work. I forgot that I had my .45 in my bag and yes, this is a serious matter. But there was no intent, and they treated me as such.”

TSA spokesperson Nico Melendez said arrests are up to airport police’s discretion.

“I don’t know why they decided to do what they did,” said Melendez. “It’s kind of like someone getting pulled over for speeding. You might get a ticket, or you might not.”

Media reports also indicated Donnelly did not possess a concealed weapons permit at the time of his citation.

Donnelly continued to deflect the question when asked about the permit.

“I feel it has already been discussed in the media, and everything that needs to be out there on the issue, already is,” said Donnelly.

The San Bernardino District Attorney’s office is reviewing the case and will decide whether to press charges against Donnelly, whose misdemeanor could carry a sentence of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. TSA could also fine Donnelly up to $10,000.

“I’m not some wild man that you read about in the media,” said Donnelly. “That’s definitely not how I wanted to start off the new year.”

Joe Walker January 24, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Great anecdote from Gov Brown about his dad. Back then, there were no metal detectors on airplanes and a lot more people carried concealed weapons. Brown Sr. had been the attorney general of California, (like his son later was) and was very much hated by the mob for his activities. That said, Donnelly should be treated the same or harsher than other citizens, as he should have known better.

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