Dana Hobart Accused of Defaming Stephen R. Jaffe, a Former City Council Candidate
RANCHO MIRAGE — Dana Hobart, first elected to the City Council in 2002, is accused of defaming Stephen R. Jaffe, a candidate in the April 2020 City Council election, during a Feb. 20, 2020 City Council meeting.
In a letter of demand, Los Angeles-based Attorney Gary Bostwick demands Hobart retract statements made during the meeting as they are allegedly actionable for invasion of privacy and other causes, according to documents Uken Report has obtained. Bostwick’s firm specializes in defamation, invasions of privacy and other matters related to the First Amendment,
“I would never defame someone,” Hobart told Uken Report.
Hobart’s attacks on then-candidate Jaffe were directed at him as a member of Save Rancho Mirage, an opponent to the In-N-Out project at 42-560 Bob Hope Drive on a vacant lot in the Rancho Las Palmas Shopping Center, according to a complaint Bruce T. Bauer filed against the city. He is the attorney representing Save Rancho Mirage,
The “diatribe,” as Bauer characterized it, lasted 25 minutes — almost a third — of a 1 1/2-hour public meeting designed to do the people’s business. Members of the public are given a maximum of 3 minutes to speak.
At the Feb. 20, 2020 City Council meeting, then-Mayor Pro Tem G. Dana Hobart, from the dais, belittled, mocked and disparaged Jaffe,
Hobart’s colleagues — Richard Kite, Ted Weill, and Charles Townsend — sat silent while Hobart seemed to rail on Stephen Jaffe for more than 25 minutes. At its conclusion then-Mayor Iris Smotrich thanked Hobart.
In his letter of demand, Bostwick writes that in addition to the complaint lodged against Hobart, he is looking into whether the city of Rancho Mirage itself, others on the City Council, or the City Attorney committed tortious acts.
As an example, Bostwick alleges the City Attorney used public money to conduct research for Hobart’s personal political authority.
The statements “have generated and will continue to generate great damage,” according to Bostwick’s letter of demand.
Unless Hobart promptly publishes a retraction in as prominent a manner as the original publications, this damage will multiple enormously, according to the letter of demand. “You are responsible for the damage caused,” Bostwick wrote,
“…the Council as a whole sat idly and allowed you (Hobart) to spend the time and resources of the city to make a campaign speech.”
Jaffe has one year from the date of the alleged incident to sue Hobart and potentially others.
Jaffe declined to comment for this story.
City Attorney Steve Quintanilla did not respond to request for comment.
- Defamation: Shutterstock