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GOP Candidate for California Governor Sued for Bringing ‘Drugged and Abused’ Bear on Campaign Trail


California Republican gubernatorial hopeful John Cox faces a lawsuit for bringing a 1,000-pound Kodiak bear on the campaign trail. Cox has been campaigning on promises of “Big Beastly Changes to Save California.”

“Leading the Charge to Recall failed Pretty Boy Politician Gavin Newsom,” Cox’s Twitter bio says.

According to Cox, he’s been “roaring through California gaining BEASTLY momentum” as Newsom’s “top challenger.”

ICYMI: John Cox roared through California gaining BEASTLY momentum as the top challenger to @GavinNewsom. #CAGov

As part of his tour, Cox rides a bear-themed bus, and routinely makes comments casting himself as “Beast” to Newsom’s “Beauty.”

One beast-themed antic, however, allegedly went too far. Cox brought a 1,000-pound Kodiak bear named Tag on a campaign stop in Shelter Island on May 11, then to San Diego the following week. Animal rights group Animal Protection and Rescue League, Inc. (“APRL”) filed a lawsuit against Cox and unnamed others earlier this week, claiming that they illegally held events “with a captive, 1000-pound bear who has been drugged and abused for this purpose.”

Specifically, the lawsuit cites a San Diego Municipal Code provision which prohibits individuals from bringing “any lion, tiger, bear” into the jurisdiction, “irrespective of their actual or asserted state of docility, tameness or domesticity.”

The plaintiff group requests a court order declaring that “bringing or maintaining a captive bear in the City of San Diego violates San Diego Municipal Code § 44.0305 and constitutes a public nuisance under Civil Code § 3479.” The plaintiff also seeks “reasonable” attorneys’ fees.

Cox has run against Newsom in the past; in 2018, Newsom won by almost 3 million votes.

The San Diego Humane Society is reportedly also investigating Cox’s use of a bear at his events.

John Cox did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

[screengrab via ABC7]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos