Is Brad Maaske Qualified to Hold Public Office?
Local real estate broker and business owner Brad Maaske is running for Tulare County Board of Supervisors District 3 against incumbent Amy Shuklian.
He has a few blemishes.
According to public records Mr. Maaske has two DUIs, has been married five times, had a temporary restraining order (TRO), had his driver’s license revoked, spent 30 days in jail, has been sued multiple times for fraud, been pursued multiple times by collection agencies, has been sued and has sued multiple times in small claims court, and has had to pay multiple fines.
He is currently practicing with a restricted real estate license and is being investigated by the Fair Political Practices Committee (FPPC.)
After Mr. Maaske sat down and gave me his side of the story to his long legal record he posted this on Facebook:
“The proof of our polar opposition will come next week when Catherine Doe with the Valley Voice brings out every skeleton she could find in my closet… some still have flesh on them.”
This statement is true and false.
First, it’s not true that I found every skeleton in his closet because I didn’t have time. It took me a week and a half of multiple visits to the courthouse to get what I did.
But it is true that some of his skeletons still have flesh on them.
So I asked Mr. Maaske, “Are you qualified to hold public office?”
“Absolutely,” he said. “That’s in my past. Those who don’t have any sins can throw the first stones.”
Every middle-aged man I know, and a few women, have at least one or two of the same legal troubles.
The difference is that they do not have all of them.
Before we sat down for our interview I wanted to put to bed rumors that Mr. Maaske did not live at his real estate office/home where he is registered to vote. This is against election code.
The question of residency actually came up at the forum at Café 210 and was asked of all the candidates, but I knew it was really directed at Mr. Maaske.
Unannounced I knocked on the door of his office one crisp afternoon and asked to see his bedroom. His elderly but very spry office manager, who knows my mom and me through Tulare County Panhellenic, looked slightly miffed, but realtors are asked to do all kinds of crazy things. Mr. Maaske came around the corner, shook my hand, then gave me a tour of his organized mess of a house. I was impressed that his bed was made.
He definitely lives there at least part time and has been registered at that same address forever, so case closed on residency.
The rest of Mr. Maaske’s complicated life was not as cut and dried.
Mr. Maaske was married to the mother of his only child around 1981 and then married again in 1990 in a union that only lasted about three months. He was then married to a woman with several children for a few years until 1993. His longest marriage was to a fellow realtor, who also had children, that lasted eight years.
Though not intending to remarry, he said he’s “found the one” and had actually known his current wife for 25 years. “She helped me screw my head on right,” he said.
I asked why he married so many times. “I was a romantic and thought I was going to save the damsel in distress.”
So how does Mr.Maaske square that circle of his marital history and his traditional family values platform?
He said he feels it is best for children to grow up with a mom and dad in a stable household.
“What I would have preferred is to have been married just once and stayed married for the rest of my life. But I was always there for my son and he lived with me as a teenager.”
Concerning his two DUIs, Mr. Maaske does not deny he was drinking and driving but at the time he challenged both arrests in court.
Mr. Maaske got his first DUI in 2010. He said that he had had a few drinks with dinner at Crawdaddy’s and was driving home when he noticed a police car following him for about four miles but didn’t know why. Mr. Maaske also said that a car entering the highway swerved in front of him.
The police report counters that Mr. Maaske’s car braked abruptly behind a slower moving vehicle and was drifting on and off the shoulder. The officer “activated the patrol car’s overhead emergency lights” but the Chevy made no attempt to pull over. The report continued, “When we went through the traffic light at Demaree Street I activated the wigwag headlights. The Chevy still did not respond to the lights……I activated the siren and the Chevy pulled over to the curb and stopped.”
Mr. Maaske said the officer had him take several breathalyzer tests but he was not told why. But according to the police report Mr. Maaske kept doing the test incorrectly despite the officer’s instructions, necessitating multiple attempts.
Mr. Maaske said that before his last two samples he burped and thus registered a .15 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) “because my mouth was full of alcohol.”
The case went to trial and Mr. Maaske said there were two hung juries. But in the third trial Mr. Maaske was convicted because he said the officer changed his story.
Mr. Maaske was finally convicted for his first DUI in April of 2013. A few months later Mr. Maaske was arrested again for drunk driving in July of that same year after leaving Crawdaddy’s.
He fought to suppress the evidence this time because he said he had no intention of driving home. Mr. Maaske said he was just moving his car to where it could be legally parked overnight.
“In fact I had already called a cab,” he said.
The report casts doubt but is not conclusive. The officer wrote “I was travelling at approximately 15 miles per hour when suddenly the Dodge drove out from its parked spot and entered the roadway directly onto my path of travel. In an effort to avoid a collision with the Dodge, I came to a complete stop. The Dodge continued southbound on Bridge Street as it drove past Acequia Avenue. I immediately activated our patrol vehicle’s emergency lights as I attempted to conduct an enforcement stop.”
This time he was arrested for not only a DUI but for driving with a suspended license. Because of the multiple charges he ended up spending 30 days in jail at the Bob Wiley Detention Center and paying a $2273.00 fine.
Mr. Maaske denies he was drunk.
But the report says, “I noticed the driver appeared confused and slow in his movements……I noticed he chewed a mouthful of anti-acids tablets. I asked the driver several times to spit out the contents in his mouth, which he reluctantly did. I noticed he displayed poor balance as he swayed side to side …The driver constantly chewed the final remains of the tablets as I informed the driver of the reason for the stop. I noticed Maaske’s speech was slurred and broken as he immediately admitted to consuming alcohol earlier in evening.”
The officer also noted in his report that Mr. Maaske was driving his company car that “did not have an installed DMV ordered ignition interlock device.” The mandated device was installed in Mr. Maaske’s personal car that he was not driving that night.
His BAC was documented at the police station as .22.
Alcohol also played a role in the TRO filed against him by his third wife.
I asked Mr. Maaske if he had a drinking problem.
He said he did not. He said it never crossed his mind that a few drinks with dinner would be considered as being too drunk to drive.
“I still drink but you won’t see me drunk in public. In fact you won’t see me drunk–period. I will have one or two drinks and I’m done.”
As for his liens, collections, small claims, and fraud cases, there were too many to properly examine and render an educated verdict. Some cases he won and some he lost. Let’s just say the legal documents didn’t always jive with Mr. Maaske’s explanations.
As for the FPPC investigation, it is looking into a complaint that states, “The candidate filed his forms with the Tulare County Registrar of Voters on October 17, 2019 yet was soliciting and directing where to send funds on Facebook on October 1, 3, 11, and the 15.”
Mr. Maaske said that it is not illegal to ask people if they will support your campaign if and when you decide to run. In fact, “Somebody had to have hacked into the Facebook account of my wife because one of the pieces of evidence used was a snapshot of her private Facebook posts.”
He said he and his wife contacted Facebook but that the company would not investigate it.
The stories surrounding his DUIs and multiple suits don’t mesh, but concerning his marriages I found his story compatible with the legal documents. I was impressed that some of the women were older than him and that he seemed to genuinely want to financially support their kids. And he did support them.
Though his drinking must have played a factor in his marital turmoil, he isn’t that kind of jerk who needs a piece of arm candy or who has to date a younger woman. Mr. Maaske is very well liked by his staff, has a huge group of friends, and a devoted group of followers who plan on voting for him.
I do not doubt that he was asked to run for supervisor. And that says a lot about the kind of person he is. With Mr. Maaske, his failed marriages and DUIs seemed to be more of a case of bad judgment than anything malevolent.
And therein lies the problem.
Mr. Maaske is asking the voters of District 3 to trust his judgment in handling our tax dollars and making our county’s most important decisions when he hasn’t shown good judgment throughout his adult life.
In addition, like his complicated past, he has a complicated relationship with the truth.
I don’t have time in this column to nail down every “misunderstanding” and exaggeration. I have deadlines.
But one example is that Mr. Maaske purposely misled me during our first interview in December 2019 by implying he only had one DUI.
His campaign materials more than imply that he is endorsed by Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward. But both elected officials have endorsed Ms. Shuklian for Tulare County Supervisor.
And he outright lied on his campaign flyers, and to the Visalia Times-Delta, that former State Senator Andy Vidak’s endorsed him for supervisor.
Mr. Vidak sent me a text confirming, “I endorsed Larry Micari in District 1. I did not endorse in District 3.”
Putting all this aside, District 3 encompasses Visalia, which tends to be more moderate than the rest of the county. So I asked Mr. Maaske if an ultraconservative could win the race.
“The silent majority will come forward and vote for me,” he said.
Visalia might very well have a conservative silent majority that feels beaten into silence by liberals. And maybe they have been waiting for their knight in shining armor to fight their battles.
Mr. Maaske is not a perfect man nor has he ever claimed to be. But is the silent majority going to find their knight in shining armor in candidate Maaske?