Not sure if I wanted to write a column about this. I was rather tempted to let readers judge for themselves the absurdity of Kevin P. Rice’s CalCoastNews column in which he latches onto the #MeToo movement as a “victim” of District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill. Regardless of what happens in the District 3 race, I think it’s important to take into consideration the obscene and wholly unnecessary chaos that’s constantly being injected into our local elections and who is behind it.
I’m not going to dignify his ambiguously worded allegations and give him any more reason to play “martyr.” Last week, I wrote a column that touched on his lengthy record of misconduct, which makes his #MeToo column all the more stunning and sad. I don’t need to go over that record again. There’s a lot of projection going on that not only makes him a hypocrite, but also a disturbed individual in dire need of a psychiatric evaluation.
As I wrote above, I wasn’t going to write a column about his pathetic defense, but as someone who was targeted by one of his vulgar robocalls five years ago, I feel a moral obligation to talk about my experiences and the experiences of others who endured his harassment.
Around February 22, 2015, I was just returning from a Rotary Club presidents‑elect training seminar (PETS) when Morro Bay residents began receiving a robocall, accusing me of being a “vindictive liar” who made crude remarks to an unnamed woman, referred to citizens as “dumb,” and discussed purchasing a gun. The call falsely portrayed me as a young, vulgar psychopath with a vindictive and violent disdain for residents.
When the robocall was sent out, I was president-elect of the Eco Rotary Club of Morro Bay and just returned from leadership training in Los Angeles. Honestly, I wanted to transition away from the politics that I was known for covering out of concern that I was becoming too involved in the partisan rancor. I couldn’t in good conscience continue to spend my time constantly scrutinizing the misinformation and disinformation coming out the same circles Rice was involved in. It was exhausting and at times unproductive. After he was publicly conspiring with self-styled “government watchdog” Julie Tacker to smear my reputation on Facebook, an anonymous postcard was sent to Morro Bay residents in November 2014, referencing me as a “reprobate.” The postcard urged residents to call the City of Morro Bay to complain about me targeting private citizens (I criticized a few private citizens from Los Osos, not Morro Bay, for comments they made at a SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting). At the time, I was serving on Morro Bay’s Recreation & Parks Commission. After seeing the postcard and speaking with Rotary Club board members, I decided it was in everyone’s best interest for me to set my focus elsewhere.
But after the robocall happened, I was hit with an inescapable stigma that made it untenable for me to serve in any leadership role. After having discussions with Rotary members, I voluntarily stepped down from Rotary. And when residents complained about receiving the same robocall multiple times, I stepped down from the Recreation & Parks Commission in hopes the calls would stop, which they eventually did. Then I was fired from my job for reasons my employer refused to disclose.
Meanwhile, CalCoastNews published an article that called me a “government troll” and published the defamatory robocall allegations as fact. Using the robocall and the article as fodder, Tacker coordinated with the Los Osos residents I criticized and submitted false criminal complaints to law enforcement. Law enforcement didn’t act on these complaints and I was not contacted. In fact, law enforcement helped me piece together the puzzle by revealing Tacker repeatedly complained to law enforcement over Facebook posts I made, which criticized her “watchdog” activity and conduct as a formerly elected official with the Los Osos Community Services District.
The robocall led to a bizarre and troubling chain of events: from a family acquaintance allegedly penning an editorial attacking my family (she denied writing it) to receiving harassing and threatening messages on social media. Even when I wrote a column defending myself in 2015, a private investigator for CalCoastNews confronted, harassed and threatened my father at my parents’ home. None of this would’ve happened if Rice didn’t send out that robocall. And I probably wouldn’t have written my book if that robocall didn’t happen.
It’s patently offensive for Rice to play the #MeToo card. He’s not a victim. Not only would be resort to impersonating the Ku Klux Klan and denigrate a candidate’s sexuality to smear his political adversary, Rice would spend a considerable amount of resources to attack a private citizen for questioning and criticizing conduct he now tearfully admits to doing.
HER LAST NAME WAS RICE
In 2012, Rice announced he was running for a seat on the San Luis Obispo City Council. Rice had ordered several yard signs for his short-lived campaign (he abruptly withdrew in May 2013) and had several of them placed in the front yard of his house. A young girl noticed the signs and thought they were free to take. I’m withholding her name. She took one as a souvenir because her last name was also Rice. Moments later, Rice reportedly stumbled out of his front door with a camcorder and yelled, “I’m going to get you, bitch.”
“I thought he was going to kill me,” the young girl told me in 2015. “I was running as fast as I can.”
Part of the confrontation and chase was captured in a video Rice provided to CalCoastNews. Neither CalCoastNews nor Rice made any attempt to blur or censor her face. Though he denied appearing in the video provided, footage clearly identified Rice’s San Luis Obispo residence and the video was uploaded from his personal YouTube channel “SLOBoe.”
Two of her friends would later corroborate her story to me. They described the humiliation she felt for being chased down the street by an older man, being featured on CalCoastNews and attacked by online commenters. The woman’s family was reportedly horrified by what transpired.
Rice attempted to make the case that the young girl was stealing his signs as part of a political conspiracy, but his claims didn’t gather traction. After being pressed about the incident by an online commenter on CalCoastNews, the website removed their article. The video was later removed from Rice’s account.
THE LANGFORD-RICE SAGA
I’ve touched on Rice’s obsessive hatred of Oceano Dunes off-roading critic Dr. Nell Langford several times. I encourage readers to check out my book for every blow-by-blow from the conflict between Rice and Langford. I think it’s crucial to recognize Rice’s decade-long harassment of Langford from the abstract. The video shown above is a simple example of the deep and disturbing resentment he had for Langford.
A simple Google search on Kevin P. Rice and Nell Langford uncovers the extent of his abusive behavior. What started as sparring letters to the editor between the two turned into a cornucopia of angry posts Rice left on off-roading message boards about Langford — with one post placing the word “death” next to her name. These aggressive acts would escalate into Rice allegedly stalking and harassing her. He would expand his purview to attacking Langford’s allies and simpaticos alike. In fact, when former Tribune columnist Bob Cuddy wrote about Rice’s attacks on Langford in 2010, he was threatened by Rice with a lawsuit. What Rice didn’t realize was that Cuddy had the receipts. And so do I.
Rice believes the best way to discredit a political adversary’s message is to attack them personally, professionally and financially. As he stated to me personally, in news articles and online comments, Rice believes that people who publicly support his adversaries and their positions are “fair game.” And When he’s confronted about his conduct, he relies on two defenses:
- It’s his duty as “activist” to raise awareness about his adversaries
- He’s left with no choice but to resort to creative measures to rage against the machine
And when he doesn’t like people criticizing his record, Rice goes after them too with the same ferocity as his political foes, even if documentation to substantiate said criticism exists.
The argument can be made that public figures and elected officials should expect to be the recipient of the same kind of mudslinging that he dedicated over a decade to doing. But Kevin P. Rice expanded his scope to targeting private citizens and interfering in our local elections.
District Attorney Dan Dow can show impartiality to Rice, one of his most ardent supporters of his 2018 re-election campaign, by charging him with a misdemeanor. That is the least he could do. But if Dow wants to make a statement and take the reins as lawful-minded District Attorney, he could review everything Rice has done to others and charge him with something that sticks — something Rice can’t expunge from his criminal record. It would be something his employer, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, could see. After all, Rice is unrepentant and will continue to harass people by sinister means.
Justice cannot come any sooner.
Aaron Ochs is the author of “Defamers: How Fake News Terrorized a Community & Those Who Dared to Fight It,” a nonfiction uncovering the defamatory, deceptive and criminal practices of online tabloid CalCoastNews. Click here to subscribe to his Patreon, check out exclusive news features and more.