Dale Peterson, the Alabama Republican best known for his viral campaign videos railing against “thugs and criminals,” is calling his second shoplifting arrest in five months “so bizarre and so idiotic” and is suggesting his political enemies are somehow behind his woes.
“I can tell you right now on a stack of Bibles, Dale Peterson is not a thief,” he told The Daily Caller in his first interview since being arrested Wednesday in Birmingham.
Peterson confirmed to TheDC that he was taken to jail after shopping Wednesday afternoon at a Sam’s Club. Store security accused him of stealing after he ate a handful of cashews from a jar and then returned the nuts to a shelf an hour-and-a-half later after deciding not to purchase them.
He maintains that he had simply forgotten he had eaten from the jar.
“Maybe I’m getting too damn old, getting CRS disease or whatever,” the colorful Peterson explained, using the acronym for the phrase, “can’t remember shit.”
“I genuinely did not think about it when I put those peanuts back over there on that shelf,” he said.
Peterson argues his arrest over “22 cents worth of peanuts” is “unbelievable” because he tried to pay the store for the nuts after realizing his mistake. He also says he spent over $900 in the store that day.
“The whole jar was $13 dollars, but I had a little handful out there,” Peterson explained. “Never opened them again. And if you want to break it down, it’s about 22 cents worth of peanuts.”
Here’s Peterson’s version of events, as he described during a long phone call with TheDC:
— What he was doing at the store: “Kathy doesn’t do any shopping,” he said of his wife. “I do all the grocery buying and that. I go over to Sam’s, go in, pay $750 on my account, grab a buggy, and I go over to the counter and get my vitamins, come back around there and get peanuts — cashews — we always get those.”
— Why he ate the nuts while in the store: “I said, ‘Hell, I’m going to buy these things anyway,’ so I opened them, got me a handful, closed them back up real tight, sealed them and was munching on them.”
— What he did in the store for the next hour-and-a-half: “I was going down through there, eating little chicken strips that they give away or some yogurt. Sometimes you get through, you’re full, you’ve had lunch there.”
— Why he returned the nuts: “I had my buggy full, and I’m walking up to the cash register. And I look down at the buggy, and I’m seeing if I had all my items, and I said, ‘Ah, hell, we don’t need peanuts,’ so I reached in there, and I put them back. And it never dawned on me an hour-and-a-half earlier I took a handful out and ate them. It just didn’t. It just slipped my mind.”
— How the accusation went down: “I paid $750 on my account when I first walked in the door. My monthly account was due. And then I bought, I think, $155 dollars worth of stuff. Then I walked outside, the guy said, ‘You didn’t pay for those peanuts that are in your stomach.’ I said, ‘I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.'”
— When he realized what was going on: “We started walking up to the security there. And I said, ‘Oh, my god, I do know.’ And it hit me that I opened it in the store right there and ate a handful of peanuts. When I put them back an hour-and-a-half later, I had forgotten — I hadn’t even thought about — that I had opened them an hour-and-a-half earlier.”
— How he tried paying the store for the nuts: “I said, ‘For 22 cents worth of peanuts, you’re going to call the cops and put me in jail? When I’ll just buy the whole thing from you? Just put it on my account. I’ve got a card worth 10 thousand dollars there.'”
“I did what they said, but this is too coincidental,” Peterson argued.
In October, he was accused of trying to steal two cases of beer from Wal-Mart. According to Peterson, he was falsely accused by police and store employees who didn’t understand that he “just had to pee” and was planning on paying for the beer after he relieved himself in the store bathroom.
“In my 58-years, I’ve never had a blemish. … And then two times in five months, something like this happens?” Peterson said.
He called it peculiar that the news of his arrest was broken on Wednesday so quickly by Cliff Sims, the publisher of the Yellow Hammer Politics website.
“An employee at the Sam’s Club in Hoover confirmed to me this evening that Dale Peterson was arrested in their store today for attempting to steal … CASHEWS?!” Sims wrote. “Yes. Cashews. He was taken to the Hoover City Jail and the Hoover Police later confirmed to me that he was released on bond.”
Peterson said Sims — who is known to be close with Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, a member of the so-called establishment — reported the news before he was even booked in jail Wednesday.
“Maybe I’m paranoid,” Peterson said. “Maybe I’m not.”
“And it wouldn’t surprise me that they would know about this phone call before we get off of it!” he joked.
Peterson argued the “establishment” is after him because, “I tell on them. I point them out, and I shine the spotlight on them.”
Reached by TheDC on Thursday, Sims laughed off the notion: “When other people are busy making a fool of themselves, I try not to interrupt,” he said.
Peterson is worried this new incident will mess things up for him as he fights the last shoplifting arrest. “The lawyer, I talked to him last night. Which makes this a sticky situation because more than likely that would have been dropped. Now how do you get a judge to believe you?”
Asked about whether he will still run for office again, Peterson said he doesn’t know what is in store for him in the future.
“They’re hoping I’ve had enough,” he said of his enemies. “I think this has polarized me more than anything. Right now, I’m in a little shock.”
But one thing Peterson says he’s confident of: he says he doesn’t plan to go back to Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club anytime soon and is going to let his wife do the shopping now.
“She’s going to have to stop being so damn lazy,” Peterson said with a laugh. “She’s going to have to start doing the shopping.”