A California congresswoman whose late husband campaigned for the sympathy vote after a drunk driver hit them hired a serial hit-and-run drunk driver who ended up killing a young woman in a drunken accident.
Raymond Victor Morua, a district representative for Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara, hit and mortally injured 27-year-old Mallory Rae Dies late last week. After fleeing the scene, Morua hit a palm tree and blew a .17 percent alcohol level — twice the legal limit. Morua continued driving and was followed by witnesses who implored him to return to the scene of the crash.
After lingering for five days, Dies was taken off life support and died Wednesday afternoon. Morua has been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death, Santa Barbara officials told Noozhawk.com, a local news site in the American Riviera.
Capps finally fired Morua after he was arrested in the horrific accident.
Capps hired Morua in October 2011 despite an extensive criminal record from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, which included previous DUI convictions, a hit-and-run charge from 2006, and embezzlement charges.
Morua had been convicted of grand theft by embezzlement, a misdemeanor, against the Goleta K-Mart in March 2011. Capps hired him first as a constituent liaison in October 2011 and then promoted him to district representative in November 2012.
Ironically, Lois Capps’s now deceased husband Walter won his first election to Congress at least partially due to a sympathy vote after Walter and Lois Capps were hit head on by a drunk driver in 1996.
“Sympathy from the accident and Capps’ slow, painful recovery from numerous fractures and internal injuries have injected an unusual note into one of California’s most closely watched House races, featuring two polar opposites locked in a rematch of a 1994 race that almost ended in a dead heat,” wrote the San Francisco Chronicle at the time. The paper said Walter Capps “benefited from a steady stream of local media coverage that any politician would envy.”
Walter Capps and his wife Lois, who suffered bruises and cuts during the crash, threw a press conference after he got out of the hospital. Here is the description from the San Francisco Chronicle:
“I never want to forget what it’s like to go through the world in a wheelchair,” said the donnish Capps, who appeared even more philosophical than he usually is. “I would never wish for a car accident like this. But I have learned from it… Love and caring for one another is what is at the core of what links us.”
Capps described his injuries, which included severe fractures to the right arm, wrist and left knee; internal bleeding; and cuts and bruises.
Lois Capps has been soft on drunk drivers in the past. In 2002, she voted against a bill that would have it illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol at land border ports of entry. The bill would have allowed the Immigration and Naturalization Service to test drivers for drugs and alcohol if they are suspected of driving under the influence.
In 2012 Capps also worked to help a Guatemalan illegal immigrant at the University of California-Santa Barbara stay in the country after she was arrested and convicted of driving under the influence.
Capps’ office did not reply to requests for comment and directed The Daily Caller to a statement that Capps’ press secretary, Chris Meagher, made to the Santa Barbara Press.
“While Raymond excelled in his duties as a district representative and was a valued member of the staff, his actions that led to this tragedy are inexcusable,” Meagher said. “The congresswoman expects all those who work for her and on behalf of the people of the Central Coast to behave responsibly and professionally at all times.”
The “office does not as a routine matter perform criminal background checks,” Meagher told the paper.