G. Wayne Eggleston was virtually unknown to Orange County residents until Dec. 28, when the San Clemente councilmember told Los Angeles Timesreporter Garret Therolf, “I wouldn't want to stop in Stanton, much less patrol it.” The remark drew laughter and condemnation from county politicos, but that wasn't the end of it. Eggleston then sought to politicize his battle. He told the conservative OCBlog on Dec. 29 that not only did Therolf misquote him, but that he learned the following lesson: “Do not cooperate with LA Times reporters as they are not trustworthy. I have dealt with Orange County Register reporters and they are of the highest quality.”
The spinning didn't stop there. On Jan. 3, Eggleston told Registercolumnist Frank Mickadeit that what he really told Therolf was, “Lt. Hunt would find it difficult to patrol any other city, including Stanton, after he's received such tremendous support in San Clemente.” Six days later, however, Eggleston sent the Times a letter to the editor apologizing to Therolf and Stanton and essentially admitting that he's a big, fat liar.
The episode still has Therolf scratching his head. “He hasn't really explained why he initially said that he was misquoted,” he told the Weekly.
But for many longtime residents of San Clemente, the Eggleston mess was business as usual. The three-term councilmember has made many enemies in Orange County's village by the sea for his support of regulations that would ban residents in the city's Shorecliffs neighborhood from building a second story on their homes. Opponents say l'affair Therolf is part of Eggleston's history of making outlandish statements, then skulking back and apologizing after encountering resistance.
“He will do, say and exploit anything to achieve his goals,” says Rick Collins, a San Clemente resident and vocal opponent of Eggleston. “Deliberate lies followed by empty apologies are his standard.”
Collins offers as an example an incident involving Eggleston and the Register's San Clemente community weekly, the San Clemente Sun Post. On Sept. 7 of last year, Eggleston told Sun Postcolumnist John Hall that he received death threats. Hall's column mentioned that the main suspect was a Shorecliffs resident who opposed his ban. But when pressed by residents to identify the culprit, Eggleston instead blamed Hall.
“I had no prior knowledge that the article was to be written,” Eggleston told a San Clemente resident in an e-mail obtained by the Weekly. “There were inaccuracies in that particular article.”
Hall disagrees. “Wayne sometimes doesn't like to admit when he says something,” he says. “He has a habit of doing that.” He laughs at Eggleston's claim that he didn't know Hall was doing an article on him. “God, I quote him all the time on a bunch of silly things.”
Asked by the Weekly to explain why he lied about Therolf and smeared the Times, Eggleston refused. “No, I've been beat up enough,” he said. “I sent a letter to the LA Times. That should be the end of it.”
Eggleston then offered to go off the record to explain his side, but the Weeklyrefused.