Sam Clauder of OC Democratic Party Past Busted with 174 Pounds of Pot

A blast from the OC Weekly and Orange County political past has reemerged in Texas, where he accused of smuggling nearly 200 pounds of marijuana.

Samuel Herschel Clauder II—better known around these parts as Sam Clauder—was a former reporter who worked on campaigns for Democrats (or more precisely, in Orange County, losing Democrats) dating back to 1971, he once told me.

He first popped up in the Weekly in R. Scott Moxley’s initial coverage for our then-toddler publication on bitter/defeated ex-Congressman “B-1” Bob Dornan. While Dornan was pointing to irregularities in voter registration when it came to Loretta Sanchez, the Democrat who beat him, Moxley was quoting Clauder saying the same thing about Republican registrations in the same race, which of course were being totally ignored by a special congressional committee, the Orange County Register and everyone else who did not invite us to their parties. 

At the time, Clauder was a so-called bounty hunter hired by Orange County Democrats to get unregistered voters registered. At the end of the same decade—that would be the 1990s—Clauder turned up in reporting by yours truly on Californians for Industrial Renewal (CAIR), a group he headed that sought the legalization of hemp for commercial and industrial uses. A cousin of marijuana that does not get those who ingest it high, hemp has gone on to be found in everything from clothing to breakfast cereal sold legally in the state. 

In the 2000s, Clauder moved from Orange County to San Bernardino County, where he was also enmeshed in Democratic politics. He aligned himself with the inland county’s Democratic Central Committee, landed a job as an aide to Rep. Joe Baca (D-Fontana) and became an adjunct professor of journalism at Cal Poly Pomona.

But in 2009, Clauder was arrested for alleged felony possession of child pornography after his estranged wife and son reported finding images on Clauder’s personal computer. Despite maintaining his innocence, Clauder spent 50 days in jail. It took the following three years to clear his name, with the help of an El Segundo computer forensics company that turned up evidence Clauder’s son planted the porn. A San Bernardino County judge cleared dismissed the case in September 2012.

Clauder went on to sue San Bernardino County and its sheriff’s department alleging retaliation, conspiracy, malicious prosecution and civil rights violations. He was due in court on that case this week but then …

Hello, Texas. According to the Lone Star State’s Department of Public Safety, Clauder was driving a 2016 Chrysler minivan on Highway 287 near Iowa Park, Texas, around 4 p.m. March 21, Feb. 22, when he was pulled over by state troopers for an alleged traffic violation. The trooper claims to have smelled marijuana and asked Clauder if he could search the van, a request the driver denied, the agency states.

A drug-sniffing dog was then brought in, and that led to the discovery of a small amount of hashish, which Clauder is said to have claimed was for his personal use. But then cops say they found duffle bags in the back of the van stuffed with 174 pounds of marijuana bricks with a street value of more than $1 million.

Clauder, who now resides in Arcata San Bernardino, was booked into Wichita County jail on suspicion of felony possession of marijuana.

Texas officials claim to be seeing more of trafficking on Highway 287 since Colorado legalized personal use of marijuana. For Clauder’s sake, one hopes he can prove someone planted something illegal on him again or, barring that, convince a judge he was ferrying harmless hemp.

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