A California state assemblyman plans to stage a protest outside the governor’s mansion next week to demand that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is to be honored at luncheon there Aug. 26, ensure the release of a U.S. Marine held captive in Mexico.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who recently lost in a bid to become the Republican nominee in the gubernatorial election in November, declined an invitation to the luncheon and assailed Gov. Jerry Brown for hosting the luncheon in honor of the Mexican president.
"I am writing to decline your luncheon invitation,” read the letter Donnelly sent Brown, which the assemblyman made public, “and to express my deep disappointment that you would entertain the president of a nation that is holding an active-duty U.S. Marine captive."
Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi has said that he was headed to dinner in San Ysidro on March 31 when he mistakenly wound up at a border crossing in Tijuana.
"I was going to call them after I drove off the exit, but I never got off the exit, I blew right past it," he was quoted as telling the U-T San Diego newspaper in an interview from jail. “I wasn’t paying attention, thinking I had way farther to go. I ended up in Mexico with no way to turn around."
He said Mexican authorities found three guns inside the pick-up truck he had recently driven to California in a recent move from Florida to San Diego.
He was jailed and is being held in a federal penitentiary in Tecate without bail.
In his letter to Brown, Donnelly also took issue with the governor’s recent trip to Mexico and what he said was the governor’s failure to raise the issue of Tahmooressi's release.
"How you could visit Mexico and not publicly demand the release of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, is beyond me,” Donnelly said. “You had a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership by taking a stand for a California citizen that has put himself in harm’s way for our freedom."
The letter continued: “I know that my absence may distress you, but it may comfort you to know that I’ll be standing outside leading a protest, doing the job you should have done as the highest elected official in California: demanding the release of one of our own, our Marine, Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.