The theme of California gubernatorial candidate John Cox's campaign is "Beauty and the Beast"—with himself as the "beast" and Gov. Gavin Newsom as the "beauty"—and animal welfare groups are concerned about the actual beast he has made campaign appearances with. In a lawsuit filed this week, the Animal Protection and Rescue League accuses the Republican of illegally taking Tag, a 1,000-pound Kodiak bear, to a San Diego event, Courthouse News reports. The group, which alleges the animal is "drugged and abused," is seeking a court order banning Cox from using Tag in more campaign events, reports Fox 5. The group says the use of the bear violates San Diego's municipal code. Cox also brought the bear to a campaign event in Sacramento.
The lawsuit argues that holding public events with a bear puts the public at risk. "Defendants do not put up any barriers between the 1,000-pound bear and the public at their events," the lawsuit states, noting that the "electrified wire" the campaign said it used was not enough to stop the bear, and "defendants later admitted the wire was not even electrified as claimed." Cox, who lost to Newsom in a landslide in 2018, is challenging the governor in a recall election expected later this year. In a statement, press secretary Anthony Ramirez did not disclose whether Tag will make more campaign appearances, but said the "establishment is running scared from the bear because they don’t like that we’re going to make the big beastly changes California needs." (Read more California stories.)