POLITICS

Dale Peterson Arrested After Restroom Break, Charged With Shoplifting

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2011 file photo, rancher Dale Peterson, of Birmingham, Ala., speaks with supporters at the Conservati
FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2011 file photo, rancher Dale Peterson, of Birmingham, Ala., speaks with supporters at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan is hiring another rival from the 2010 campaign, and this one is famous for his campaign ad. McMillan is bringing Shelby County businessman Dale Peterson on board to serve as his confidential assistant at an annual salary of $72,686, Deputy Commissioner Brett Hall said. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Dale Peterson, a former Republican candidate for Alabama agriculture commissioner known for an ad hitting "thugs and criminals" that "don't give a rip," says he will attempt to get a shoplifting charge dismissed.

Peterson was stopped by employees at a Wal-Mart after taking a shopping cart of beer and paper towels past the store's cash registers without paying. He claims he was rushing to the bathroom, not trying to steal beer.

Peterson was arrested Oct. 15 on a charge of third-degree theft of property, the AP reports:

Peterson, 67, said he and his wife, Kathy, had friends coming over to watch a football game, and he went to pick up supplies. He said he got ready to check out with less than $40 worth of merchandise, but he had to go to the restroom badly. “I had to go when I went in the store,” he said.

Peterson said he rolled his shopping cart past the cash registers, parked it outside the restroom, and got stopped by store security when he emerged from the restroom. He said he never left the store, and he didn’t know it was considered shoplifting “once you pass the cash registers.”

Peterson lost the 2010 primary election for Alabama agriculture commissioner but stayed involved with politics thanks to the popularity of his campaign ads. He riffed on his "thugs and criminals" ad after finishing third in the primary, endorsing his former rival John McMillion in the general election.

The AP reports Peterson is again blaming "thugs and criminals," this time for spreading word about his arrest to keep him from another political run.

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