Prominent Bay Area political strategist Nathan Ballard is facing domestic violence and child abuse charges following an alleged attack on his wife and a young child.
The Napa County District Attorney’s Office filed a two-count felony complaint in Superior Court on Thursday alleging child abuse involving willful cruelty to a child with possible injury or death and domestic violence with a minor injury, according to Assistant District Attorney Paul Gero.
Ballard was arrested Oct. 20, two days after Napa County sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of the alleged attack at the Carneros Resort and Spa. After turning himself in, Ballard declined to answer questions or make a statement to detectives and was booked into Napa County Jail, according to sheriff’s spokesman Henry Wofford. He was released the same day after posting $75,000 in bail.
The charges stem from an allegation that on the evening of Oct. 17, Ballard charged at and pushed a woman the District Attorney’s Office identified as his spouse into a glass door, leaving her with a bump on the back of her head. According to the Sheriff’s Office report, the woman alleged that Ballard was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and that as he pushed her, he also fell, cutting his nose and forehead when he hit the floor.
He then allegedly took a pillow, placed it over a 4-year-old girl “and attempted to suffocate the child with the pillow,” Wofford said. “The adult victim was able to remove the child victim from the room and locked herself and another child (a 3-year-old boy) in a separate room,” Wofford said.
The woman called the Sheriff’s Office the following morning and by the time deputies arrived, Ballard was gone, according to Wofford.
Online court records show a restraining order was granted to Ballard’s wife on Nov. 11.
“I am confident that my client, Nathan Ballard, will be fully acquitted of these charges after the District Attorney’s Office has a chance to review the facts and learn all sides of the story,” said attorney Anthony Brass in a written statement.
“Nate knows that he is not perfect, but he is facing his own challenges head-on. After nearly eight years of continuous sobriety, Nate resumed drinking in April, after his father died,” Brass said. “He is now clean and sober again, and he is currently in a residential recovery program to deal with his drinking problem in a responsible, comprehensive manner.”
Ballard is a well-known Democratic strategist who was Gov. Gavin Newsom’s communications director when Newsom was mayor of San Francisco. He is the founder and CEO of The Press Shop, a public relations agency, and lists past clients as including John Kerry, Wesley Clark, the Democratic National Committee, the California Democratic Party and the California Labor Federation.
He also sits on the board of The Presentation Project, Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s nonprofit “dedicated to ensuring all humans achieve their full potential, unencumbered by limiting gender norms.” Siebel Newsom is Gavin Newsom’s wife.
Ballard is scheduled to be arraigned in Napa County Superior Court at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 29.
-By Kiley Russell, Bay City News Foundation