UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz on Tuesday resigned his post as Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem, ending a tumultuous political run he said ended in attacks against his family.
Ortiz, who frequently espouses QAnon conspiracy theories online and is a devout supporter of former president Donald Trump, was elected to his position this past November by over 42,000 votes. He would have become his home city’s mayor in 2022 after current Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr’s term ended. But during a city council meeting, he announced his resignation effective June 1, citing “hostility and judgement” he’d encountered since his swearing in.
“Being a public figure, nothing is new,” Ortiz said, reading from a prepared statement. “However, the sole focus of character assassination each and every week, with multiple news stories and leaked personal information, all of which were focused to slander and defame my name. … As of recent, the attacks against me have moved to involve my family. I now feel their safety is in danger. To put it simply, this job isn’t working for me.”
Ortiz’s resignation came at the council’s first in-person meeting in 2021. In March, five council members voted to keep meetings online when Ortiz said he wouldn’t wear a mask to in-person meetings, per the Orange County Register. Ortiz’s refusal to wear a mask was one of several complaints that spurred a motion to remove him from his position. After dozens of his supporters turned out to decry the council before the vote, council members elected to table the issue.
But in April, Ortiz was again under fire when it was revealed that he had in February filed to receive unemployment benefits from the state of California while he was still receiving his full-time pay as Mayor Pro Tem. Carr told NBC4 she was concerned Ortiz had committed fraud.
Ortiz, who has said he believes the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax, has clashed with Huntington Beach residents and business owners over his refusal to wear a mask, once refusing to wear one at a food drive. His sons Jesse and Journey were sent home from middle school this past month for not wearing masks in opposition to guidelines. Ortiz’s girlfriend, former UFC ring card girl Amber Miller, appeared to cite a religious exemption to not wearing masks and advised followers on her Instagram account that “the mental health of your children is so much more important than following these guidelines. It is your right to breathe freely.”
Ortiz on Tuesday cast his decision as one to protect his family.
“I tried as hard as I possibly could, but when my children’s safety becomes a matter, I’m a father and I’m going to protect my children,” he said. “I did as best as I could possibly do, and I hope I didn’t let anybody down.”
Ortiz, 46, retired from active competition several times, but returned in 2018 and 2019 for one-offs against longtime rival Chuck Liddell and Alberto Rio. One year ago, he claimed to be in the running for a celebrity boxing match with Mike Tyson. But he ultimately pivoted back to politics, where he immediately stood out for his outspoken views.
Below is a video of Ortiz’s resignation.
Huntington Beach Mayor Pro-Tem & former #MMA champion #TitoOrtiz just resigned from the council. He posted lots of #Qanon conspiracy stuff on social media. He sent his kids to school without masks during the mandate. But said he resigned due to political attacks & family’s safety pic.twitter.com/cnkGozdlav
— Sara Sidner (@sarasidnerCNN) June 2, 2021