Then, a child pornography rap in March of that year ended it all.
Based on allegations made by Clauder's wife and son and pornographic images found on Clauder's personal computer, the District Attorney's Office charged Clauder with felony possession of child pornography.
Stories appeared in newspapers. Clauder's career in politics was over and his reputation ruined.
From the beginning, Clauder maintained his innocence, saying the allegations were trumped up by his estranged wife and estranged son so his wife could gain leverage in a pending divorce case.
Clauder spent 50 days in jail and has spent roughly $40,000 over the last three years trying to clear his name. He paid $20,000 to El Segundo-based Elluma Discovery, a computer forensics company that examined Clauder's computer hard drive and prepared an information-dense 6-page report that helped vindicate Clauder of his criminal charge.
On Sept. 28, after more than three years of legal battle, Clauder was vindicated. San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Maryanne Choi, presented with the new evidence from Elluma Discovery and additional witness statements, requested the case be dismissed "in the interest of justice." Judge Glenn Yabuno granted the request.
Choi did not respond to a request for an interview.
Clauder said he retained the services of Elluma Discovery in July. It took roughly a month for computer forensics expert Sheryl Katz to examine the same computer hard drive the sheriff's High Tech Crime Detail examined and produce her report, which revealed:
Lana Clauder and Stancher told authorities that Sam Clauder's access to his computer ended when he moved out of the home on April 16, 2008, and that he didn't have a key to the house, according to Katz's report.
Lana Clauder and her son also told investigators they had minimal use of the computer after Sam Clauder moved out, but the plethora of evidence showing extensive and daily use of the computer proved otherwise, said Clauder's attorney, Rajan Maline.
"It appears (Clauder's) son was accessing these images and manipulating them, and even deleted some of them prior to the computer being seized," Maline said. "We know that because we found the images."
When asked how such evidence could have gotten overlooked or if investigators and Choi exercised proper due diligence, Lee declined to comment.
"As far as discussing the specific evidence or forensic analysis of this case, or any case for that matter, we have an ethical obligation not to discuss these matters," Lee said.
Maline said investigators typically don't investigate how or why such content is on computers.
"It puts the techniques of law enforcement into question," Maline said.
Reached by telephone, Clauder's estranged wife, who now goes by her maiden name of Pittman, denied fabricating the allegations against her husband. She said she merely reported what her son said he had found on his father's computer.
"If Mr. Clauder didn't do it then I'm glad he wasn't prosecuted and the case was dismissed," Pittman said.
When asked if she felt her son could have planted the evidence, she said she didn't know.
"I can't comment on my son," Pittman said.
Stancher denies having done any such thing, and said he never used his father's computer for anything more than writing papers for school.
He is adamant that his father's account was password protected, despite findings by both Katz and sheriff's investigators that proved otherwise.
"It doesn't make any sense to me," said Stancher, 28, who said he changed his name from Samuel Clauder III on Christmas Eve 2009 to sever ties to his father's legacy.
When pressed with questions on Katz's findings, Stancher declined to answer in detail, saying it would require him to go into details about his father he didn't want to.
"I feel I'm risking the safety of me and my mother. My father is a vindictive and dangerous man," Stancher said. "I don't want to talk about those things."
For Clauder, he's not sure where the road will take him now. He says he's pondering civil lawsuits against the county and his wife.
He doubts he will ever be able to have a career in politics due to the controversy that has followed him over the years.
"Where do I go to get my life back?" Clauder said.
Reach Joe via email, call him at 909-386-3874, or find him on Twitter @SBCountyNow.