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Looking for Voter Recommendations? Here are some!

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on May 8, 2018

Absentee ballots should be arriving in voter’s mailboxes starting today for the June 5, 2018 primary election.  Many voters I know ask for advice on who to vote for during election season.  To help them, I publish my Craig’s Picks Voter Recommendations.  Other friends like Nancy Sandoval do as well.  One of the best sources is the site maintained by my good friend Robyn Nordell.  Robyn (like Nancy and I) does painstaking research about candidates and propositions then publishes her recommendations at her web site.  Plus she is very kind to publish my own, Nancy’s and others’ (like some guy named John Moorlach!).  We do not always agree on a particular race or proposition, but we all are pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and limited government.  None of us take any money for “endorsements” or our recommendations for or against any candidate, proposition or measure.

If you would like to see my Voter Recommendations here is a link to Craig’s Pics June 2018 – Final.

I have already chimed in on one aspect of the race for Governor here: Travis Allen – Not So Pro-life!

If you would like to see Robyn Nordell’s web site here is a link to her main page: Robyn Nordell.

If you would like to see Robyn Nordell’s Orange County web site page for her recommendations for Orange County specific races and scroll down for links to my recommendations and others like Nancy Sandoval’s here is the link: Robyn’s Orange County Page.

I encourage all conservative voters to vote in this primary race.  Not voting may allow two Democrats advance to the “Top Two” run off in November for certain races!

Craig Alexander is an attorney at law and a resident of South Orange County.  He practices law in the areas of the California Public Records Act, Office / Commercial Leasing, Insurance Law,  HOA law, Business Law and Litigation.  He can be reached at Craig@craigalexanderlaw.com

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Travis Allen – Not so Pro-Life!

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on April 19, 2018

Assemblyman Travis Allen is one of the candidates for Governor of California (web site).  He and John Cox (web site) are the two major Republican candidates.  Either of them would make a far better Governor for California than any of the Democratic candidates.

However, for people who value a politician’s voting record to see how he or she will vote and act on policy issues in the future (here as Governor of California), Mr. Allen’s voting record on the life issue is not consistent with his alleged “pro-life” campaign trail statements and claims.

On a consistent basis Assemblyman Travis Allen has steadily avoided voting yes or no on many, many bills (legislation and resolutions) in the Assembly that deal with the life (i.e. abortion) issue.  The document I have attached here: Travis Allen 2018 was painstakingly researched and put together by my friend Gina Gleason.  It reveals that Mr. Allen has abstained over and over again on bills on the abortion issue.  As an example from Mrs. Gleason’s list:

AB 569 (Gonzales/Fletcher) The bill prohibits an employer (INCLUDING A CHURCH) from requiring employees to sign a code of conduct that prohibits the employee from having an abortion. The bill was sponsored by NARAL Pro Choice California. (9/14/17) Note: Even Gov. Jerry Brown opposed this bill and it was vetoed. Assemblyman Travis Allen was present but abstained.
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billVotesClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB569

SJR 19 (Jackson) Both the CA Assembly and Senate urged the President and Congress to support access to abortions, including the services provided by Planned Parenthood, and to oppose efforts to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. (5/23/16) Assemblyman Travis Allen was present but abstained.
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billVotesClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SJR19

In addition, Planned Parenthood (the largest provider of abortions in the United States) has twice given Mr. Allen a rating of over 50%: 2014 55% and 2016 67% (to be fair he received a zero rating in 2013, 2015 and 2107).  Here is PP’s web site for its scorecard (also listed on Mrs. Gleason’s document about Mr. Allen).

The life issue was the main public policy issue that motivated me to get involved in politics as an activist many years ago. Therefore Mr. Allen’s voting record on this issue is very important to me and who I decide to vote for in June.  If Mr. Allen is one of the top two candidates out of the June primary and the other top two candidate is a Democrat (none of them have stated they are pro-life) I will certainly vote for him as the better of the two choices.  But for the June primary, I have more than two choices and I will be exercising that choice.

I hope you find this information useful in your voting decision on the race for Governor for the June primary.

Craig P. Alexander, Esq. is an attorney at law who practices law in Dana Point, California.  He can be reached at craig@craigalexanderlaw.com.

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Are We Still A Nation of the Rule of Law? A Serious Question – Part III

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 5, 2018

A few weeks ago I published two posts about the FISA Gate scandal of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice apparently using the false and politically motivated “Steel Dossier” to obtain a FISA warrant on one time Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. Here are links to them: Link 1  & Link 2. At the time of publication the “Nunes” or Republican memo had just been de-classified and released while we were awaiting the Democrats or “Schiff” memo’s release.  The Schiff memo has now been released (with some redactions) and it confirms one thing I stated in my prior posts – the American people deserve to see the entire Carter Page FISA application and the three renewals that were presented to the FISA court.  This has all become too much of a partisan back and forth.

First here is a link to the Schiff Memo: hpsci_redacted_minority_memo.  Then here is a link to an excellent analysis by Andrew McCarthy of the National Review in which he debunks most of the claims made by Adam Schiff and his Democratic friends.

However all of the partisan rankling over the memos does not answer or resolve an extremely important problem – the FBI and the DOJ were apparently willing to break the law and their own rules before a Federal Court Judge (or Judges) to obtain a warrant to surveil (spy on) an American citizen who had been previously part of an opposing political campaign.  As Mr. McCarthy pointed out, the FBI did not need to get a FISA warrant to surveil Mr. Page.  He had previously cooperated with the FBI in a prior investigation of an alleged Russian spy and they could have gone back to him again and asked him about what he knows.  Since he apparently had cooperated and helped them in the past, what did they believe had occurred by 2016 that forestalled their going to Mr. Page again before getting a FISA warrant?  For a full impact / understanding of this read Mr. McCarthy’s article linked above. As Mr. McCarthy explains, this point is very critical and is another reason why the public needs to be allowed to see the application and renewals to the FISA Court.

With the atrocious massacre at the high school in Florida, the school safety and gun control debate this has started and now the President’s trade tariff announcement it is natural for people to have “moved on” from FISA Gate.  But this violation of the 4th Amendment is a critical issue – if law enforcement at the highest level of our country can lie to a Federal Court judge(s) to get a warrant like it did here and it is allowed to go unanswered and unpunished, what is the stop them from doing this again and again and again?

What’s next?  I suspect the next shoe to drop in this scandal will be the report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz.  When will that come out?  I do not know but not fast enough for me.  When it does I will publish a Part IV here.  It would be far better for the country for the FISA application and renewals to be released to the public now.

Craig P. Alexander is an attorney and principal of the Law Offices of Craig P. Alexander in Dana Point, California.  A large part of his legal practice is regarding the California Public Records Act to obtain documents from state and local governments (the state version of the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents from the Federal government).

 

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Are We Still A Nation of the Rule of Law? A Serious Question – Part II

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on February 9, 2018

Yesterday I published a post on the “FISA Gate” scandal with my take on the current situation and why it is so very serious to our Republic.  In today’s post I outline my opinion of what certain people involved in this matter should do to best serve the American people, put maximum light on this situation and restore the American people’s trust in their federal government’s law enforcement agencies.

President Trump:  Unfortunately while several people in this matter deserved to be fired (and maybe more), given the highly charged political environment, if the President fires anyone involved it will fairly or unfairly turn into a firestorm.  Even though he had every right to fire James Comey as FBI director, what he got was a Special Counsel to investigate him.  So the best thing for the President and his team to do is ride this out until all of the facts are on the table.   But speaking of facts, the President and his team should help in any way they can move along any requests for de-classification of information such as the Cater Page FISA application and its renewals.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:  He signed one of the applications for renewal for the FISA warrant on Carter Page. Plus he oversees the Robert Muller investigation.  To put it bluntly Mr. Rosenstein is on the hot seat.  He needs to move heaven and earth to show the American people that his actions in this matter were proper.  This includes getting de-classified whatever documents are necessary to explain his actions (the entire Carter Page FISA application and its renewals would be an ideal start) and he needs to do that now. He took an oath not to President Trump, President Obama or anyone else but to the Constitution, including upholding the 4th Amendment.  Since it appears he may have participated in a violation of the 4th Amendment, the burden is on him to explain himself.  If he is unable or unwilling to do this then he should resign from this position and allow someone else (preferably from the outside of the DOJ) to take his place.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions:  Due to his involvement in the Trump campaign, he has recused himself from the Russia investigation and any investigations of Hillary Clinton.  When he did these recusals they were the right thing to do.  Except for Civil Asset Forfeiture (I am against it and AG Sessions is for it) I am a Jeff Sessions fan.  However, with these revelations of likely illegal activity at the top of the FBI and the DOJ, the situation has changed.  If Mr. Rosenstein will not explain himself or resign, then Mr. Sessions needs to find a way to properly un-rescue himself and conduct his own investigation starting with suspending or firing Mr. Rosenstein.  If he cannot do this, then he needs to resign and allow the President to appoint a new Attorney General – preferably someone not connected to his campaign or the DOJ who will investigate and clean house. Perhaps a state Attorney General who had no connection to the Trump campaign.  After this scandal (plus the Fast and Furious, IRS and the Hillary Clinton scandals just to name a few where the DOJ apparently played politics) the American people deserve to know that their Federal government law enforcement agencies cannot and will not be used by one party in power to spy on the other parties’ campaign or other similar illegal actions.

FBI Director Christopher Wary:  He has been, to date, more in the camp of protecting top FBI brass and helping stonewall Congress on giving them documents.   He needs to restore the people’s confidence in the FBI.  Director Wray has the power to sideline many people inside the FBI who were apparently committing these acts.  It appears he has done that to some degree. Perhaps he is waiting until Inspector General Horowitz’ report is issued before he fires people like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.  But he should at the very least issue a statement that he is indeed waiting for the IG’s report.  Plus that he is personally reviewing not only the Carter Page FISA application and renewals but any FISA applications and renewals that Strzok, Page and some of the other actors inside the FBI worked on over the last two or three years.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller:  Mr. Mueller may be the straight shooter that people like Congressman Trey Goudy says he is but his hiring practices leave a lot to be desired.  Why did he hire so many anti-Trump and pro-Clinton persons from the DOJ and FBI?  Why are so many of them still on his team?  He should replace them now.  But if nothing else, he needs to view this whole “FISA Gate” scandal as a rising of the bar for his investigation and any decisions he may make to charge anyone and especially the President with wrongdoing.  I am not saying President Trump should have the same sweetheart deal Hillary Clinton got.  But if he is going to file charges for “collusion” (which is not a crime) or obstruction of justice, it needs to be an iron clad case.  Otherwise this will only look like a witch hunt.  As a prosecutor his job is not to get convictions but to serve justice. 

The FISA Court Judges:  As an attorney myself (I do not practice criminal law) I know that if any attorney submits to a court a document that is false, especially if it is submitted under penalty of perjury, and the court finds out it is false, that attorney is, to say the least, in trouble.  My hope is that the FISA Court Judges are looking over the FISA applications on Carter Page and any others submitted by the people involved in this scandal to see if the allegations being made are true or not.  If true and the Court was deceived, the Judges should be issuing orders to those involved to come and explain themselves to them under pain of being found in contempt of court or guilty of perjury.  If any of the DOJ attorneys mislead the Court, I would hope the Court would take strong action.  In addition, I would hope the FISA Court Judges would find a way to communicate to the American people that they recognize the serious issues that have been given light as a result of this scandal and are taking steps to address that.

A hallmark of our system of government is liberty and freedom from government coercion and control. The 4th Amendment exists to protect American citizens from “wiretapping”, surveillance, spying on their activities, etc. unless the authorities have presented a Judge with proper and verified evidence of likely criminal wrongdoing by that citizen to justify issuing a warrant.  This includes when foreign nationals may be involved.

The critical issue here is one party then in power using law enforcement tools to spy on its political opponents (and maybe beyond them as well) on the basis of evidence that was false and paid for by their favored candidate’s political campaign.  If as we are told by Mr. Nunes and his fellow Republicans, this occurred, this is not just an injustice to President Trump and his supporters, but to all citizens.  Americans deserve to know all of the facts and not via the lens of partisans on either side.

Release the FISA court applications and renewal applications – all of them!  And now! 

Craig P. Alexander is an attorney and principal of the Law Offices of Craig P. Alexander in Dana Point, California.  A large part of his legal practice is regarding the California Public Records Act to obtain documents from state and local governments (the state version of the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents from the Federal government).

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Are We Still A Nation of the Rule of Law? A Serious Question – Part I

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on February 8, 2018

Is our country still a nation of the rule of law or are we now under the rule of men? This is now a very serious question facing the American people. At the beginning of our Republic the Founders instituted the U.S. Constitution with the original 10 amendments. One of them is the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure. It states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue,     but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

One of the main reasons the Founders insisted on the inclusion of the 4th Amendment was to be rid of the British practice of issuing “general warrants” that allowed British officials to invade and search randomly vast numbers of homes and farms on no evidence of wrongdoing by those being searched.  Of course the Founders did not have “telecommunications” where our conversations, plans, information gathering, etc. is done over the telephone and the Internet.  However the Courts and Congress have recognized and applied 4th Amendment protections to those methods of communication and information gathering.

Today we are faced with a very serious challenge to our rights as Citizens of this Republic regarding our 4th Amendment rights with the recent revelation of abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (or FISA) laws being used against US Citizens by the FBI and the Dept. of Justice.

As you know the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have released the “Nunes Memo” which, if accurate, details serious misuse and maybe outright fraud upon the FISA court on at least one application – to surveil Carter Page, a onetime volunteer adviser to the Trump campaign.  Here is a link to the Nunes Memo.  It is important that people read this short three and one half page document.  Another important thing to read and understand is the timeline of these events.  Thomas Del Baccaro has put together that timeline in his article which appeared in Political Vanguard. Here is the link. One thing important to note from the timeline – the 2016 FISA warrant application and order were after Carter Page left the Trump campaign.  Also importantly Senator Charles Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham have released a letter to the DOJ (with some redactions) for potential criminal prosecution of Christopher Steele.  That letter confirms much of the Nunes Memo. Here is the link to that letter.

At the time of my writing this post the White House is reviewing the Democratic memo by Congressman Adam Schiff for release, release with redactions, etc.  I suspect it will be out soon.  Both the Nunes and Schiff memos claim to be accurate and based upon the underlying documents including the FISA application and renewal applications.   Reportedly the Schiff memo rebuts statements made in the Nunes memo.  As an aside, given that many things Adam Schiff has said have been proven to be untrue, in my opinion he is not to be trusted.

But this scandal raises serious questions: Are highly placed members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice actively misleading the FISA court to spy on American citizens?  If Carter Page was “surveilled” (spied upon), did the FBI follow others who spoke to Mr. Page such as persons in the Trump campaign separate and apart from any conversations Mr. Page had with them?  What part did the Fusion GPS “dossier” play in the FISA application?  Even if it was only a small part of the application, if the dossier was “salacious and unverified” as Former FBI Director Comey stated, why was it used in the application at all?  Did the FBI and Department of Justice attorneys withhold from the FISA court that the dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC (via an illegal concealed payment to Fusion GPS by the campaign’s attorneys)?  If so, did the Court ask any questions about this either at the time of the original application or on one of the renewals of the warrant? If the origin of the dossier was disclosed to the FISA court why did it issue the warrant?  Were any other warrant applications to the FISA court by these same individuals made with tainted evidence?  Etc., Etc., Etc….There are SO MANY MORE QUESTIONS that the Nunes Memo and other information in the news regarding this scandal bring up.

One thing is certain – the American people deserve to have the entire FISA application and renewal documents (with only sparse redactions for true national security purposes) released and very soon.  Let the American people decide for themselves if the application and its renewals were done properly or not.

The fact that the FISA process, applications and courts are designed to operate in secret is no excuse for withholding this application and its renewals.  There is just too much independent evidence (such as the infamous texts between disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page) of bias investigations and abuse of the FISA process to keep this “under wraps” for any reason.  The American people have a legitimate reason to demand and receive these documents.  If it proves that Mr. Nunes is correct, then massive changes need to be made to the FISA process and certain people need, at the very least, to lose their jobs.  If the evidence is that the Nunes memo is false, the American people need to know that too.

In Part II – My Thoughts on What People Involved in this Scandal Should Do Now.

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U.S. Senate Democrat Hypocrisy In Full Display Joined by Two Republicans!

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on January 30, 2018

Sometimes satire is very very funny. The Babylon Bee (http://babylonbee.com/) is a Christian satire site similar to the Onion but with a religious theme to it.  It’s “articles” are usually funny with lots of humor often poking fun at popular culture and at the Church itself.

But sometimes its satire is bitingly and strikingly to the point.  The vote by most of the U.S. Senate Democrats and two Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is a case in point – actually two cases on point.  First is the Bee’s article entitled:

Senate Democrats Refuse To Grant Legal Status To Children Dreaming Of Being Born (Link)

The article begins: “WASHINGTON, DC—Voting down a measure that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks gestation, Senate Democrats on Monday refused to grant legal status to millions of unborn children dreaming of one day being born.”

Later in the article it states: “Frankly, I’m tired of the Republicans’ sob stories about these so-called ‘dreamers’ who are deliberately hiding inside a womb, hoping for government protection without going through the proper channels,” a DNC spokesperson told reporters. “Maybe it’s not their fault their parents brought them into this world, but that does not give them the same Constitutional right to life that hardworking, natural-born Americans have earned.”

For the rest of this bitingly true article go to the link above – its satire but it is strikingly on point.

The the Babylon Bee followed up with this excellent piece:

After Killing 20-Week Abortion Ban, Democrats Resume Lecturing People About Compassion (Link)

This one begins: “WASHINGTON, D.C.—According to sources within the Senate, Democratic legislators took a short break from their tireless schedule of lecturing the nation about compassion Monday in order to vote against a ban on the barbaric practice of ripping helpless 20-week-old babies limb from limb and pulling them from the wombs of their mothers.”

Later the article “reported”: “We had to hit pause on our monologues about immigrant children for a quick minute so we could ensure that women’s rights to kill their babies at any time, for any reason are preserved,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “But rest assured, we are back on our moral high horse and will proceed to posture as champions of the oppressed and the only virtuous human beings on earth, now that that task is complete.”

Finally this satire piece noted that “At publishing time, sources confirmed that the two Republicans who sided with the Democrats to shoot down the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine—had resumed acting as though they represented the values of their constituents.”

I highly recommend you go to the link above for this full article too.

While these two reports are truly “satire,” they are based on true events that occurred this week (the week of January 29th).  And both point to the absolute hypocrisy of most U.S. Senate Democrats (including our own Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein).

Both articles are very short and worth your time.

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The Trouble with Josh Newman

Posted by Brenda Higgins on October 20, 2017

 

Josh Newman is the California State Senator elected to the 29th district, which includes North Orange County, Fullerton to Yorba Linda and adjacent communities in San Bernardino county and Los Angeles County.

http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/downloads/meeting_handouts_082011/map_20110815_ap_sd_29_certified.pdf

Newman was elected in November 2016. The election of Newman created a super-majority of Democrats in Sacramento. His election was the closest one in the state and was the last one to be finalized and certified. This seat has been easily won and held by Republicans for many years.

SB1 is also known as the “Gas and Car Tax”. It increased the tax that Californians pay on a gallon of gas from $ 0.18 to $ 0.31, a $ 0.13 increase. The effort to recall Newman began shortly after that with San Diego activist, Carl DeMaio leading the effort.

A website was up during the time that the signatures were being gathered, as well as a Facebook page. “Stop the Gas Tax” was the mantra, the battle cry, the motto, the slogan emblazoned on the signs. The name of the website has now been changed, as has the name of the Facebook page. However the Facebook page has merely added “Recall Senator Newman” to its original title “Stop the Gas Tax. Now, it is hyphenated.
The first challenge to be mounted to the recall effort was litigation targeting the deception. The phrase that populated everything that came from the organization was “Stop the Gas Tax”. No mention of Newman. No mention of recall. Stop The Gas Tax.

Recalling Newman will not repeal the gas tax.

Further, Newman was not the “deciding vote”, as has been stated in some of the promotion of this effort.

https://ballotpedia.org/Verbatim_fact_check:_Was_Sen._Josh_Newman_the_deciding_vote_on_California%27s_gas_tax_increase%3F

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Newman, names as defendants, the Cal State Fullerton students who were gathering signatures, accusing them of misrepresenting the nature of the petition that they were having people sign. In discussing this with professionals who deal with these election law matters, they have insisted that this litigation is not going anywhere, as the description on the petition itself is the only relevant consideration in legally determining if signers have been mislead. It is hard to believe, that the signage, and name of the website and Facebook page don’t matter. Time will tell, that litigation is still pending. The legal issue may be resolved in the manner that the involved Republicans believe, but they seem to be a tad short sighted in assuming that voters do not care about being deliberately mislead.

In the meantime, the Democrats with their super majority and governor, have passed additional legislation, to delay the recall. The legislation would provide a 30 day grace period, for people to change their minds and ask that their signatures be removed from a petition. They passed the legislation in June, it was shortly thereafter blocked by an appeals court. A new bill, was then passed and quickly signed by the governor, would require that every single signature be verified, rather than just verifying a random sampling of the signatures. This of course delays and lengthens the time it potentially takes to get a special election on the calendar. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers have filed a petition in court to fight this new law. That litigation is also pending.

The score so far is this, California consumers will be paying 13 cents more for every gallon of gas, 20 cents on diesel fuel, starting November 1, 2017. California vehicle owners will be paying an additional $25 to $175 on vehicle registrations. That is just on the SB1 legislation that Republicans are blaming Senator Newman for.

It is estimated that these new taxes, on this legislation alone, will generate $52 billion over the next ten years, to be used for road improvements. I don’t think there is anyone who disputes that road and infrastructure is badly in need of attention in our state. However, the government in California has been notoriously untrustworthy in using allocated budget funds to repair and maintain our roads. This time, it seems they pinky promise or some other super-duper assurance that these funds, really will be used for roads.

The problem with hanging this albatross around the neck of Newman, is that watching all of the activity in Sacramento, it is impossible to fathom that an extra republican in the Senate would have made a difference. Nowhere in the propaganda accompanying this farce of a recall does it inform voters that there was a Republican who voted for this gas tax, and there was. That republican is not being targeted for recall. The fact checker (link is above) from Ballotpedia (Non-partisan source) says that the claim of Newman being the “deciding vote” is patently false. 27 Senators in the State Senate are Democrats. 27 Senators voted for the “Gas Tax” (SB1), the no votes were not tallied, and there were two Senators who did not vote. One of the affirming votes was from a Republican Senator.

After the recall was well underway, California Cap and Trade legislation came up for vote. The Republican minority leader voted for the legislation, which will raise taxes on a gallon of California by about 63 cents. The Republican leader, also convinced 8 other Republicans to vote along with him. Neither the Republican leader, nor any of the legislators who voted with him are being targeted for recall.
So the real trouble with Newman, is that he is a democrat, in a seat the Republicans perceive to be at risk. The issue never was the gas tax. Had we elected a Republican in SD29, I can imagine based upon voting history and party behavior, we would be having a very different conversation about this gas tax. It would go something like, we really, really need to fix the roads and there is no other way but to implement this new tax. The newly elected Republican Senator would be making the lunch and coffee meeting rounds to explain how hard it is to be in the minority in Sacramento and why she had to vote for the tax. It is all about the constituents and I was looking out for you, for our roads.

Newman, at least voted in the way anyone and everyone anticipated him to vote and makes no apology therefore. The false flag does not change this and it is not a far stretch to know that the Republican who would have occupied that seat, likely would have voted the same way and make excuses for it.

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So what did taxpayers get from CUSD’s financing of Former Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson’s Financial Conflict of Interest defense? Nothing! Part Two of Two.

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on August 28, 2017

In Part One we outlined how the taxpayers came to pay for Former CUSD Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson’s conflict of interest non-disclosure legal defense. In Part Two we find CUSD is blocking the public’s access to what the taxpayer dollars were spent for and a long list of serious unanswered questions.

Even More Taxpayer Education Dollars to The Olson Law Firm and the Blocked Entries of the Descriptions of Services

In December the Board authorized a $10,000 increase in the allowed cost for the Olson firm (for total legal fees of $25,000.00).  [12-6-16 More Money for Olson Authorization]. Then in February 2017 the FPPC closed its file.  The Olson firm did not submit another invoice to CUSD until April 30, 2017 for $937.50.  When CUSD finally disclosed this invoice in late July (after several requests by CPC) it contained the similar redactions as in the 10/31/16 invoice. [4-30-17 Olson Invoice]

As an attorney myself I understand and value the need for the attorney client communication privilege.  However in this case we have taxpayer funds being spent for the legal defense of a  financial disclosure filing which is normally privately funded by the politician themselves.  Therefore it would be proper for the taxpayers to know what they received for their money.  CUSD could waive the Attorney Client Privilege and give us un-redacted invoices.  But it has refused to do so.

Just What Did the Olson Firm Do For The Money?

With all of the Olson’s firm’s billing activity as of October 31, 2016 we would expect there to be letters and e-mails going back and forth between the Olson firm and the FPPC.

But in the responses to CPC by CUSD and the FPPC not one letter or e-mail was apparently exchanged between the Olson firm and the FPPC.  Not. One. Letter. Or. E-mail. Nothing!  And none between the FPPC and the Orbach or Werksman firms either. The FPPC advised me that if they had “phone notes” of any conversations with the Olson firm, those would have been turned over in response to our Public Records Act request.  None were disclosed.

Serious Questions Remain

So after obtaining everything in writing from CUSD (and the FPPC) that they would disclose, many serious questions remain:

Why are there be no written communications or telephone notes of conversations between the Olson law firm and the FPPC?

Why would the Olson firm not bill the District for the time put into the case between Nov. 1st and Feb. 28th until April 30, 2017?

Just what did this Olson firm do for the $16,274.50 taxpayer’s dollars it was paid?

Are there other matters the Olson firm is being paid taxpayer money for by CUSD?   There is an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office into this same matter involving Ms. Hatton-Hodson.  That District Attorney investigation is not mentioned in the 9/26/16 Olson retainer agreement with CUSD.

Is the Orbach firm working for CUSD / Hatton-Hodson on the District Attorney’s investigation?  Why else would they hire the $750 per hour Werksman firm which advertises itself as “Tenacious. Proven. Criminal Trial Attorneys“?  The Werksman firm’s total invoicing (per the records CUSD disclosed) on this matter is $13,972.50 to date.  $2,175.00 for work done in March 2017 AFTER the FPPC closed its file in February 2017.

Why would the Olson law firm retained to assist the former trustee by the District not list Trustee Hatton-Hodson as the Client rather than the District? After all the District did not fail to file the Disclosure form correctly – Lynn Hatton-Hodson apparently failed to do this.  Why were there no written waivers of the obvious potential conflict of interest in the file disclosed to CPC?

What did the Orbach firm do for CUSD that the Olson firm was not already doing after the Board of Trustees hired Olson in late September 2016?

Here is the breakdown of the taxpayer dollars spent on lawyers in the Lynn Hatton-Hodson matter to date:

Olson              $16,274.50

Orbach           $11,728.00

Werksman     $13,972.50

Total              $41,975.00

Who Received What Benefits For The Public’s $41,975.00 Tax Dollars?

What did the taxpayers get for this expenditure of public funds?  Apparently absolutely nothing except dollars that could have been used in the class room are now in the possession of attorneys.  In fact, three sets of attorneys!

What did CUSD and the children it is supposed to service get for this expense?  Nothing.

What did former Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson receive? A free taxpayer funded legal defense before the FPPC (and maybe for the District Attorney’s investigation as well).

Perhaps the real question here is what did the other Trustees get for this expenditure of their constituents’ money!  Apparently the comfort of knowing that if in the future they are caught with their proverbial hands in the financial cookie jar they will have taxpayer dollars to defend their actions and mistakes as political candidates.

Craig Alexander is an attorney who represents requestors of information under the California Public Records Act. He is also volunteer General Counsel for the California Policy Center, Inc. a policy think tank that advocates for transparency in government. He is a former candidate for CUSD’s Board of Trustees. Craig can be reached at craig@craigalexanderlaw.com.

Posted in Capistrano Unified School District, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

So what did taxpayers get from CUSD’s financing of Former Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson’s Financial Conflict of Interest defense? Nothing! Part One of Two

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on August 24, 2017

Former CUSD Trustee Hatton-Hodson’s Undisclosed Financial Conflicts Of Interest And The FPPC

Last fall it was discovered that elected CUSD Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson had an undisclosed financial conflict of interest due to her ownership interest in a vendor to Capistrano Unified School District. She apparently did not disclose this conflict in her required filing with the County known as a Form 700 (Statement of Economic Interest). A citizen made a complaint to the FPPC (the Fair Political Practices Commission) about Ms. Hatton-Hodson’s failure to disclose the obvious conflict.

Normally the filling out and defending of a Form 700 is completely on the shoulders of the person who files it – whether a successful candidate for office like Ms. Hatton-Hudson or the losing candidate who is not elected to office.  In this case the CUSD Board of Trustees had an attorney opine that filling out a Form 700 was an official act of a Trustee and any challenge regarding the form entitles the Trustee to a taxpayer funded defense by attorneys who specialize in this field.

Trustee Hatton-Hodson’s Undisclosed Financial Conflicts of Interest and the FPPC

In September 2016, the Board of Trustees voted 6 to 0 (Ms. Hatton-Hodson did not vote) to retain the law firm of Olson, Hagel & Fishburn, LLP of Sacramento to defend their colleague before the FPPC.  The Board of Trustees authorized the District to spend $15,000.00 of taxpayer money to defend her.

The Olson firm was specifically requested by Ms. Hatton-Hodson in a letter addressed to CUSD’s general counsel Mr. David Huff of the law firm of Orbach, Huff, Saurez & Henderson, LLP. [Hatton-Hodson ltr to Huff].  Interestingly the fee agreement between the Olson firm and the District identified the District as the Client not Ms. Hatton-Hodson. [9-28-16 Professional Services Agreement]. Yet they apparently defended Ms. Hatton-Hodson, not the District, before the FPPC.

Conflict of Interest – What Conflict of Interest!

The California Policy Center, Inc. sent Public Records Act requests to CUSD and the FPPC after the FPPC closed its file in this matter in late February 2017.

Most of the time a contract between a client and an attorney firm is required under Business and Professions Code section 6148.  CUSD disclosed to CPC the agreement between itself and the Olson firm. Again, oddly, this agreement identifies the District not Trustee Hatton-Hodson as the Client of the firm.  The FPPC complaint was the sole scope of work listed for the Olson firm.

In addition, an attorney is not allowed to represent clients with conflicting interests. Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3-310.  The attorney may represent two clients where the conflict of interest between them is only a potential one.  But the attorney should obtain a written Waiver of the Potential Conflict of Interest.  Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3-310 (c).

A potential conflict of interest is something that is very foreseeable in this situation and where the interests if the District and Ms. Hatton-Hodson could become adverse requiring the attorney to withdraw from the representation at any time.  However when we received the documents from CUSD, while the 9/26/17 Agreement was produced, no signed off letters or notices to either the District or Ms. Hatton-Hodson of the Potential Conflict of Interest for the Olson firm were disclosed.  Thus it appears no written waiver was obtained even though one Trustee apparently understood this and brought it to the attention to the Superintendent. [9-26-16 E-mail].

Public Records Act requests by CPC to CUSD and the FPPC – Surprise: Three Law Firms for One Matter!

When CPC sought records under the Public Records Act the requests included attorney fee invoices related to the FPPC matter from CUSD.  In documents disclosed by CUSD we received invoices from not one but three law firms.  Importantly there was one invoice from the Olson firm dated October 31, 2016 for just over $15,000 – the entire amount authorized by the Board of Trustees just one half of one month earlier. [10-31-16 Olson Invoice].

But there were two other firms sending CUSD invoices for this matter: The Orbach firm apparently to give legal advice that the Board could spend taxpayer funds to defend Trustee Hatton-Hodson and presumably to watch over the Olson firm.  Also billing on this matter was the law firm of Werksman, Jackson, Hathaway & Quinn acting as an expert to the Orbach firm.  The hourly rate for the Werksman firm’s senior partner is $750 per hour!  [Werksman Invoices]. All three law firm’s invoices were heavily redacted (blocked out) so that we could not read what these law firms did for Ms. Hatton-Hodson’s defense.  We asked CUSD to give us un-redacted versions of these invoices and it refused.

In Part Two of Two – More Public Money for Attorneys, And for What?  Plus Serious Questions Remain from this Episode. 

Craig Alexander is an attorney who represents requestors of information under the California Public Records Act. He is also volunteer General Counsel for the California Policy Center, Inc. a policy think tank that advocates for transparency in government. He is a former candidate for CUSD’s Board of Trustees. Craig can be reached at craig@craigalexanderlaw.com.

Posted in Capistrano Unified School District, Orange County District Attorney's Office, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Live from OC GOP Central Committee on Stopping the Gas Tax

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 10, 2017

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We are live from the special meeting of the OC GOP Central Committee where the OC GOP is considering the Endorsements Committee’s unanimous recommendation to officially endorse the effort of Assemblyman Travis Allen’s proposed ballot initiative to repeal the gas tax.

Due to the late release of title and summary less than one hour before the Central Committee meeting by the office of Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), the committee does not have the text of the title and summary, so your blogger reads the title and summary of the measure.

The committee jeers portions of the title and summary due to biased language written by the office of the Attorney General.

Committee Member Scott Peotter moves and Committee Member Tim Whitacre seconds to endorse the measure.

There is no debate.

OC GOP UNANIMOUSLY ENDORSES ASSEMBLYMAN TRAVIS ALLEN’S MEASURE TO REPEAL THE GAS TAX.

After a few quick announcements, the special meeting adjourns after 22 minutes.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »