Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Lawyer: California GOP Paying for Suit Challenging Brown’s Eligibility
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Republican Party has been paying the legal bills for the lawsuit challenging Democratic candidate Jerry Brown’s eligibility to be California Attorney general, an attorney with the firm representing the plaintiffs in the action said yesterday.
Jimmie E. Johnson, an attorney at Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk in Sacramento, told the MetNews that the CRP has been paying for the action, and that state Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, Brown’s opponent in the race, “categorically has not been paying for any part of the suit.”
Last week Poochigian’s campaign, which has denied any direct involvement in the action, filed a campaign finance report showing several payments totaling $5,160.17 to Bell McAndrews, which represents the plaintiffs in the suit. Brown’s campaign demanded Friday that Poochigian release the billing records showing the nature of those payments.
A Poochigian spokesperson said Friday the payments were for legal advice on compliance with campaign finance laws, and had nothing to do with the suit against Brown. But he declined to release the billing records.
Johnson said yesterday that his firm does not have authorization to release copies of the bills sent to the Poochigian campaign.
In the lawsuit, plaintiffs Thomas G. Del Beccaro, Contra Costa County Republican Party chairman Adam C. Abrahms, head of the Los Angeles chapter of the California Republican Lawyers Association and others allege that Brown, currently mayor of Oakland, fails to qualify to be attorney general under Government Code Sec. 12503, which says:
“No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.”
The plaintiffs contend the statute requires one to be an active member of the State Bar throughout the five-year period. Brown’s attorneys argue that anyone who has been a member of the bar, even if on voluntary inactive status, during the period qualifies under the statute.
Brown was initially admitted to the State Bar in 1965, but was on inactive status from 1997 to May 2003.
Last week Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang denied the plaintiffs’ request for an expedited hearing on their motion to bar the counting of votes for Brown in the Nov. 7 election, so that it could be heard before the election.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company