Monday, October 30, 2006
Brown: Poochigian Paid Firm Involved in Disqualification Suit
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The campaign for Republican candidate for state attorney general Chuck Poochigian recently paid $5,160.17 to the law firm representing the plaintiffs in an action challenging Democratic candidate Jerry Brown’s eligibility to hold the office.
Brown’s campaign demanded that Poochigian release the billing records showing the nature of the payments, which appeared in a campaign finance report filed by Poochigian last week. Brown’s spokesperson said in a release:
“Poochigian has repeatedly denied direct involvement [in the suit] yet his campaign paid the law firm thousands of dollars over the past few weeks. Poochigian needs to come clean with the voters of California and release these billing statements.”
Poochigian’s campaign spokesperson told the MetNews Friday the expenditures, to Sacramento’s Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, were for legal advice on compliance with campaign finance laws. He denied that the campaign paid for any part of the suit against Brown, but said it would not release the billing records, saying that’s something they are “just not in the practice of doing.”
Jimmie Johnson, an attorney at Bell, McAndrews involved in the Brown suit, said attorney-client privilege prevented the firm from disclosing what the payments were for.
The lawsuit alleges 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.
Although he has denied direct involvement in the suit, Poochigian has said he supports it. Brown’s campaign has labeled it a “desperate dirty trick.”
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company