Friday, March 26, 2010
Court Expected to Rule Today on Eastman’s Ballot Designation
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley is expected to rule today on whether state attorney general candidate John Eastman can use the ballot designation of “Assistant Attorney General,” after that designation was rejected by the secretary of state.
Eastman, the former dean of the Chapman University School of Law, petitioned the court Tuesday for a writ of mandate directing California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to allow him to use the designation. Bowen’s office informed the campaign Tuesday that the designation had been rejected as not complying with the Elections Code and implementing regulations.
Ballot designations must identify the a candidate’s current elected office or “principal professions, vocations, or occupations,” and a spokesperson for Bowen said the office plans to release a preliminary list of approved designations today.
Eastman’s political consultant, Jeff Flint, explained that the candidate has been serving as outside counsel for South Dakota before the U.S. Supreme Court, and that state’s laws required he be appointed as a special assistant attorney general in order to represent the state in that capacity. The case is Reisch v. Sisney, and deals with prisoners’ rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
Flint emphasized that “nobody” has disputed that Eastman “actually holds the position” of special assistant attorney general and that “it is accurate and appropriate” as a ballot designation “because it’s Mr. Eastman’s principal occupation.”
He said Bowen had rejected the designation because the position was in South Dakota, not California. But Flint contended that there is “no standard in the law to suggest that the secretary of state can impose an arbitrary jurisdictional restriction on a ballot designation,” and that Bowen “has chosen to invent one,” which is “not appropriate.”
Should Frawley rule against Eastman today, Flint said the candidate has a “back-up” designation, which Bowen has approved, of “Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney.” Although Flint opined that this would still be “a good ballot designation,” and “also accurate and descriptive,” the designation of “Assistant Attorney General” would be “the most accurate.”
As for whether or not Eastman would appeal an adverse decision, Flint said it would depend on the reason given by the trial court.
District Attorney Steve Cooley, one of Eastman’s opponents in the Republican primary, previously criticized Eastman’s proposed ballot designation as misleading and announced his intent to take legal action if Bowen allowed him to use it.
Kevin Spillane, a consultant for Cooley, yesterday said that ballot designations are rejected “on very rare occasion,” and so Bowen’s decision “tells you just how deceitful the Eastman ballot designation was.”
He called it “outrageous” that Eastman was trying to pass himself off as an assistant attorney generally, and “to add insult to injury, he actually has the nerve to go to court and cost the taxpayers money in litigation in an effort to fool the voters.”
Cooley has also objected to a request by state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Costa Mesa, to be listed on the ballot as “Prosecutor/Attorney/Senator,” but the decision as to whether that designation will be approved has not yet been announced.
Cooley, Eastman, and Harman are seeking the Republican nomination to replace Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is running for governor. The winner will face the survivor among six Democratic candidates.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company