Friday, April 2, 2010
Judges Reject Proposed Ballot Designations for Harman, Eastman
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Two candidates for the Republican nomination for California attorney general had their proposed ballot designations rejected by Sacramento Superior Court judges in separate cases yesterday.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley yesterday ruled that John Eastman cannot use the ballot designation of “Assistant Attorney General” or “Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney” on the June ballot. State Sen. Tom Harman, R-Costa Mesa, had his designation of “Prosecutor/Attorney/Senator” rejected by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Allen H. Sumner.
According to the certified list of candidates released yesterday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office, Eastman will appear on the ballot as “Constitutional Law Attorney” and Harman as “Attorney/Senator.”
Bowen had given preliminary approval to Eastman’s use of “Taxpayer Advocate” in his title, but disapproved of his preferred designations of “Assistant Attorney General” and “Special Assistant Attorney-General.” Eastman filed a petition for writ of mandate challenging her decision, and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, the third candidate in the race, intervened in the action.
Eastman had claimed that his appointment as a special assistant attorney general in South Dakota, representing the state before the U.S. Supreme Court in Reisch v. Sisney, was his principal profession since he stepped down as dean of the Chapman University School of Law in January.
Bowen, however, determined the requested designations were “misleading” since voters could understand it to mean he was “working as an Assistant Attorney General or as a Special Assistant Attorney-General in the office for which he is currently running.”
Kevin Spillane, a consultant for Cooley’s campaign, opined that Eastman “didn’t only lose his case, he lost his credibility” by losing his challenge to Bowen’s decision and by having Frawley further determine the alternate proposed designation of “Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney” was inaccurate.
Case Work Cited
On his filing paperwork, Eastman noted his work in the South Dakota case, which deals with prisoners’ rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and a dozen other cases as a representative sample of his representation of individual taxpayers, corporate taxpayers and groups of taxpayers in cases involving tax issues to justify his use of the title.
Jeff Flint, a spokesperson for Eastman’s campaign, explained that Frawley had not been persuaded by this evidence, finding that an attorney who handles litigation involving taxpayer issues but does not represent a taxpayer organization is merely an attorney, not a taxpayer advocate.
Flint said that he disagreed with the judge’s ruling, insisting that the disapproved ballot designations “complied with the laws, regulations, and case law governing ballot designations” and “were accurate,” but that the campaign had decided not to appeal and “just move forward.”
He suggested that the ballot designation of “Constitutional Law Attorney” was “a strong one,” since “voters will appreciate an Attorney General who will represent them by enforcing the constitutionally limited powers of government.”
Cooley had also filed a petition for writ of mandate to block Harman from using the designation of “Prosecutor/Attorney/Senator,” which Bowen had approved.
In the ballot designation worksheet accompanying his nominating documents, Harman claimed he is a “prosecutor” based on his participation in the Orange County Trial Attorney Partnership Program, an eight-week volunteer program under which attorneys serve as unpaid deputy district attorneys by appointment of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Rackauckas, who has endorsed Harman, named him a deputy less than a week before Harman submitted his paperwork for the attorney general’s race in February, but Spillane said the candidate “has not tried a single case” since then, “not even a traffic ticket.”
Tim Rosales, a spokesperson for Harman’s campaign, said that Sumner found the candidate’s use of the title “Prosecutor” was inaccurate since he “felt the senator had to try at least one case.”
But Rosales said the campaign was “very happy” with the alternate designation, emphasizing that “we had it in the original title” and the candidate is “very proud of the work that he has done in the Senate.”
Spillane disagreed, opining that yesterday’s rulings were “real blows” to the Eastman and Harman campaigns.
He said the decisions were “an acknowledgement that Steve Cooley is the only one with real law enforcement credentials,” and that his opponents’ attempts to gain the designations they did demonstrated that “it’s a real weakness for this campaign that they don’t.”
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company