Monday, March 29, 2010
Cooley to Challenge Harman Ballot Designation—Spokesman
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley will be seeking a writ of mandate early this week to block one of his opponents for the Republican nomination for state attorney general, Sen. Tom Harman, R-Costa Mesa, from appearing on the June ballot with the designation of “Prosecutor/Attorney/Senator,” a consultant for Cooley’s campaign said Friday.
Cooley will also be intervening in the proceedings scheduled to resume this Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court over conservative legal scholar John Eastman’s request to use the title of “Assistant Attorney General” or “Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney,” the consultant, Kevin Spillane, said.
Friday, Secretary of State Debra Bowen gave preliminary approval to Harman’s requested designation and Eastman’s use of “Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney,” after having rejected Eastman’s preferred titles of “Assistant Attorney General” and Special Assistant Attorney-General.”
Spillane, however, insisted that the designations approved by Bowen were misleading to voters.
Harman “is not a prosecutor,” Spillane said, calling the candidate’s use of the title “ridiculous” and “an insult to real prosecutors across California.”
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, 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 on Feb. 10, less than a week before Harman submitted his paperwork for the attorney general’s race.
Harman’s campaign did not return a request for comment.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley also heard argument Friday regarding Eastman’s writ petition seeking an order directing Bowen to allow him to use the designation of “Assistant Attorney General.”
Eastman’s political consultant, Jeff Flint, said Frawley granted Cooley’s motion to intervene as a real party in interest in support of Bowen’s decision and to challenge the alternate designation of “Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney,” then continued the matter until Thursday—the deadline for Bowen’s office to issue the certified list of candidates with the designations that will appear on the ballot.
Documents filed by Eastman’s attorneys, Bradley A. Benbrook and Daniel J. Croxall of Stevens, O’Connell & Jacobs LLP, contended that that Eastman’s “special assignment” as an “Assistant Attorney General” representing South Dakota before the U.S. Supreme Court in Reisch v. Sisney—which deals with prisoners’ rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act—has constituted the candidate’s principal professional work since he stepped down as dean of the Chapman University School of Law in January, up to and after the date Eastman submitted his ballot designation materials.
In a letter dated March 19, Bowen’s office disapproved of the designation—and the proposed alternate of “Special Assistant Attorney-General”—because they were “misleading in that they could lead voters to believe that Mr. Eastman is working as an Assistant Attorney General or as a Special Assistant Attorney-General in the office for which he is currently running.”
The letter further noted that the proposed alternate designation violated Elections Code Sec. 13107(a)(3) since it contained four words, but approved the second alternative designation of “Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney.”
Spillane insisted that all three of Eastman’s proposed designations were “outrageously, blatantly misleading, self-serving and deceitful,” and that the candidate had reached “a new low in trying to trick the public.”
He said Cooley was planning to challenge the “Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney” designation on Thursday, assuming Frawley upholds Bowen’s decision regarding the other designations proposed by Eastman.
Spillane contended that other candidates who have used the title “Taxpayer Advocate” all represented taxpayer organizations in some capacity, and dismissed Eastman’s claimed involvement in taxpayer litigation as merely “the role of a lawyer.”
Flint defended Eastman’s use of “Taxpayer Advocate” as a designation, claiming the candidate has represented taxpayers, “on taxation issues,” in “dozens of cases,” including the Reisch case.
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