Friday, April 28, 2018
Los Angeles County Bar Trustees Invalidate Elections
Vow to Start Process Anew
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles County Bar Association trustees have voted to invalidate the results of the organization’s 2017 elections—which saw a full slate of officers and trustees, led by Brian Kabateck, running for president-elect—elected without opposition, and begin the process anew, the association said yesterday.
The action was taken Wednesday night. Yesterday’s statement referenced the creation last month of a task force to look into what the release called “the appearance of a breach of confidentiality, demonstrated by media reports” on the elections process.
The MetNews reported March 1 that immediate past president Paul Kiesel had pushed the committee to nominate Michael K. Lindsey, a partner in Steinbrecher & Span, for the president-elect post, at its Feb. 27 meeting. The committee, however, nominated Kabateck, the choice of President-Elect Michael E. Meyer, who will become LACBA president on July 1.
The March 1 article did not specify whether Kiesel’s lobbying occurred prior to the Nominating Committee’s meeting, at it, or both.
Lindsey was the nominating committee’s choice for president-elect last year, but lost to Meyer—who petitioned onto the ballot—by a membership vote of 1,273 to 448. Under the now-invalidated elections process, Kabateck and the Nominating Committee’s other choices were elected unopposed because no one submitted the necessary 100 signatures to run against them by the March 22 deadline.
Lindsey expressed surprise yesterday when told of the board’s decision, and said he was uncertain whether he would run for an office.
The association said in its statement:
“Based on the findings of [the task force] report, the non-recused Board determined that the nomination process had been seriously compromised by breaches of confidentiality and decided to re-conduct the Nominating Committee process for 2017, including: selection of confidential Nominating Committee members, conducting one or more meetings to determine a proposed slate of Officers and new Trustees for the 2017-2018 bar year, releasing the identity of those nominees, then allowing for contesting candidates to submit their candidacy, if any, and finally to determine if an election process is required.”
The release included a statement from LACBA Treasurer Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, whom the release said “serves as Chair of LACBA’s non-recused Board of Trustees as to this matter.” Crabtree-Ireland said he was “confident that this renewed process will ensure next year’s Officers and Trustees can take office without any cloud on the legitimacy of their election.”
The board’s intent, the release said, was not to criticize the committee slate or any of its members, but was “solely based on the compromised confidentiality of the process and was necessary to uphold the integrity of LACBA’s nomination and election process.”
The release said the non-recused members of the Executive Committee would oversee the selection of new dates.
Trustees Are Mum
A number of trustees contacted by the MetNews yesterday said they either were not at the meeting or were not yet prepared to comment. One trustee said:
“I’m very unsettled about it. I’m very disappointed in certain members of the leadership.”
The trustee would not name them.
LACBA President Margaret P. Stevens did not return a phone call. Meyer, through a staff member at his law firm, said he was traveling on business and would not be able to comment.
Besides Kabateck, the now-unelected slate includes Tamila C. Jensen, the current vice president, who would have switched offices with Senior Vice President Philip H. Lam, and nine trustee candidates—Susan J. Booth, Tanya Forsheit, and Jennifer W. Leland (at large members); Kristin Adrian, Matthew W. McMurtrey, and Kevin L. Vick, (representing sections); and Firoozeh “Faye” Nia, Michael R. Sohigian, and Felix Woo (representing affiliated bar associations).
Meyer, Jensen, and Lam, as well as trustee candidates, were elected last year as part of a slate of self-identified reformers, who challenged the record of the previous leadership, including Kiesel and Stevens, primarily on the handling of LACBA finances and what they said was a deteriorating relationship between the board and the association’s sections.
Copyright 2017, Metropolitan News Company