Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Los Angeles County Bar Association to Probe Possible Leak From Nominating Panel
Sets Up Task Force to Probe How Newspaper Learned of Kiesel’s Failed Effort To Gain Nod for Lindsey Over Kabateck for President-Elect
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Los Angeles County Bar Association is forming a task force to attempt to uncover how the MetNews learned that former LACBA President Paul Kiesel attempted, unsuccessfully, to sway the Nominating Committee to back his choice for president-elect over Brian Kabateck, the lawyer favored by incoming president Michael E. Meyer.
LACBA’s decision to probe a possible leak by a committee member, in violation of a secrecy pledge, was made at a closed-door session of the Board of Trustees Wednesday night.
Kiesel, the organization’s immediate past president—and, in that capacity, automatically a member of the this year’s Nominating Committee—failed to persuade the Nominating Committee to follow his guidance and reject the candidacy of Kabateck, a past president of the Consumer Attorneys of California. Instead, Kabateck was nominated by the committee at its Feb. 27 meeting and gained election, along with the committee’s other nominees, when no challenges emerged through the filing of nominating petitions by last Wednesday’s deadline.
Wording of Article
The March 1 article which precipitated the investigation said:
“The MetNews has learned that although Kabateck was favored by President-Elect Michael E. Meyer, who will become LACBA president on July 1, Kiesel pushed for the nomination of Michael K. Lindsey, a partner in Steinbrecher & Span. Meyer, chairman of the Los Angeles offices of DLA Piper, gained his post last June by defeating Lindsey—then LACBA’s senior vice president and treasurer—by a membership vote of 1,273 to 448.
“Despite last year’s vote, Kiesel sought to have Lindsey nominated as president-elect this year, and Kabateck to be chosen either as senior vice president or vice president, according to a knowledgeable source.”
The article did not specify whether Kiesel’s lobbying occurred prior to the Nominating Committee’s meeting, at it, or both.
Daily Journal Article
A March 3 article in the Los Angeles Daily Journal (which erroneously reported that Kabateck had become the president-elect, rather than having been nominated for the post, with the prospect of opposition) related:
“The bar’s nominating committee backed Kabateck during a meeting Monday night. Kabateck faced competition from Michael K. Lindsey, a partner at Steinbrecher & Span, who was backed by Paul Kiesel of Kiesel Law.”
The task force was not asked to determine the source of the Daily Journal’s account, it has been learned.
According to a recitation:
“The Task Force will investigate the apparent breach, create a report, and make recommendations to the non-recused Board members, concerning the corporation’s possible responses to the report’s findings. The Task Force will attempt to complete its work at the earliest feasible time.”
Trustees who recused themselves at last Wednesday’s meeting included Jo-Ann W. Grace, co-publisher of the MetNews, who was not a member of this year’s Nominating Committee. She heads business operations of the Metropolitan News Company, which publishes this newspaper and others, and said yesterday she does not know who the source was of the March 1 article.
The MetNews previously reported on Kiesel’s efforts to influence Nominating Committee decisions. A Dec 28, 2016 column revealed that, when president-elect, “he showed up at the meeting of the Nominating Committee on March 31, 2015 with the list of persons he wanted for trustee and officer positions, declared, ‘You’re either with me or you’re against me,’ ” and gained approval of his slate.
This is the second time there has been a bar investigation into the source of a MetNews article. On Aug. 17, 2009, a column bared that the state Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation had determined that former state Sen. Charles Poochigian was “not qualified” to serve on the Fifth District Court of Appeal, sparking a State Bar investigation into the newspaper’s source.
That inquiry cost roughly $100,000, according to a reliable account, although the cost figure was not officially confirmed. Investigators failed to ascertain the source of the information and, in particular, were not able to determine whether the information came from a member of the JNE Commission, in contravention of confidentiality requirements, or from other sources.
Poochigian was nominated by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, and continues to serve on the Fresno-based appeals court.
Copyright 2017, Metropolitan News Company