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Californians Against Corruption Defense Fund  
http://www.CACDefenseFund.org

CACDefenseFund@netzero.net

PRESS RELEASE

Thursday, 11-2-2000; For Immediate Release

Contact: Russ Howard, 805-896-1122

Blind Justice, or the Fox Guarding the Hen House?

  • Superior Court Judge fails to disclose conflicts of interest

  • Supreme Court appoints special judge to hear matter

The California Supreme Court has appointed a special judge to consider conflict of interest allegations against Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly in his handling of the case, FPPC v. CAC, Russ Howard, and Steve Cicero (96AS00039). The case involves an $808,000 fine issued in 1995 by California's Fair Political Practices Commission, as a penalty for safeguarding the identities of campaign donors during CAC's 1994 recall of former Senate President David Roberti.

Ironically, Judge Connelly himself is accused of failing to disclose conflicts of interest. Until 1992, then-Assemblyman Connelly was an ally of Roberti and then-Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Mike Roos, both of whom left office in the wake of exposure by CAC. The 3 Democrats coauthored bills and donated to each other; Roberti hired Connelly's law firm; and Connelly was on CAC's "Corrupt Politician List."

"Judges should be free of political influence and conflict of interest, not foxes guarding the hen house," said Russ Howard, who volunteered to direct the recall. Judge Connelly's conduct is an embarrassment to the Judiciary." On discovering the conflicts, CAC gave Judge Connelly an opportunity to vacate his orders so an unbiased judge could rehear the case. He refused.

When the FPPC sued to collect the fine, CAC objected on grounds of constitutional rights violations and lack of jurisdiction. "The FPPC failed to show up for hearings, then took no action for 3 years, leading us to believe they didn't want to pursue it." When the FPPC reactivated the case this year, both parties moved to dismiss each other's complaints for lack of prosecution. "Connelly granted their motion and denied ours. Then by luck our attorney learned he'd been an Assemblyman. We thought it was behind us, but it's back. And now we have to fight another battle to get Judge Connelly to retroactively step aside."


Connelly now admits Roos donated $5,000 to one of his campaigns and Roberti paid $12,000 to his law firm, yet still denies any conflict. He got the case in 1997, but says he did not review it until 2000, when he first became aware of the fine and CAC.                        

CAC's stated mission is to remove corrupt politicians who dishonor their oath to defend the Constitution. From 1992-94, CAC ran 3 campaigns against Roberti, prompting the powerful Senate President to empty his war chest of over $3.3 million to stay in office. In 1994, CAC organized an alliance of victims' rights, tax-limitation, law enforcement, and 2nd Amendment groups to mount the state's first legislative recall since 1914. Roberti beat it at the cost of resigning his Senate Presidency and losing the State Treasury race, which was just 6 weeks after the recall. He then announced his retirement, blaming the recall.                    

-End-

 

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No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion. James Burgh, Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses [London, 1774-1775].

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