By Matt Coker
By R. Scott Moxley
By Charles Lam
By Nick Schou
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
A spokesperson at Remote Sensing Technologies said Adams had not been president of the company. When asked if she was positive, she replied, "I can promise you that nobody named John Adams was president of this company."
University of California at Riverside research director Joe Norbeck worked intensely with the company in 1997 on remote-sensing technology but had never heard of Adams. "I don't recall that name," he said. "If he was involved at all, he was not a major player."
Adams claimed his Remote Sensing Technologies company was based in Arizona, but the Arizona Secretary of State's office—where owners must list corporations doing business in the state—showed no record of Adams being president of any company.
A federal EPA official contacted by the Weeklyrecalled that Adams was employed by Remote Sensing Technologies, but he could not recall his title.
Other key problems with Adams' résumés include:
•Describing himself as a "civic and community leader" in Dana Point, though several Dana Point residents involved in Republican politics and the city's most heated debates say they had never heard of Adams before he ran for judge. Longtime city activist June Golumbic said, "He's a mystery to me and my friends."
•He has claimed he has been "a respected attorney" with "over 20 years' experience." But according to the State Bar of California, Adams has been licensed to practice off and on for less than 14 years. Adams has declined to explain the six-year discrepancy. In his first campaign résumé issued in February, he reported his occupation from 1980 to 1994 as a practicing attorney at law. However, the state bar records show he was prohibited from practicing law for eight of those 14 years, 1982 to 1990, because his license was suspended.
•In July, Adams amended his résumé and claimed he was an attorney only from 1980 to 1982 and 1990 forward and admitted that from 1982 to 1990, he owned a muffler shop called AutoTech. But apparently, "muffler-shop owner" didn't sound impressive enough, so in August, Adams changed his 1982 to 1990 occupation. This time, he listed himself as a "business executive" who "developed business ventures."
•Adams also notes that he was a director of the South Orange County Watershed Conservancy, but Roger von Butow—founder of the environmental group—said Adams was using the organization to boost his pre-election credentials. "He was just trying to pad his résumé," von Butow said. "He is a bought, paid and delivered friend of the developer cartel that controls Orange County." Adams recently resigned after pressure from von Butow.
•Though Adams' résumé touts his affiliation with the Orange County Bar Association, he has not explained why he refused to allow the group to question him about his qualifications and experience to become a judge. The bar, which routinely evaluates judicial candidates, said it couldn't vouch for Adams. The bar deemed Sandoval "qualified."
•And then there is his work with Civic Partners Inc., a Newport Beach-based real-estate developer. Court records show that Adams' history with the company may have been less than flattering. Semingson, president of the company, said a confidential court settlement prohibited him from commenting on Adams as an employee.
Gay Sandoval says the race against Adams has been "fascinating." She would, however, like her opponent to "stop misrepresenting" his credentials. In early October, Adams' well-funded campaign (he has raised more than $100,000) posed destitute and re-posted campaign advertisements that declared, "Remove Judge Kline, Write In Adams." To Sandoval, the move was an attempt to mislead voters. She has asked a court to do the improbable: force Adams to buy half-page advertisements in the Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register to "set the record straight" about his lies before voters go to the polls.
"I just don't think what he's done is right," she said.
Sandoval's in private civil practice these days, advising small businesses on legal issues. The mother of two children has 10 years of experience as a deputy district attorney. She has prosecuted child molesters, deadbeat parents, drunken drivers and scam artists. She appears very much the PTA president she once was. She's simultaneously soft-spoken and determined. Unlike her opponent, she answers her home phone, though she declines to state a political party preference on her voter-registration card.
Sandoval has solid endorsements—for example, the Association of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys, the Irvine Police Officers Association, Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters, as well as numerous current superior court judges.
But she failed to get the backing of perhaps the most influential local politician, Supervisor and soon-to-be Republican Assemblyman Todd Spitzer. Spitzer says Adams "seemed to have the credentials, and he had been active in the anti-[El Toro] airport movement."
But as with almost everything else on Adams' résumé, there are questions about his role in the airport fight. According to Tom Rogers, a former Republican Party chairman and longtime anti-airport leader, "Adams always seemed to appear whenever there was a meeting of the [anti-airport] committee, but never at working sessions, which raised my suspicions about his sincerity on the airport issue." Rogers says his "suspicions were confirmed when [Adams] bought into all the pro-airport slate mailers at the same time he was using the anti-airport association to advance his [judicial] campaign." Rogers dashed off an e-mail to Adams, asking him, "How did you think it would help [the anti-airport] Measure W by providing funds to the No on W mailers?" Rogers never heard back.