State attorney general wannabe John Eastman's Kodak moment at the California Republican Assembly convention in Buena Park last month.
State attorney general wannabe John Eastman's Kodak moment at the California Republican Assembly convention in Buena Park last month.
Photo by Christopher Victorio

John Eastman and Tom Harman Dealt Legal Blows in GOP Race for State AG

The two Orange County Republicans who want to be California's next attorney general lost their respective ballot-designation disputes--and the Golden State is better for it.

John Eastman--the former Chapman University law school dean whose most famous education maneuver was bringing his pal and disgraced Bush torture memo author John Yoo to the private Orange institution to pollute future legal minds and defend himself--wanted to dupe voters by being listed as "assistant attorney general" or "special assistant attorney general" in campaign materials and on the June 8 Republican primary ballot. and Metropolitan News have the scoop.

Eastman has never been assistant attorney general in California, and he's not one anywhere else now, despite the frivolous lawsuit he filed in Sacramento County Superior Court against Secretary of State Debra Bowen, the Democrat who initially disallowed Eastman's slimy campaign tactic.

Bowen rightly called the assistant attorney general tag "misleading," creating the illusion among voters that Eastman currently works in the office he is seeking to run.

The conservative who now wants to be California's top law enforcement official based his desired assistant attorney general designation on the fact that he is currently acting as outside counsel for South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley on a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the way kosher food is prepared in a state prison there.

Two problems with that muddy logic:

  • That's like saying American Civil Liberties Union lawyers are assistant attorney generals because they filed friend of the court briefs in 2008 on behalf of Rhode Island's attorney general, who had a gag order imposed on him in a lead-paint case overturned by the state's Supreme Court.
  • South Dakota ain't California.

Eastman's second choice was to appear on June's ballot as "Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney," which won preliminary approval from Bowen. But Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, a third Republican seeking the party's nomination for attorney general in June, intervened in Eastman's lawsuit before Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley.

Litigious little bastards, ain't they?

Eastman supplied citations of a dozen cases where he represented individual taxpayers, corporate taxpayers and groups of taxpayers in cases involving tax issues to justify his use of the title taxpayer advocate/attorney.

But Frawley sided with Cooley, finding that taxpayer advocate was also not a true reflection of Eastman's occupation. The judge said an attorney who handles litigation involving taxpayer issues, but does not represent a taxpayer organization, is merely an attorney.

Frawley agreed with the title Bowen and Eastman agreed to place behind Door No. 3: "Constitutional Law Attorney."

Eastman campaign strategist Jeff Flint reportedly said his guy disagreed with Frawley's ruling, insisting that the disapproved ballot designations " complied with the laws, regulations, and case law governing ballot designations" and "were accurate." 

However, the Eastman campaign decided not to appeal and "just move forward," according to Flint, who also suggested that a ballot designation of constitutional law attorney was "a strong one," since "voters will appreciate an attorney general who will represent them by enforcing the constitutionally limited powers of government."

Flint served as chief of staff to former Garden Grove Republican Assemblyman Curt Pringle, who is now the mayor of Anaheim. You may recall Flint telling R. Scott Moxley in 1998 that Pringle saw no conflict in claiming to be against abortion while at the same time receiving at least $35,750 from Dr. Edward C. Allred, California's most prolific abortionist.

"I'm sure Curt will be glad to talk to you about this," Flint told Moxley at the time.

Pringle never called back.

Eastman was not the only Orange County Republican candidate for attorney general getting spanked by a Sacramento judge for a bad ballot designation.

In the ballot designation worksheet accompanying his nominating documents for state attorney general, state Sen. Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) claimed he is a "prosecutor" based on his participation in the Orange County Trial Attorney Partnership Program, an eight-week volunteer program under which attorneys serve as unpaid deputy district attorneys by appointment of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

Rackauckas, who has endorsed Harman, named Harman a deputy less than a week before the Surf City politico submitted his paperwork for the attorney general's race in February.

Cooley, noting that Harman has not tried a single case, "not even a traffic ticket," filed a writ of mandate barring Harman from being listed as "Prosecutor/Attorney/Senator," which Bowen had approved.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Allen H. Sumner agreed with Cooley, calling Harman's designation "inaccurate" and saying he would have to have at least tried one case to be a prosecutor.

According to the certified list of candidates just released by Bowen's office, Harman is listed as "California Senator."

Tim Rosales, Harman's campaign spokesman, claimed the state senator was "very happy" with the alternate designation, saying the candidate is "very proud of the work that he has done in the Senate."

Yeah, 'cause you know how well voters view sitting legislators right now.

Kevin Spillane, a consultant for Cooley's campaign, says Eastman "didn't only lose his case, he lost his credibility" by losing his challenge to Bowen's decision and by having Frawley further determine Eastman's alternate proposal was inaccurate. 

Spillane also called both judges' rulings "real blows" to the Harman and Eastman campaigns, saying they show his candidate "is the only one with real law enforcement credentials" in the GOP race. 

He's got a point. That candidates for an office sworn to uphold the California and U.S. constitutions would try to pull this shit should make Harman and Eastman pariahs in GOP circles. Then again, it is the party of the Patriot Act, the war on public education and Sarah Palin.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, former Facebook executive Chris Kelly, state Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Freemont) and Assemblymen Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) are seeking the nomination on the Democratic side.

So that explains those "Vote for Pedro" t-shirts.

Incidentally, the Dems' ballot designations identify them as "First Lieutenants of Obama's Fascist-Socialist-Kenyan-Gay-Military-Police State."


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