To catch you up in the Point Center Financial scandal, half of the defendants who'd accused the bankrupt development finance company's founder Dan Harkey of fraud have dismissed themselves from the case. Those hanging on have accused Harkey of shielding funds so they may never collect. Meanwhile, he still gets to live in luxury in Dana Point, and his wife can still try to extend her political career–built partly on the financial acumen she developed alongside her husband. Which brings us to today's open letter she addressed to a political opponent.
Among those the termed-out Republican assemblywoman is facing in her run for the 4th Board of Equalization is outgoing state Sen. Mark Wyland (R- Solana Beach). It's a powerful post; the board is composed of five members, one of whom is the state controller, who rule on a variety of tax law issues and hear appeals. The 4th seat will be open in 2014 because Michelle Steel is termed out.
Wyland tried to make hay out of the dirt–if hay can be made out of dirt–flung at Dan Harkey by the spurned investors, who were unsuccessful in court trying to hitch Diane Harkey onto the case as a defendant. “Unfortunately, there has been a lawsuit brought by a lot of investors of modest means against [Diane Harkey] and her husband for defrauding them,” Wyland said on the ol' campaign trail. “… There was decision that those investors were defrauded and there is a judgment …”
Candidate Harkey immediately pounced on that, saying most investor plaintiffs do not come from “modest means,” accusing Wyland of essentially trying to engage in class warfare. She sued Wyland in September, and he vowed to counter-sue, claiming, “her defamation lawsuit is intended to take away my free speech rights.”
Harkey's swift defense obviously did not sting enough, because instead of letting the court sort it out so she could concentrate on Board of Equalization matters relevant to voters, she just emailed wide the following open letter, obviously buoyed by the PCF investors who bailed on the case:
An Open Letter to Mark Wyland
Why is a San Diego area politician getting involved in a real estate investor lawsuit in Orange County?
Do you do this by routine? Has your office been involved every time an investor lawsuit comes up?
NO. You got involved because you wanted to “score points” in your race for Board of Equalization. That's why you are exploiting the Orange County real estate investor action involving my husband, Dan Harkey, and his former company.
So, you got involved. You met and strategized with the plaintiffs. You encouraged and helped develop their story. You sent your paid political consultant to sit in the proceedings – day by day – to take notes. You even created a website and briefed the press!
But, your plans were shattered when the plaintiffs and judge quickly dismissed me from the very lawsuit you were helping encourage. Most people recognized that naming me in the suit was ONLY a cheap political stunt. Apparently, you didn't get that memo.
In addition, just this week over half of the plaintiffs dismissed their suit against my husband “with prejudice.” Look up the definition, Mark.
So, now what do you do? Your money is spent. Your plans are laid. But, I am no longer involved and most of these plaintiffs that you nuzzled up to have started dismissing themselves from the case! YIKES Mark! Your plans are falling apart.
Well…you decided to spice up the story with several brazen lies…and that's the problem.
You claimed there was a finding of fraud. WRONG. You claimed there was a judgment in the millions of dollars. WRONG. You claimed these investors had no idea about the risks. WRONG. You claimed you “care” about these investors. WRONG.
Predatory lawsuits happen every day in California. They affect businesses and jobs. But, you didn't care. Instead, you attached yourself and encouraged this action. Now, you are scurrying around trying to avoid being held accountable for your own words.
I'm sorry Mark, but we're just asking that you start telling the truth. And, it looks like you will have to begin campaigning on your own record rather than spreading lies about my husband's business.
In the interest of full disclosure: the WRONGs above were in red font in Harkey's original.
Oh, to be inside the heads of state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), former Republican state Sen. Tom Harman of Huntington Beach and former Republican Assemblyman Van Tran of Garden Grove–not to hear the wind howling through but to wonder whether they relish the Harkey v. Wyland smackdown. The trio also intends to run for the 4th seat.