Fired in recent days as executive director of the California State Bar, former Orange County state Senator Joe Dunn has filed a lawsuit claiming his ouster was retaliation for his whistle-blower revelations concerning "egregious improprieties" within the organization, the Los Angeles Times is reporting tonight.
Dunn, who has run the organization for four years, claims in his Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that prior to his Nov. 7 termination he'd complained about "ethical breaches, prosecutorial lapses and fiscal improprieties" involving State Bar President Craig Holden and Jayne Kim, the bar's chief trial counsel, according to Times reporter Maura Dolan and Maria Denzio at Courthouse News Service.
The gregarious, sharp-witted, Minnesota native represented central Orange County from 1998 to 2006, and won national acclaim for leading the state senate's investigation into Enron's nefarious role in the 2000-2001 energy crisis. Though decidedly progressive in political stances, Dunn enjoyed friendly working relationships with conservative Republicans. A 2003 OC Weekly profile noted his "hardcore, unapologetic Democrat" public image that included an eagerness to discuss class-warfare issues.
After departing the legislature in 2006, Dunn worked as CEO of the California Medical Association and joined the state bar in 2010.
In its announcement of Dunn's termination today, the state bar said Holden and deputy executive director Robert Hawley will "exercise immediate executive oversight" on an interim basis.
According to the Times' report, Dunn–who is represented in his lawsuit by celebrity attorney Mark Geragos–claims he received "glowing performance evaluations" over the years.
The state bar provides licenses to California's quarter of a million lawyers and monitors ethical complaints.
With the assistance of Orange County labor union officials, Dunn was instrumental in the 2009 creation of Voice of OC, the online government affairs newspaper based in Santa Ana.
He'd worked as a product liability attorney prior to his public service.