Is Mike Schroeder a bad lawyer? Or just a bad liar?
R. Scott Moxley recently announced Schroeder’s hackneyed effort to kneecap Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook’s election challenge to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Islamabad). It seems Schroeder took issue with Cook’s reference to herself on the ballot as “Mayor” because she was appointed by representatives. At the time, we had no idea just how hackneyed the effort was. In the marvelous words of the court document, prepared by Judges Rylaardsdam and Ikola:
The theory is that section 13107, subdivision (a)(1) of the Elections Code only allows reference to an “elective city … office which the candidate holds at the time of filing the nomination documents.” (While we do not decide the issue now, we do observe that under this reading of the statute, the President of the United States, having been elected by the Electoral College or House of Representatives, would not qualify.)
The theory was apparently to try to establish that the duties of a mayor in a major city in Orange County are ceremonial at best, so that Cook could not claim that being “mayor” was a principal profession, vocation or occupation under section 13107, subdivision (a)(3). That is a highly counterintuitive proposition at best, given that mayors of cities of the population of Huntington Beach typically are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to major municipal emergencies, have independent powers of appointment, receive extra compensation, serve on regional commissions and are under a duty, often spared ordinary council members, of attendance at ceremonial functions.
Highly counterintuitive at best? Howsabout at worst? Why would such a skilled strategist as Schroeder, allegedly a Machiavellian mastermind pulling the strings behind the Orange Curtain of the OC Republican power structure, make such a boneheaded claim? Not only that, but why would he fail to PROPERLY make such a boneheaded claim? It turns out Secretary of State Debra Bowen is required to make such a call in Congressional primaries, and thus she is what’s known as an indispensible party and must be named in any such complaint.
She wasn’t. Should Schroeder have picked up on that fact? The court seems to think so.
Given the Secretary of States' statutorily required role in the process of Congressional primaries, we have here an almost textbook case where she is an indispensible party. Can “complete relief” be given in her absence? No way.
Schroeder and his coevals again filed their boneheaded suit in Sacramento, and again somehow they failed to properly file it. In the words of Samuel Beckett, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
This time the incompetents, led by California Republican Party Treasurer Keith Carlson (the filer of the suit), failed to personally serve Cook. It may be too late to appeal for any practical purpose, as ballots for the election are being prepared as we speak.
So why would Schroeder, an arguably competent and debatably brilliant plotter of plots, behave so stupidly? Why would he give name recognition to Debbie Cook, a relatively unknown low-level public servant with nothing else going for her but confidence, intelligence, legal experience and a drive to serve her constituents? Is he so afraid of any challenge to the Taliban-loving toll-road warrior Rohrabacher that he simply screwed up? Twice? Or has he detected a sea change in Orange County politics and is now working as a double-agent to humiliate and embarrass the OC Republican Party, and the Californian Republican party as a whole?
A boy can dream…