Friday, September 24, 2004
A corrupt state secretary of state: When most people -- Democrats especially -- think of "crimes" committed by a secretary of state former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris typically comes to mind.
However, we here in California have our own really corrupt secretary of state, Kevin Shelley.
The Sacramento Bee has been reporting that Shelley has been using federal funds set aside to improve voter registration efforts and voter education to send his cronies to partisan Democrat Party events.
New information released by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's office Tuesday shows that consultants paid with federal election funds served as his staff at Democratic political events, including a Sacramento lunch that raised money for presidential candidate John Kerry and a fund-raiser for Assembly Democrats.
"Staff activity reports" released to The Bee and other newspapers under the state's Public Records Act show that several of the consultants recorded whom Shelley met at events he attended, introduced him to people and kept track of his activities.
In a report on one of the more blatantly partisan events, consultant Jason Vega wrote that he went with Shelley to a Kerry fund-raiser at the Sacramento home of Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis. She's the daughter of millionaire developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, one of the biggest financial contributors to Democratic candidates in the country. While at the event, according to Vega's report, Shelley spoke individually with more than two dozen prominent Democrats and two people - Julie Sandino and Dan Weitzman - who have raised money for past Shelley campaigns.
The Bee has called on Shelley to resign -- or if he does not, he should be impeached.
The editorial points out that not only has Shelley misused funds, but he's also prevented its proper use by county election officials through sure incompetence.
For example, Jill Levine, Sacramento County's voter registrar, wanted to use HAVA funds to upgrade the training manuals for poll workers in Sacramento. By the time Shelley's office issued the application form, it was too late; Levine had already turned the final training manual copy over to the printers.
San Luis Obispo County Registrar Julie Rodewald planned a voter education program targeting first-time voters, including college students and Latino residents. She wanted to alert them to the fact that the new federal rules required first-time voters to bring identification to the voting booth. Because the application from Shelley's office came too late, she was unable to prepare materials, get them proofed and to the printers in time for the 2004 election. The money she got for that purpose will have to be returned.
This won't have any effect on the November elections, but it will be interesting to see how Shelley reacts to the calls for his resignation. If he does not resign, I think it is unlikely that the legislature will remove him.The California legislature is dominated by Democrats, and they don't really seem the types to go after one of their own.