The local political hard right’s effort to oust incumbent county clerk-recorder Greg Diaz — led by tea party supporter Barry Pruett and endorsed by none other than our Congressman Tom McClintock — failed miserably in last year’s election.
But that hasn’t stopped our local hard right contingent from slinging mud at Diaz — a “decline to state” registered voter and a veteran of the clerk-recorder profession — over a copyright lawsuit that, to me, also has some political undercurrents.
Though the case is still underway, some of them have acted like the “judge and jury” in hard-right blog postings, even bringing up allegations of “corruption” but without proof.
Now you wonder if their next target is our county district attorney, Clifford Newell. Like Diaz, Newell was elected to a nonpartisan post (but, OMG, he’s also left leaning).
This weekend, the hard right jumped on a report in The Sacramento Bee that “Nevada County DA took special ‘hard money’ loan favors.” The article is here.
Pruett, who told us he would stop blogging, went to the trouble of posting not only the Bee article — but a “tease” of it — this weekend. The first post was last night and the second was at 1:54 a.m., when most of us were sleeping.
Russ Steele also has posted the article with a comment, “Will this corruption eclips [sic] the ongoing Diaz/County/Aptitude Solutions law suit for violating copyright laws?”
Though comprehensive, the Bee’s report is not new. Newell’s personal financial problems — including delinquent property tax payments — was reported in the local media. His involvement in “hard money” loans also has been widely discussed in the community and in court documents.
Newell did nothing illegal, though the Bee article questions the ethics. “When asked, Newell said he followed up on complaints as well as he could given his small staff of nine attorneys.
“First elected in 2006, Newell said he recently opened prosecutions against contractors who allegedly misused investor money and has carefully avoided conflicts of interest.”
The Bee ignores that Newell did help prosecute local “hard money” loan broker Thomas Hastert — a big error of omission in its investigative report. The Hastert case was one of the biggest cases of its kind in Northern California.
In fact, a joint press release of the prosecution was issued by Newell and then-state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office. It was a major news story.
I am not defending Newell. In fact, I’ve raised questions about conflicts of interest like this before, as well as the “good old boys network” that can create an insular culture.
But I do not think it will damage Newell’s political career much, and it’s important to note how the hard right appears to be “circling the wagon” on Newell — just as it has done with Diaz.
The issues being raised are nonpartisan ones.
Barry Pruett, are you going to run for county DA next? Good luck!
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