California’s attorney general alleges fraud by a Project Homekey contractor

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta is accusing a contractor with the state’s Project Homekey homeless housing program of putting projects in jeopardy by illegally borrowing against them.

August 2023 photo of Calif. Attorney General Rob Bonta during a press conference in Los Angeles. 
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

In a civil lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Bonta demands that Shangri-La Industries LLC return more than $100 million in Project Homekey funds and asks the court to place the seven properties in receivership.

According to the complaint, Shangri-La took out loans on six of the seven properties without obtaining approval from the state or recording the required affordability restrictions on the properties.

The state learned of the problem when the banks sent notices of default, and all seven properties are now at risk of foreclosure, the complaint said.

The lawsuit also names Shangri-La’s chief executive officer, Andy Meyers; Santa Monica-based homeless housing and service provider Step Up On Second; the limited liability corporations that hold title to the properties; several lenders; and cities and counties where the projects are located.

Three of the projects are in Riverside, San Bernardino and Thousands Oaks, and four are in Northern California.

Los Angeles-based Shangri-La did not respond to a voicemail and email from The Times.

In an interview with the online publication CalMatters before the lawsuit was filed, Meyers blamed the state for taking months to approve the affordability agreements.

“The state has just taken forever to get these agreements out,” he told CalMatters.

Step Up Chief Executive Tod Lipka said his organization, a nonprofit with a mission to house and provide services to chronically homeless people, was “devastated,” not only by being named as a defendant but by the potential harm to its clients.

“For us, the danger is that these projects are stalled and not going to move forward,” Lipka said.

Step Up was involved in the projects only as service provider and had no part in the acquisition, financing or construction, he said.

Shangri-La’s website describes the company as a vertically integrated real estate firm “with dedicated finance, development, and construction business units coupled with in-house design, compliance teams, and select sub-trades.”

Lipka said Step Up had worked successfully with Shangri-La on four projects in Los Angeles using funds from the city’s $1.2-billion Proposition HHH homeless housing bond.

He said he was aware of the loans but was told by Shangri-La that they were proper and necessary for the completion of the projects.

Step Up is owed money for services it has been providing at the buildings in Redlands and San Bernardino, which are completed and occupied, Lipka said.

“We started to learn of significant problems over two months ago,” he said. “It was very upsetting and devastating for us as an organization.”

Lipka said the organization is building in due diligence processes “to ensure this will never happen again.”

The State Department of Housing and Community Development, which administers Project Homekey, released a statement saying Shangri-La “has misrepresented multiple financial considerations and has yet to cure a number of breached contractual obligations.”

“The difficulties they find themselves in are of their own making,” HCD general counsel Ryan Seeley said in the statement.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Rob Bonta Praised Fentanyl Murder Case but Ducked California Legislation on Deadly Drug

Something unusual – perhaps even historic – happened this month in Placer County, in the foothills northeast of Sacramento.

A man named Nathaniel Evan Cabacungan was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder in the death of Jewels Marie Wolf, a 15-year-old girl he had supplied with a fake Percocet pill containing a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Cabacungan is the first person to be convicted of murder for a fentanyl death – a milestone that the victim’s family and law enforcement officials somberly marked in a post-sentencing news conference.

“This is not an honor we wanted, nor one that Jewels’ family deserved,” Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire said. “I think for those of you that witnessed in court the impact statements of Jewels’ parents and loved ones, we truly saw the strength of the human spirit today.”

Prosecutors said that after Cabacungan gave the girl the fentanyl-laced tablet, he left her alone dying in her bed without calling for help and later sold the deadly pills to someone else.

“He had the opportunity to intervene. He had the opportunity to save her life, and he chose to watch her die instead,” Gire said of Cabacungan.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta was one of the officials who spoke at the news conference, telling reporters, “This historic sentencing, again not something that we wanted to happen here, but it is historic. And to me, it’s an example of good law enforcement at its finest, working together, following the facts, building the case.”

Bonta cited the alarming increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses among young people, saying, “It’s cheap, it’s potent and it’s lethal.”

Superficially, having Bonta, the state’s top law enforcement official, at the news conference was quite understandable, even commendable.

However, it had the trappings of publicity mongering and image-building by an ambitious politician who wants to become governor because Bonta was missing-in-action this year when the Legislature was considering bills to crack down on fentanyl abuse – and rejecting many of them.

Bonta’s praise of Placer County’s fentanyl murder conviction implied that he supports tougher sentences for those who distribute the deadly drug, but neither he nor his office supported bills that would have implemented even lesser punishment.

In April, the Assembly Public Safety Committee considered seven fentanyl bills and rejected three that would have increased penalties for fentanyl suppliers. One would affect dealers whose customers die or are seriously injured such as Wolf, one that would punish using social media to sell fentanyl, as Cabacungan did, and a third that would increase penalties for possessing large amounts of the drug.

The committee, which is notorious for rejecting legislation to enhance criminal punishment, shunted aside broad support for the measures from law enforcement groups and emotional pleas from families of fentanyl victims.

Bonta could have appeared to voice his support for the bills, but did not. Nor did he list himself as a supporter.

The committee passed four bills, only one of which would increase penalties for fentanyl possession by raising its classification to that of heroin and other deadly drugs. It was later signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Placer County is trying to crack down on the deadly fentanyl trade.

“Let me be clear: For those that come into our county and knowingly sell their poison, we will come after you,” District Attorney Gire said. “We will prosecute you, and we will do our best to separate you from society for as long as we possibly can.”

Click here’s to read the full article in CalMatters

In Sacramento, Power Can Often Reside Within Families

Saga of Mia and Rob Bonta is at once familiar — and jarring

SACRAMENTO — Inside the California Capitol, political power often rests within families.

Seats in the Legislature often pass from parent to child or from husband to wife. Five members of the fabled Calderon family of Los Angeles County — three brothers, a son and current Assemblymember Lisa Calderon, the wife of a former assemblyman — have served in the Legislature. And a few years ago, Assemblymember Blanca Rubio and state Sen. Susan Rubio made history as California’s first set of sister lawmakers.

So the story of Assemblymember Mia Bonta and her husband, Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, is at once familiar and also jarring.

They are Democrats from the Bay Area city of Alameda. Mia Bonta was elected in 2021 to fill the Assembly seat her husband had held after Rob Bonta was appointed attorney general. The pair have been in the news in recent weeks as reporters questioned whether it was ethical for Assemblymember Bonta to oversee taxpayer funding for the office of Atty. Gen. Bonta. Mia Bonta heads the Assembly budget panel focused on public safety, which had purview over the Department of Justice, which is led by her husband.

Political ethics experts raised concerns about the arrangement, and editorial boards criticized legislative leaders for the apparent conflict of interest. Even Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” weighed in.

“It’s a bad look and it’s only going to reinforce what happens when you have one-party rule,” he said after reporter Ashley Zavala of NBC’s Sacramento affiliate broke the story.

Assemblymember Bonta eventually said she would recuse herself from decisions affecting the Department of Justice. Days later, the separation was made formal when the budget chairman moved oversight of the Department of Justice to a different subcommittee. The immediate conflict appears to have been resolved.

Mia Bonta maintains that her position had been cleared by Assembly ethics officials and that she recused herself to support transparency and stop distractions.

“I definitely note that it’s a thing that needs to be navigated carefully,” she said.

Still, a larger question lingers: Where should public officials who are family members draw the line between their shared interests and their separate responsibilities?

In addition to the many family members who serve together in the Legislature, several state lawmakers have had spouses who work on policy issues that come before the Legislature or serve in local governments that receive state funding.

“I don’t see those situations different from this particular situation,” Mia Bonta said.

The Bontas call themselves partners in life and partners in service. They’ve shared a passion for social justice since they got together as freshmen at Yale. And they’ve used their respective offices to advance some of the same causes.

Last year, Assemblymember Bonta wrote a bill to create an office in the Department of Justice to research policies to curb gun violence. A few months after it stalled in the Legislature, she joined her husband as he announced his department would form the office anyway, but that didn’t spark controversy.

But before Mia Bonta was elected to the Assembly, there was a financial transaction involving the couple that several experts said was legal but unethical. As an Assembly member, Rob Bonta created a nonprofit foundation and solicited donations to it from companies that lobbied the Legislature. He then used the foundation’s money to make a payment to the nonprofit organization that employed his wife.

(He described the $25,000 as a loan in 2020, though tax returns at the time didn’t reflect that.)

It wasn’t the first time Rob Bonta had directed money to Mia Bonta’s employer.

Over several years he donated money from his campaign funds to organizations where she worked, obtaining letters saying the groups would not use the funds for her salary because state law prohibits politicians from using campaign funds for personal benefit. He also asked interest groups to donate to nonprofits where she was employed.

“We’re working on areas of shared passion,” he told me at the time.

After a news story was published about the matter, Rob Bonta stepped down from the board of his foundation and it established new rules prohibiting both members of the couple from making spending decisions and banning donations to organizations that employ either one of them.

And California’s political watchdog agency approved a new rule requiring officials to report their ties to an organization when they ask donors to give money to a group that employs, or is controlled by, the official, their staff or their family members.

“These are relationships with a potential for influence or self-dealing that the public would want to have disclosed,” says a staff report to the commission.

Officials should not direct money to organizations that employ their family members because of the potential for their personal benefit, said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and former president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

In other cases, she said, defining where to draw the line is not always obvious.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California AG’s wife recuses herself from state DOJ budget

California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s wife has recused herself from matters related to the state Department of Justice as part of her duties leading a legislative subcommittee that oversees his budget.

Assemblymember Mia Bonta, a Democrat, announced the recusal in a statement posted online Sunday. She heads Assembly Budget Subcommittee 5, which oversees public safety spending — including that of the state’s justice department, which is led by Rob Bonta.

Mia Bonta’s statement emphasized that while she believes there is no legal or ethical conflict in her role, she has recused herself so Californians “have absolute confidence in the legislative process.”

KCRA had first reported the possible conflict of interest and repeatedly pressed Mia Bonta on the issue.

The budget subcommittee is scheduled to discuss the Department of Justice’s budget on March 27.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon had appointed Mia Bonta to the subcommittee position and noted that the Assembly and Senate must agree on a budget, which then must be either signed or vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

California Attorney General’s Wife to Lead Committee That Oversees His Budget

California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s wife, Assemblymember Mia Bonta, has been tapped to lead a budget committee that oversees and helps determine his agency’s spending, a decision that some political experts say is ethically questionable.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, recently appointed Mia Bonta, as the chairwoman of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee 5, which focuses on how taxpayer dollars are used on the state’s various public safety agencies, including the California Department of Justice. Both Bontas are Democrats.

“It should raise eyebrows,” said Bob Stern, former general counsel for the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission. “What’s going on with them? It seems to me they have a tin ear about ethics.”

“I believe Ms. Bonta will continue to be independent and unbiased in her legislative judgment, as she has been since starting her service in the Assembly,” Speaker Rendon said in a statement, defending his decision. “The Legislature has a robust and transparent budget process, designed with checks and balances to ensure the best possible budget is passed. Our final Assembly budget proposal must be identical to the Senate, and will be approved or vetoed by the governor. Additionally, we can’t set salaries or benefits for state constitutional officers, so no elected official can ever personally or financially benefit from our budget process,” he said.

Assemblymember Bonta told KCRA 3 in a statement she was honored when the Speaker picked her to lead the committee and noted she does not have any unilateral authority to make budget allocation decisions.

“My district is home to the City of Oakland, where gun violence disproportionately ravages communities of color. I have made promoting public safety and reducing recidivism legislative priorities of mine, as these issues are critically important to my constituents,”she said.

“The suggestion of a conflict of interest shows a lack of understanding about the legislative process. My focus is on continuing to fight for safe communities with an unbiased lens and unwavering commitment my constituents expect, and I look forward to taking on this work with my colleagues in the Assembly, State Senate, and Governor’s administration,” Bonta said.

The Attorney General’s office referred KCRA 3 to the Assembly for comment.

Mary-Beth Moylan, a law professor at the University of Pacific, noted the situation does not break any laws.

“One of the things we worry about with respect to conflicts of interest is not only whether it violates the letter of the law, but whether there’s an appearance of impropriety and whether there’s the idea there would be some distrust in the government,” Moylan said.

Moylan added that it might be difficult for Bonta to recuse herself from decisions having to do with the Department of Justice, noting it’s an important piece of the committee’s work.

“If she did recuse herself on that, I think people would still feel like, ‘Well she’s the chair,’ she may still have influence over other members who are on the committee,” Moylan said.

This situation would not be the first time the Bontas have been in an ethically questionable situation. In 2020, CalMatters reported Rob Bonta, who was an Assemblyman at the time, created a foundation that contributed thousands of dollars to a non-profit where Mia was CEO. Stern at the time said the transaction should’ve been illegal. The FPPC has since tightened regulations and requires more transparency in situations such as this one.

Stern said said Thursday that the situation coupled with the budget subcommittee situation “should raise two eyebrows.”

Rob Bonta first became attorney general after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him to the open seat in 2021. His wife then took his open Oakland-area Assembly seat in a special election that year. Campaign finance reports show Bonta’s attorney general campaign has provided $14,940 to his wife’s campaigns for State Assembly. Stern said this happens all the time and isn’t troubled by it.

“But these other two instances I am troubled by,” he said. “Particularly as attorney general, he should have the highest ethical standards of any government official.”

Click here to read the full article at KCRA.com

AG Rob Bonta Lets Gascon Minion Slide

No Pokey for the Wokey

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a close political ally of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, has taken a pass on filing charges against Gascon’s Chief of Staff Joseph Iniguez.

Iniguez, who made headlines for allegedly drunkenly threatening and berating an Azusa police officer, has been under investigation by the California Department of Justice over the incident, possibly for threatening to illegally snuff out the career of the officer, as the Globe recently reported.

According to a court filing submitted yesterday by Iniguez’s attorneys, the Gascon crony is no longer facing potential prosecution for his actions related to an Azusa police encounter because “Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation related to the … case has concluded, with the governing statutes of limitations having expired.”

Bonta’s office confirmed that they are not pursuing charges against Iniguez:

“Since this would have been a conflict of interest for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, we reviewed the entire matter. Given the totality of the circumstances, our office has decided not to pursue charges.”

However, the AG’s office added that the decision was made before the time limit took effect:

“Our office came to that decision before the statute of limitations on any possible charges had run.”

That statement would indicate the decision not to charge was made between Nov. 23 and Dec. 11 of last year, but for some reason they did not inform the public of the decision.

“This really has the stink of politics about it,” said former president of the Los Angeles deputy district attorney’s union Marc Debbaudt.  “If this is just about the drunk in public charge, it would take two hours – max – not eleven months – to determine whether or not to proceed.”

Bonta first became Attorney General by appointment by Gov. Gavin Newsom who, as Mayor of San Francisco, first appointed Gascon as District Attorney there. Bonta and Gascon have worked together on numerous progressive anti-prosecutor “reform” projects over the years and each has endorsed the other for election to the offices they currently hold.

The specific potential charges were not revealed by Bonta’s office, though two criminal matters could have been related to the incident: drunk in public and/or abuse of office by Iniguez allegedly threatening the officer involved.  The DOJ handled the case because the LA DA’s office was barred from investigating one of its own employees and the Azusa Police Department – as is its standard practice due to its size – refers its “high-profile incidents” to other agencies – like the sheriff’s office – for further investigation.

It remains unclear which of the potential charges Bonta’s office focused on; however, their reference to “before the statute of limitations had run out on any possible charges” indicates they are claiming to have looked at both, as the allegation of abuse of power – which is a felony – has a three-year rather than a one-year limit like the misdemeanor drunk in public.

Briefly, the initial incident apparently unfolded as follows: after he and his soon-to-be husband were pulled over by an Azusa officer for making an improper U-turn on December, 11, 2021, Iniguez reportedly became belligerent.

After the officer approached the car he caught a strong aroma of alcohol. Iniguez, the passenger in the car, said he had been drinking and the odor was his.  Iniguez was arrested for public intoxication, though his fiancé – after it was determined he was below the legal blood-alcohol limit – was not charged in relation to the incident.

Iniguez captured the entire incident on video – a video he has never publicly released – that he says shows him acting in a proper and professional manner before being wrongly arrested for public intoxication, a direct contradiction of the officer’s statements that he was slurring, using obscenities, and threatening him with illegally placing him on the “Brady list,” a compendium of cops the District Attorney’s office consider unreliable and/or problematic.

Placement on that list is – at the very least – a career killer, law enforcement insiders said, and Iniguez, as custodian of the list, would have the ability – however unethical and/or illegal – to do so.

Iniguez, for his part, sued the Azusa department for violating his First Amendment rights by allegedly impeding his taping of the incident.  That suit was put on hold until the DOJ investigation was completed so, in theory, it can now move forward. Whether or not it will is unclear, though the dropping of the DOJ investigation does mean that there is now absolutely no potential legal impediment to Iniguez releasing the video he says confirms his side of the story (in fact, if he pursues the suit he must turn it over at least to Azusa’s lawyers.)

Attempts to contact Iniguez’s attorneys were unsuccessful; attempts to elicit a comment from Gascon’s office on the matter were met with silence save for a suggestion to call Iniguez’s attorneys.

Over the New Year, the Globe broke the story of Iniguez being an investigation target, noting further problems with the conduct of both Iniguez and Gascon regarding this matter and the numerous other scandals plaguing the leftist ideologue Gascon’s regarding the administration of his office and his attitude towards the justice system in general.

Bonta himself is no stranger to serious ethical questions, including funneling money to his wife’s Mia Bonta’s place of work.  He also played a major, if unsavory, role in ensuring that Mia replaced him in the Assembly when he was tapped by Newsom as Attorney General. 

Bonta’s incestuous ties to the “one party rule” Democrats and the Sacramento blob have previously raised significant concerns over his ability to operate the DOJ impartially, with eyebrows specifically raised for his takeover of a corruption investigation into another political ally, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

In that case, Bonta has already ordered the return to Kuehl of all the electronic devices seized in a raid on her home.

Considering his handling of the Iniguez case, it appears now that Kuehl can sleep very soundly in the knowledge Rob may take care of her, too.

The Globe appreciates Bonta’s willingness to offer a comment.  In the spirit of full disclosure, though, here are the questions his office was sent:

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California Attorney General Takes Over LA Corruption Probe

California’s attorney general on Tuesday took over a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigation of a county supervisor who had called the corruption probe an act of political retaliation.

California Assemblyman Rob Bonta listens during a news conference as California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces his nomination for state’s attorney general, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Attorney General Rob Bonta announced he was assuming all responsibility for the investigation into contracts awarded to a nonprofit group run by a friend of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

The state Department of Justice asked the nation’s largest sheriff’s department to stop its probe and hand over its evidence in the case.

The Sheriff’s Department released a letter that Bonta sent Tuesday to Undersheriff Timothy K. Murakami that said he has authority to take over investigations “in the public interest” and ordering the department to cease activity in the case, including making public statements or court filings.

For more than a year, the Sheriff’s Department has been investigating some $800,000 in contracts awarded by the county’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as a “social service agency dedicated to the elimination of sexual and domestic violence and all forms of interpersonal violence.”

The contracts were to operate a hotline for reporting sexual harassment on public transit.

The group’s executive director and CEO is Patricia Giggans, a friend of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

The Sheriff’s Department has said it was looking into whether Kuehl was improperly involved in obtaining contracts for the group.

Kuehl is a fierce critic of Sheriff Alex Villanueva and has called for his resignation. She appointed Giggans to serve on the Civilian Oversight Commission that monitors the Sheriff’s Department.

Both have denied wrongdoing in regard to the contracts.

Last week, sheriff’s deputies raided county offices and the homes of Kuehl and Giggans but a Superior Court judge has ordered the Sheriff’s Department to temporarily cease searching any computers and hard drives seized in the raids.

Kuehl and Metro challenged the validity of the search warrants, with lawyers for Kuehl writing in a court filing Monday that raids at Kuehl’s home and office were “politically motivated and retaliatory.”

The filing called warrants for those searches a “flagrant abuse of power and an offense to the rule of law.”

Villanueva had recused himself from the investigation but has discussed it in interviews and on social media as he campaigns for reelection.

Meanwhile, on the day of the raids, the sheriff asked Bonta to look into whether Kuehl and Giggans had improperly received advanced notice of the searches. In Tuesday’s letter, Bonta said he would look into the allegations but also was taking over the Sheriff’s Department probe.

“In recent days, the public unfolding of an unprecedented investigation has raised serious questions for residents of Southern California and beyond,” Bonta said in a statement released by his office. “I recognize the deep uncertainty this has engendered.”

Click here to read that the full article at AP News

The Attorney General’s Taxpayer-Funded Political Advertising

We hate to pick on Attorney General Rob Bonta two weeks in a row, but he’s really given us no choice. Last week we chronicled his hypocrisy on data privacy by posturing as a champion on that issue while negligently allowing his Department of Justice to release sensitive information on Californians who hold carry concealed weapons permits.

What spurred today’s critique was an article in the Sacramento Bee with the headline, “Why is California’s Attorney General spending taxpayer money to send you emails?” First, a hat tip to the Sacramento Bee – typically no friend of conservatives – and its reporter Ryan Sabalow.

The article reports that two months before the June primary election, millions of California voters received an email from Bonta’s Department of Justice with the subject line, “I want to hear from you.” The message was from an official email account and said, “As Attorney General, protecting California and its people is my highest priority” and “your opinion truly matters to me.”

Those receiving the email might have wondered what it was all about. After all, it is unusual to receive an unsolicited email from a state agency unless you’ve opted in to remain informed on a particular topic.

But it’s really no mystery at all. Prior to the primary election, Bonta was serving as the appointed, but unelected, Attorney General. No doubt that his name ID wasn’t very high, and he was willing to do anything possible to elevate his profile. That’s one reason he directed his staff – shortly after his appointment – to include his smiling visage on these email solicitations to as many as 7 million voters.

The Bee article, citing several sources, accurately notes that what Bonta did was technically legal, even if ethically questionable. Indeed, the question of the extent to which elected officials or government agencies expend taxpayer dollars for political advocacy or “self-promotion” is one that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association gets a lot. In fact, our Public Integrity Project was formed precisely to monitor and to litigate when necessary illegal expenditures of public funds for illegal activity.

Fortunately, HJTA has had a string of successes in the courtroom including an action against the County of Los Angeles for producing a slick television ad advocating the passage of a sales tax to address homelessness. That action resulted in a $1.3 million fine against the county. Other successful legal actions include a suit against California’s then-Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, for spending an unauthorized $35 million contract with a politically connected public relations firm that referred to itself as “Team Biden” on its own website, ostensibly for nonpartisan “voter outreach” and public education.

The bad news is that there is a very high bar to prove illegality when it comes to public expenditures for non-election-related public relations campaigns. Rarely will an elected official or government entity be so foolish to use taxpayer funds for ads that say “Vote for Me” or “Vote for Measure X.”

But just because “outreach” communications, such as those emails sent by Bonta, may be technically legal, that doesn’t mean that they are ethically defensible. The attorney general is responsible for enforcing the law against other Californians. It looks pretty bad for him to skirt the law himself.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Calif. Attorney General Leaks Names and Addresses of State’s Legal Gun Owners Following SCOTUS Gun Ruling

‘Vindictive sore loser bureaucrats have endangered people’s lives and invited conflict by illegally releasing confidential private information’

Last week the Supreme Court issued a decision striking down a New York gun law that puts unconstitutional restrictions on concealed carry of a gun out in public, as the Globe reported.

Less than one week later, it appears the California Attorney General leaked the state database of names and addresses of the state’s legal gun owners and concealed carry permit holders.

How could this happen – is it accidental or deliberate? California gun owners cheered the Supreme Court’s decision reaffirming that state officials cannot require concealed carry applicants to show “proper cause” and “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community.”

The Reload reports:

“The California Department of Justice’s 2022 Firearms Dashboard Portal went live on Monday with publicly-accessible files that include identifying information for those who have concealed carry permits. The leaked information includes the person’s full name, race, home address, date of birth, and date their permit was issued. The data also shows the type of permit issued, indicating if the permit holder is a member of law enforcement or a judge.”

The AG’s Firearms Dashboard Portal is currently down:

The Reload reported they reviewed a copy of the Lost Angeles County database and found 244 judge permits listed in the database including the home addresses, full names, and dates of birth for all of them. “The same was true for seven custodial officers, 63 people with a place of employment permit, and 420 reserve officers.”

Last year Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 171 into law, which allows the state to share personal information of gun owners with gun violence research organizations.

Bill analysis of AB 171 specifies “the DOJ may at its discretion, also disclose specified information, to other nonprofit bona fide research institutions that are accredited by the United State Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation for the study of violence prevention in the matter prescribed. Requires that any material identifying individuals to only be used for research and statistical purposes and prohibits reports or publications derived from the material from identifying any specific individuals. Requires DOJ to establish procedures for these requests and allows researchers to be charged reasonable fees related to their requests.”

The Reload reported that the office of Attorney General Rob Bonta confirmed private information had been exposed and said they are examining the situation.

“We are investigating an exposure of individuals’ personal information connected to the DOJ Firearms Dashboard,” a spokesperson for the office told The Reload. “Any unauthorized release of personal information is unacceptable. We are working swiftly to address this situation and will provide additional information as soon as possible.”

The Reload published a statement from the California Rifle & Pistol Association, which they say “slammed the leak and said it was looking into potential legal action against the state.”

“Vindictive sore loser bureaucrats have endangered people’s lives and invited conflict by illegally releasing confidential private information,” Chuck Michel, CRPA President, told The Reload. “CRPA is working with several legislators and sheriffs to determine the extent of the damage caused by DOJ’s doxing of law abiding gun owners. Litigation is likely.”

Attorney General Bonta announced the new and updated firearms data available through the California Department of Justice (DOJ)’s 2022 Firearms Dashboard Portal in a press release Monday:

“Transparency is key to increasing public trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve. As news of tragic mass shootings continue to dominate the news cycle, leaving many with feelings of fear and uncertainty, we must do everything we can to prevent gun violence. One of my continued priorities is to better provide information needed to help advance efforts that strengthen California’s commonsense gun laws. Today’s announcement puts power and information into the hands of our communities by helping them better understand the role and potential dangers of firearms within our state.”

“Instead, the leaked private information of gun owners is likely to increase the risk criminals will target their homes for burglaries–something the state’s dashboard reports happened 145,377 times in 2020 alone,” the Reload reported.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Pick-Your-Opponent Ploy Fails for Rob Bonta

It was a ploy, much like one first used in the modern era of California politics by the late Democratic U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston in his 1986 reelection bid. The tactic worked that time.

But radio ads that hit California airwaves in large quantities during May, as the primary election approached, did not work this spring.

The ads touted the state attorney general candidacy of previously little known Republican candidate Eric Early, the most conservative hopeful in the running and an unapologetic supporter of ex-President Donald Trump.

They were funded primarily by a pro-labor political action committee whose desire was to create as easy a path to election as possible for the appointed Democratic incumbent Rob Bonta, by far the most liberal candidate in the field.

Bonta backers did not want his November opponent to be the most credible Republican in the field, former prosecutor Nathan Hochman, a party-backed hopeful who pledges to be tougher on criminals than Bonta – a longtime supporter of the “no-cash-bail” system overwhelmingly nixed by voters in 2020.

Bonta has also threatened numerous cities with costly lawsuits if they don’t knuckle under by OKing large amounts of new housing construction as called for by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, whose figures have been labeled unreliable by the state’s nonpartisan auditor.

The radio ad sponsors plain hope was that California’s top two “jungle primary” would give Bonta an opponent far less electable than Hochman might turn out to be. But Hochman holds a significant edge over Early with most votes counted. The final count might not be known for weeks, but Hochman is Bonta’s apparent November opponent.

As an incumbent in a state where no Democratic statewide officeholder has lost a reelection bid since the 1980s, there was never much doubt Bonta would win the primary. But one nuance of top two is that even with a clear Bonta majority in the primary, he still would need to run again in November against the No. 2 finisher.

Knowing this, Bonta’s supporters wanted to split the Republican vote between Early and Hochman and allow no-party-preference candidate Anne Marie Schubert, the Sacramento County district attorney, to sneak into the fall runoff. That didn’t happen, as Hochman took second place and  Early third, both far ahead of Schubert.

Bonta backers figured Hochman could be tougher for Bonta to beat because he had major-party backing, while Schubert was strictly on her own and Early would be hurt by strong anti-Trump feeling in California.

The system is significantly different today than in the pre-top two days when Cranston, feeling threatened by the moderate Republican Silicon Valley Congressman Ed Zschau, encouraged backers to donate more than $100,000 to American Independent Party candidate Edward Vallen, who used it mostly for radio ads strikingly similar to this spring’s ads touting Early. They essentially said Zschau was dishonest, claiming Vallen and Cranston were the only candidates in the race with integrity.

Cranston eventually won reelection by just 104,000 votes, while Vallen pulled 109,000, including many that figured to go to Zschau if the ultra-conservative Vallen had not been a factor, albeit a minor one.

The ploy infuriated Republicans at the time, but it worked for Cranston, very likely responsible for the last of the four terms he served before Democrat Barbara Boxer won his old seat in 1992.

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