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The New York Times reports on the travails of Kevin Shelley, one of the most prominent Democratic officeholders in California, who now faces numerous investigations for corruption and malfeasance. Nor is Shelley the only Democratic leader that finds himself on the defensive on the legal front:
Six months ago, Kevin Shelley, the California secretary of state, was generating national attention for his efforts to ensure the integrity of the voting process and was considered a promising candidate for governor or the Senate.
Now Mr. Shelley, from a well-known San Francisco Democratic family, finds his political career in tatters because of scandals involving fund-raising and the way he has spent tens of millions of dollars of federal election money to carry out the voting overhaul he trumpeted. He is facing investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a federal grand jury, a state personnel board, the California Legislature and the federal agency that provides money to states to upgrade voting systems.
Several California newspapers have called on Mr. Shelley to resign. A Democratic state senator has announced she will challenge him in 2006, and leaders of the state Democratic Party, while publicly supportive for now, quietly say they hope he will quit. His handling of the federal election money will be the subject of a hearing by a joint legislative committee on Monday, but it appeared that he would not be forced to testify.
Apparently, Shelley learned at the feet of disgraced former governor Gray Davis. Davis also used his influence to leverage big contributions and reward them with huge contracts with the state, and Shelley's alleged actions show the same crudity of corruption. That's not where the parallels end, either. Three former staffers, all female, have filed complaints about Shelley for abuse and sexual harassment. And also like Davis, Shelley has a notorious temper that has left him with few friends even within his own party to defend him.
Shelley isn't lonely in his position, either. Democratic heavyweights Don Perata, the state Senate majority leader, and Mayor James Hahn of Los Angeles (the latest in a line of political Hahns) find themselves the subjects of criminal investigations for corruption and favoritism. The long single-party reign of Democrats in the Golden State has resulted in predictable rot, and the people who should have understood best how much the Democrats risked losing are the ones who apparently have thrown it away.
All of this plays perfectly into Arnold Schwarzenegger's reform-minded administration as governor. Repeatedly emphasizing his outsider status, he used his State of the State speech to call for serious reforms, both budgetary and procedural, to alleviate the huge burden of government on Californians. With the tales of corruption flowing from the left side of the aisle, the Democrats may find themselves unable to defend their political turf. Arnold may find the key to freeing California from one-party rule, if Californians can come to their senses and start voting the rascals out of office.Sphere It View blog reactions
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The New York Times reports on the travails of Kevin Shelley, one of the most prominent Democratic officeholders in California, who now faces numerous investigations for corruption and malfeasance. Nor is Shelley the only Democratic leader that finds ... [Read More]
Tracked on January 9, 2005 4:01 PM
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