Only Choi, Gilliard’s Partner, and OC Register Can Rival Sidhu’s Stupidity in Ballot Statement Farce


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Anaheim Ducks owners Curt Pringle and Steven Choi — OJB knows that that role may seem unlikely, but it’s inclusion was a simple accident and we’re not going to proofread it — embrace an extremely expensive and weighty piece of artistic hardware in the Stadium District while Steven Choi tries to ascertain the elusive difference between pointless griping and actual problem-solving.

So here’s what happened.  As the linked Register story states, On March 8 AD-68 candidate Harry Sidhu turned in a ballot statement stating the false claim that he had served as Mayor of Anaheim.  The article states that the advantageous error was made by Dishonest Dave Gilliard’s shop, Gilliard Blanning & Associates.

The perp here seems to have been Natalie Blanning, who stated:

“It was a simple accident. … We write dozens and dozens of these statements, and when you copy something from the bio, or whatever, words get cut out.”

(Blanning is henceforth to be known in the OJB Style Guide as “Simple Accident.”  She’s lucky that while writing she didn’t look Sidhu up on this site, where Vern’s style book indicates that the preferred title for Sidhu is “assclown.”  Perhaps that should have been “former assclown”?  Perhaps not.  I’m not using that graphic here either way.)

Sidhu had personally proofread the statement.  Two days later, apparently the penny dropped and his word-recognition mechanism kicked in, leading him to go to the Registrar’s office and bemoan the fact that the system does not allow him to be saved from his own error — unless he was challenged in court.

“This is a flaw in the law. … They should be able to make us correct it.”

“STOP ME BEFORE I KILL AGAIN” is how I remember it from the horror movies, but even Sidhu’s hand-wringing, if he was ACTUALLY mortified by the error, is misplaced.

Here’s how the system works: within ten calendar days of the close of filing — in this case, that period expired this past Monday, March 21 — Sidhu could have arranged for a “friendly” challenge to the ballot statement.  It would have cost him about $500.  Is that too high a price to set on integrity?  (For some, perhaps —  but in this case it’s hardly been used!)  He doesn’t contest the challenge, the court orders the change, and we’re done.  Problem solved; integrity restored to status quo ante.

Or, if he didn’t want to actually collude with someone to make a challenge, he could have just issued a press release noting the error.  I or someone else would have made the challenge, billed him for the cost of filing and a little time, and again we’re done.  Believe me: someone involved with the Sidhu campaign was smart enough to figure this out (and prevent what I expect will be a slew of “Sidhu LIED about being Mayor!” signs all over the district — perhaps from the makers of classics like “Bad Chi.”  They’re only have to add one letter!)

But … they didn’t do it.  Voters in AD-68 will be misinformed.

Enter the OC Register.  Staff writer Tomoya Shimura wrote a fine article on the topic (the one at the link, in fact), with just ONE TINY FLAW for which its author is probably not responsible:  it came out on March 22, the day after the deadline expired.

I suspect that Shimura turned in his story early enough for it to make a difference because the fifth paragraph reads:

“The statement will appear as it is on the sample ballot pamphlet for the primary unless someone files a lawsuit requesting a correction and the court approves it.”

(Emphasis added.)  This was, of course, impossible without the help of a time machine.

I have a call in to Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley right now to see if there is any way that Sidhu has the discretion to waive that statute of limitations — knowing full well that the court is supposed to apply it as a jurisdictional matter on its own, but this is Orange County so who really knows what might happen.  (Note: Don’t bet on this happening.)

UPDATE:  Kelley reminds me that as his office is the nominal defendant in such a lawsuit, it would assert the statute of limitations on its own.  After all, it has printing deadlines to consider.

Admittedly, I myself could have read Sidhu’s statement last week, but I didn’t bother because I’m too busy with litigation to take on another ballot statement case.  (I didn’t not expect that Sidhu and Simply Accident would offer up a slam dunk like this.)  But do you know who DID do their reading and COULD have issued such a challenge?

The campaign of Sidhu’s (and Chuchua’s) rival, Steven Choi.

Do you know why I can say that with confidence?  Because Choi said on Monday, presumably before the deadline expired, that they were making an affirmative decision to not file a case!

“Irvine Mayor Steven Choi, one of the seven candidates running in the AD 68 race, said he wouldn’t file the suit because it costs time and money, but questioned Sidhu’s integrity.

“‘I was so appalled,” Choi said Monday. “How can a candidate make such a false statement? He’s trying to cheat the public.”

TIME AND MONEY?

YOU GET THE MONEY BACK IN A JUDGMENT AGAINT SIDHU!

YOUR LAWYER CAN EVEN GET PAID BY SIDHU FOR THE TIME!

How much is Choi spending on his campaign?  How much more will he have to spend to compensate for Simple Accident’s allegedly negligent error on the ballot statement that HE was in a position to shut down BEFORE the challenge deadline expired?

And there is your choice of top-fundraising candidates for AD-68, folks.  The guy who couldn’t figure out how to eliminate his own unfair advantage — and the guy who couldn’t figure out that it was in his own interest to eliminate that advantage while he still had the clear opportunity.

This is not intended as legal advice, of course, but conceivably Konstantinos Roditis or Deb Pauly could file a challenge anyway and see if the court will allow it despite the expiration of the deadline, if Sidhu does not challenge the action.  (And if he does — hahahahahhahaha!)  AD-68 Candidate Brian Chuchua probably can’t do so, because his campaign’s legal advisor (Conflict of Interest Disclosure — that’s me!) published a blog post somewhere suggesting that he doubts that a claim would survive.)

(See update above.  Don’t even bother: you can’t sneak anything past Neal Kelley.)

And Special to the Register: if a problem can be solved only by action on Monday, don’t publish the story on Tuesday.  You didn’t need to wait for a quote from Choi.  Obviously, getting his comments was pretty much useless anyway.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)