Shocked, Shocked, at the Political Hijacking of the Fullerton Recall!

Over the transom comes a link to an open letter by Fullerton Recall candidate Matt Rowe, who has discovered that the Fullerton Recall has been … you will hardly believe this, I know … been hijacked for partisan political purposes!

No, really!  Evidently, the Campaign Director of the Fullerton Recall, Chris Thompson, has sent out a letter to the people who signed the Fullerton Recall petitions out of their legitimate and understandable grief for the killing of Kelly Thomas.  He has urged them to vote for the recall.  Nothing wrong with that!  After all, they signed the recall petitions, it makes sense for the recall campaign to be able to contact them.

But then, but then, but then ….

Chris Thompson continues:

On a personal note, while there are quality candidates to choose from in every race to appeal to the political values of all voters, in my opinion these candidates will best serve to most quickly improve the City of Fullerton:

  • Greg Sebourn to replace Don Bankhead
  • Barry Levinson to replace Pat McKinley
  • Travis Kiger to replace F. Richard “Dick” Jones

Thanks so much to you for your support!

Chris Thompson
Campaign Director – The Fullerton Recall

You know what?  As a candidate in the June 5 election, maybe I’d like to write the people who signed the Fullerton Recall Petition as well!  I’ll bet that Matt Rowe would.  Jane Rands, surely.  Sharon Quirk-Silva, probably.  Jay Chen, Paula Williams, Sean Paden — why not?

And do you know what else?  So far as I can tell, each of us has as much right to use that mailing list for our campaigns as Chris Thompson has to use it for his personal independent expenditure on behalf of his trio of preFFFFered candidates.

I will be writing Chris Thompson by tomorrow to demand the immediate use of this list in electronic form.  Apparently, it’s not a closely held asset of the Fullerton Recall, but something available to all campaigns.  I’d LOVE to write Fullerton voters RIGHT AWAY about what may be happening to their city a week from today!

Matt Rowe is less interested in the “election law” side of things — I’m not even going to get into the implications here — and more interested in the feeling of betrayal.  On his website, he writes:

Chris Thompson Hijacks Spirit of Recall

May 30, 2012 By Matt

Chris Thompson, right-wing activist, Fullerton School Board Trustee, and Friends for Fullerton’s Future blogger, has sent out an email to people who have signed the Fullerton Recall petition (about 17,000 voters), where he urges them to turn out for the vote on June 5th in support of the Recall (good idea), then urges them to vote for his personal choices (bad form).

The recall effort was non-partisan, and it was established chiefly in order to seek justice for Kelly Thomas. I know, because I was there, involved from the very beginning. In order to gather 17,000 signatures for the Recall petition – far more than the 10,000 required – the recall had to appeal to all Fullerton voters, their sense of justice, decency, and community. Conservatives, Independents, and Progressives were all a part of this effort that is helping to bring justice for Kelly Thomas, accountability back to our police department and city council, and the opportunity for renewed progress in our city. Many people from across different Fullerton neighborhoods, economic means, and political leanings took part in speaking out at council meetings, protesting, spreading the word, and gathering signatures –  so that we could have an open and fair election to put our city back on the right track.

It is terribly unfortunate that Chris Thompson chooses only to recognize his personal candidates in this mass email. By doing so, he has put an ideological and conservative imprimatur on an effort that was originally inclusive and non-partisan. Simultaneously, Thompson negates the contributions and hard work of others, who were involved in the success of the recall petition moving forward to an actual election. Please VOTE YES on the Fullerton Recall on June 5th, but also vote your own conscience. Chris Thompson already has a vote. Use yours wisely.


Matt Rowe

Independent for Fullerton City Council

If I had worked as hard as Matt Rowe or Jane Rands — neither of whom I endorse as my first choice in their races, but both of whom I respect — did in working for the success of Fullerton Recall petition drive, I would probably be just as irritated and twice as angry as Rowe is here.  Their own work is being used to defeat them, a possibility that was probably not even mentioned in the fine print when they signed up petition gatherers.  (If Matt is surprised by it, I’m surprised, because I don’t find this at all surprising.)

This puts me into a punishing mood.  What would I want to tell the recall voters?

I’m consistent in my belief that Fullerton needs to recall McKinley and take away the majority that led (and misled) the City.  Either Chaffee or Rowe will be able to form a de facto majority on this issue with Quirk-Silva and Whitaker to take whatever steps have needed to be taken, but which the Council majority has blocked.  (Levinson doesn’t seem likely to compete — except, perhaps, by underhanded tactics like this.  But that can be fixed — and libertarian conservatives have an “ethical” protest vote available in Sean Paden.)

I’ve always been leery of getting rid of Bankhead; it’s unnecessary once McKinley is out, because once out of the majority he’s just going to have to suffer in politically impotent silence.  He may be ineffectual and past his sell-by date, but so long as he can’t do damage as part of a Council majority, there’s not much harm in letting him stay for a couple of extra years.  He doesn’t deserve it, but he has a long-term perspective that could be a useful minority viewpoint on the Council.  (And, if he quits, expect whichever of Chaffee or Rowe doesn’t win to replace him.)

Now, though, I’m wondering if it’s also worth voting against the recall of Dick Jones.  He’s going to be out in the next election anyway; he can’t be enjoying the job much now, and once out of the majority I doubt if he’ll even run.  There are people better situated within his branch of the party to compete with less baggage.  Jones deserves to be recalled — but look at all that money that Bushala is putting into his race!  Plus, now, there’s this “capitalizing on people’s humanitarian response to tragedy” letter.  I do not like this.

I’m still with “recall McKinley, retain Bankhead, and unsure about Jones” for now.  What might change my mind?  Well, let’s see whether Kiger, Levinson, and Sebourn condemn Chris Thompson for hijacking the spirit of the Recall effort for his own political ends.  Gentlemen?  I expect that you’ll have read this….

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. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)