View Full Version : GOOD NEWS: Shelley quits as KA Sec of State!

02-06-2005, 9:57 PM
Didn't Shelley author some very bad anti-gun legislation (AB-35, HSC)? Well, if we can get more anti-gun bigots OUT of this Commie State and not have them come back into power, this will turn the tide in our favor indeed! http://www.calguns.net/banghead.gif GOOD RIDDANCE and slam the door on your head on your way out! http://www.calguns.net/laughroll.gif


Shelley's shock, soul-searching
Confidants describe days leading up to politician's resignation, as recognition of snowballing crisis -- and its costs -- dawned

- Lance Williams, Christian Berthelsen, Vanessa Hua, Chronicle Staff Writers
Sunday, February 6, 2005

Last month, after state Sen. Gloria Romero became the first Democrat to call on Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to resign in the face of converging ethics scandals, Shelley called her immediately.

California's embattled chief election officer wasn't angry, Romero said in an interview. Instead, he launched into a "soliloquy" over whether to stay in office and fight multiple allegations of ethical and financial improprieties, or simply walk away from a lifetime in politics -- and his $131,250-per-year public job.

"There was a recognition that this was a hard road for him personally, for him politically," said Romero, D-Los Angeles.

"He had not come to a conclusion when I spoke with him. He talked aloud. I listened to him," Romero said. "It was almost stream-of-consciousness. ... It was a serious conversation quite frankly I would have preferred not to have. "

In the weeks leading up to his resignation Friday, Shelley made many phone calls -- to former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, retired lawmaker John Burton, state party chief Art Torres, and a long list of other friends and advisers. Often, according to his friends, Shelley lapsed into monologue, weighing what he should do. They portray him as uncertain about what to do, genuinely shocked at the turn in his political fortunes.

In the end, Shelley told confidants, it was not the weight of the evidence that drove him from office: To them, he insisted he was innocent of wrongdoing, arguing that there was no evidence that he had either directed the improper use of federal voter funds or laundered donations into his political war chest, two of the allegations being probed by state and federal investigators. He also faced allegations of abusing and sexually harassing his aides.

Instead, when he decided to quit, Shelley told friends he was doing so to spare himself and his family the emotional and financial cost of defending himself. "At some point, it becomes unbearable emotionally and potentially financially," said Darry Sragow, a political strategist and friend of Shelley's who spoke with him frequently in recent months.

"At a certain point you say, 'I want this to stop.' "

Although Shelley had spent a lifetime in politics, friends portray him as unprepared for the buffeting his reputation took since August, when The Chronicle first reported on a series of problematic donations he obtained from Julie Lee, a prominent Chinese American businesswoman.

Shelley "had never seen, and I've never seen, something like this blow up so big," said Chris Gruwell, a Shelley friend and a lobbyist for Platinum Advisors in San Francisco. "There was always a sort of feeling of, 'How much worse can it get?' And it kept getting worse."

Shelley felt "genuine disbelief," he said

In January, legislative leaders began to demand Shelley's testimony at a Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing into the alleged mishandling of voter funds. Shelley wanted to put on a forceful defense. But his lawyers warned that any misstatements might be grounds for a perjury charge.

"The JLAC hearing put Kevin in a fundamentally untenable position," Sragow said.

Legal costs also weighed heavily. Shelley already had spent $256,000 on lawyers and public relations in connection with the crisis, using $100,000 from a $500,000 home loan to pay a portion. At the rate he was spending, Shelley feared he might have to spend millions. "That's a daunting figure for a public servant who's never been focused on making a lot of money," said Gruwell.

Still, Shelley seemed ready to battle it out -- at least until he won assurances his legal troubles would end and that he would have another job somewhere.

Neither assurance, however, was forthcoming, sources said -- no job, no deal. Nevertheless, the tipping point apparently came Wednesday night, after his 84-year-old mother collapsed and was rushed to the hospital with double pneumonia. When Shelley arrived at her bedside, one confidant said, his mother quizzed him on whether he would be able to keep his job -- or find another one.

"I'll be all right," Shelley replied, by this account.

"Are you sure?" the mother asked. Moments later she slipped into unconsciousness.

By Friday morning, Shelley had made up his mind to resign and began notifying people.

Besides Brown, Burton and Torres, Shelley called Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But, according to Capitol sources, he didn't alert his lawyers, his subordinates in the secretary of state's office or the Democratic leadership in the Legislature. He called Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez 10 minutes before he made his announcement at 4 p.m. Friday.

"In the last couple of weeks, it all just seemed to accelerate," Torres said. "I think people just wanted it to be over."

Shelley's fall was replete with ironies.

As a lawmaker, Shelley had been a staunch supporter of workers' rights and organized labor. But throughout his career -- and especially since becoming secretary of state -- he was accused of subjecting his own staff to humiliating and abusive treatment. The State Personnel Board questioned how his office could have lost a sexual harassment complaint against him rather than dealing with it according to law.

Another irony involves Shelley's career-long support for clean-government laws. As a supervisor Shelley pushed to create the city ethics commission, and as a lawmaker he championed campaign finance reform.

But a federal grand jury is investigating the source of $125,000 in problematic campaign donations Shelley received from Lee during his 2002 campaign for secretary of state. The donations appeared to have been diverted from a state grant that Shelley helped arrange for a nonprofit headed by Lee.

A final irony involved Shelley's stance as a nonpartisan elections officer. Shelley boasted that he had managed the complex, intensely partisan 2003 gubernatorial recall election without a glitch or a hint of spoil. But now Shelley is under investigation for allegedly diverting $1.5 million in federal Help America Vote Act grants to hire Democratic Party operatives and advance his own political career. The state auditor has concluded that the state may have to repay some of the misused funds, which were earmarked for nonpartisan get-out-the-vote efforts.

It was a sudden end to the career of a second-generation San Francisco politician who had seemed uniquely positioned -- and connected -- to rise to the top of California Democratic politics.

Shelley is the son of the late John F. "Jack" Shelley, a longtime San Francisco congressman who was mayor from 1963 to 1967. Trained as a lawyer, Shelley never practiced law. Instead, he took a series of political jobs, starting in the 1970s as an aide to the late Rep. Phillip Burton, the city's famed liberal powerbroker.

Burton was known for a volcanic temper. Between Burton and his distant, demanding father, Shelley himself had often been on the receiving end of the same sort of angry outbursts that in later life he inflicted on his own staff, said one longtime friend who asked not to be quoted by name.

In 1990, Shelley ran for office himself, winning a seat on the Board of Supervisors with the support of what was still called San Francisco's "Burton machine:" Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was Burton's successor in Congress, then- Assembly Speaker Brown, and veteran Assemblyman John Burton, brother of the late congressman. Six years later, Shelley was elected to the Assembly from the city's west side, again winning with the machine's backing.

In 2002, Shelley ran for secretary of state, winning a grinding Democratic primary campaign against March Fong Eu, who had served in the post for 20 years. Shelley trailed Eu for most of the race, but with a final-days advertising blitz -- paid for, in part, by the suspect donations from Lee --
he managed to win.

When he bested Republican Keith Olberg in the general election, he seemed positioned for an eventual run for governor. His handling of the recall -- and his efforts to combat fraud in electronic voting systems -- further burnished his political reputation.

The unraveling of Shelley's career began with the reports in The Chronicle about the Lee donations. Those stories were followed by reports about sexual harassment claims and the alleged abuse of the federal voting funds. The barrage of headlines never really let up, and Shelley only occasionally responded. In recent months he rarely appeared at his office, telling staff that he would work from home.

Political veterans and Bay Area supporters recalled Shelley's great promise and were stunned and disappointed by his downfall.

Agar Jaicks, former chairman of the Democratic Central Committee, remembered Shelley from his days as a handsome young aide to Phillip Burton.

"Kevin was another generation coming along that we hoped would carry the torch," he said.

Joan-Marie Shelley, his older half-sister and the former head of the teachers union in San Francisco, said her brother had gone back and forth about resigning.

He wanted "to fight and clear his name and demonstrate his integrity to the world," she said. "But the feeding frenzy was impacting his office and he was terribly concerned about the effect on his family."

Some supporters, like Pius Lee, a Chinatown real estate businessman who hosted fund-raisers for Shelley, predict an eventual return to politics. "He learned his lesson now," Lee said.

Others, like Walter Johnson, recently retired secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, are not so sure.

"There would have to be a lot of changes and a clear understanding of what the goal is and how do you reach it," he said. "I feel sorry for Kevin and his family. I'm sure his dad would not be very happy."

Julie Lee hung up the telephone Saturday when asked for comment about Shelley's resignation.

About a half-hour before his resignation Friday, Shelley called John Burton to let him know.

"He wasn't happy with it, but whenever you make a tough decision, there's relief," said Burton. "I think Shelley's a fighter, but worrying about his mother makes the rest of this bull -- pale in comparison."

Although there was nothing in place by the time he resigned, it was expected that the party would help Shelley find employment.

"He's a lawyer -- they'll get him a job," said a Democratic political consultant who asked not to be quoted by name. "If nothing else, he'll sit in some law firm and draw 6K a month for the rest of his life."

Chronicle staff writers John Hubbell, Phil Matier and Andrew Ross contributed to this report.

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URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/02/06/MNGJ4B6UE51.DTL

Mike Searson
02-07-2005, 3:40 PM
One down...many more to go!

Perata will be next and when he goes there will be dancing in the streets of the sane areas of Alameda county.