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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Secretary of Shame
The more I learn about California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, the less I like him. Today, California State Auditor Elaine Howle released a report detailing how Shelley misspent the tax dollars that you and I give to the federal government.

After the huge election problems in 2000, Congress finally decided that America needs to have voting technology that counts votes accurately. So, they passed what they called the Help America Vote Act that authorized 3.9 billion dollars for states to upgrade voting machines, conduct voter education, and create a statewide voter registration database. So far, so good.

Today we learned that the State Auditor thinks that Shelley's "disregard for proper controls and poor oversight of staff and consultants led to questionable uses of HAVA funds." He inappropriately did not use competitive bidding to award HAVA contracts. Moreover, the report finds Shelley "bypassed the Legislature's spending approval authority by inappropriately executing voter outreach consultant contracts valued at $230,400 and then charging the associated consultant costs of $84,600 to its fiscal year 2004-05 HAVA administration account."
This is on top of past news that Shelley:
* Won his election with the help of illegally laundered contributions (see my op-ed here)
* May have illegally accepted a campaign contribution in his government office, and
* Used HAVA funds to hire contractors who did political work on Shelley's behalf.

Mr. Shelley says he did not know about the laundered contributions, some of which came from a state grant that he helped arrange while he was in the Assembly. But, I've posted here a spreadsheet of his 2002 contributions for Secretary of State. Note that Patrick Hsu's $50,000 contribution was the largest contribution Shelley received from an individual (except a $200,000 loan that came late in the campaign). This contribution from Hsu was actually a down payment that Hsu made on a property to Julie Lee, who instead laundered the money over to Shelley's campaign. Lee was one of Shelley's key fundraisers. The $25,000 contributions from Cabrillo Construction, Steve Chen, Eric Zhu and Gemini advisors are also all linked to Lee, who is under FBI investigation. Is is possible that Shelley really knew nothing about the source of some of his largest contributions?

If Kevin Shelley can't stay on top of his own campaign fundraising or adequately oversee the HAVA Funds, maybe he lacks the attention to detail necessary to be our state's chief elections official.

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