Thursday, January 27, 2005
As Esther Schrader and James Gerstenzang report in the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) voted 4-0 today to order an audit of California's spending of federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds under Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. EAC Chairperson Gracia Hillman cited questions raised by an earlier California state auditor report and by the California Assembly in stating that "legitimate questions" existed about the spending of the HAVA funds.
The EAC's decision is a good one for the rest of us, as we explained in a letter to the EAC earlier this week:
Californians and Americans deserve to know whether taxpayer money intended to improve the accuracy of our elections and to encourage the franchise was so spent, or whether instead it was used to advance the agenda of one man and his party.
As we've written earlier, the EAC audit barely scrapes the surface of Secretary Shelley's problems. Laundered campaign contributions, rushing through the hiring of the son of the same donor who is accused of laundering campaign contributions to Shelley, illegally accepting contributions in his state office, and using employees on the public dime to advance his own political career are among the charges Shelley currently faces.
As Herb Sample reports in The Sacramento Bee, getting to the bottom of the mess which is Kevin Shelley was made more difficult when California legislators - Democrats and Republicans alike - signed a pact limiting the scope of the February 3 hearing by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) to the spending of California's HAVA funds.
Because of the pact, it is likely that Shelley will have a group of guardian angels at the JLAC hearing to ensure that he doesn't have to answer any questions which stray from the agreed-to scope. This means that despite his track record of equivocation and blame-dodging, Shelley likely as not won't have to invoke the Fifth Amendment, which might have had dire political consequences.
It also means that Californians, who have been getting jerked around by this guy for months, will still be waiting for their elected representatives to uncover the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about Kevin Shelley.
Californians deserve better.