Capitol Alert

Josh Newman supporters file lawsuit to stop GOP recall effort

Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, during Senate session on the state budget at the Capitol on June 15, 2017.
Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, during Senate session on the state budget at the Capitol on June 15, 2017.

The campaign opposing the recall of California Sen. Josh Newman unveiled a lawsuit Thursday calling on a judge to stop the effort from moving forward.

The suit, filed in Sacramento County by three Newman supporters, alleges that the petition to remove the freshman Democrat from office violates California election law with false statements about the Legislature’s $52 billion transportation deal and a sanctuary state bill Newman supported. The lawsuit, which names Secretary of State Alex Padilla and proponents of the recall effort, also alleges that the recall campaign falsely claims the petition will stop the gas tax.

A lawyer working for Newman supporters said the violations serve as grounds for the court to stop the petition from continuing to circulate among voters and halt the recall process.

“This suit is about nothing less than the integrity of our election process; a recall election simply should not be certified when signatures were gathered based on lies to voters,” said James Harrison, an attorney with Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, LLP, in a statement. “To allow voters to be duped, as the California Republican Party has attempted in (Senate District) 29, is a clear violation of the public interest.”

Newman said the suit appears to be a necessary response to the GOP’s attempt to underhandedly game the system.

“Using out-of-district money to hire paid signature gatherers, who will do or say whatever it takes to earn their commissions, in order to trigger a special election under false pretenses isn’t exactly what Hiram Johnson had in mind in 1911 when he proposed the recall process,” Newman said.

The lawsuit is the latest action in a contentious recall battle in Senate District 29.

Carl DeMaio, a Republican talk radio host, initiated the recall against Newman, D-Fullerton, shortly after the Legislature passed the sweeping transportation bill. At the time, DeMaio said he was prompted to launch the recall effort over Newman’s gas tax vote and to eliminate Democrats’ super majority control of the state Senate. Newman won the historically Republican Senate District by fewer than 2,500 votes in November.

“Josh Newman refuses to accept accountability for his disastrous vote to raise the car and gas tax and instead has chosen to blame others for the recall against him with lies and frivolous lawsuits,” DeMaio said Thursday.

Earlier this week the California Republican Party said it turned in nearly 85,000 voter signatures to county election offices – 20,000 more than necessary to force a vote on the recall in Senate District 29. The same day Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to change the rules governing recall elections that was written in response to the alleged signature-gathering violations. The changes are expected to benefit Newman’s chances of defeating the recall.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna