City Manager & Attorney Spent over $20K to Overturn Election
AG Calls City Case “scant, ambiguous, circumstantial and largely unsworn evidence”
The Office of the California Attorney General has issued an official decision throwing out the effort by the City of Dixon to seek removal of City Councilman Devon Minnema.
The AG’s Opinion No.17-601 issued Wednesday afternoon, April 11, 2018, authored by Deputy Attorney General Catherine Bidart, states “Proposed relator (City of Dixon) does NOT raise a substantial question of law or fact that warrants initiating a judicial proceeding, and allowing the proposed quo warranto action to proceed would NOT serve the public interest.” (Editor’s note: Emphasis added.)
That conclusion was on the front page of the opinion and was followed by nine pages of detailed analysis and citations. In that analysis the AG’s opinion noted “the City relies on unsworn statements made by neighbors to its (the City’s) investigator…” The analysis further noted the detailed evidence presented by Minnema, including official documents and sworn statements and affidavits by numerous witnesses.
“After carefully considering all of the evidence present, we find that no substantial showing has been made that would warrant the initiation of a quo warranto action on the question of Minnema’s residency,” the Opinion stated, “In sum, the City’s challenge is based on scant, ambiguous, circumstantial and largely unsworn evidence – as opposed to the direct, sworn statements of action and intent (and supporting documentation) that Minnema has provided.”
“… it would not serve the public interest to perpetuate, or expend scarce judicial resource on, such an inquiry. … the application for leave to sue in quo warranto is DENIED. (Emphasis in the original Opinion.)
City Attorney Doug White commented about the Opinion that, “At the request of several members of the public, the City of Dixon requested permission from the California Attorney General for the right to have a court determine whether Devon Minnema met the requirements to run and hold the office of Councilmember for District 4. Today, the California Attorney General issued an opinion denying the City the opportunity for judicial review of this issue.”
The efforts to challenge Minnema were initiated by City Manager Jim Lindley and City Attorney Doug White based on anonymous complaints. White, on his own initiative and authorized by Lindley, hired private investigator Kevin M. Baker who was been paid an estimated $10,000 or more for his services. That contract was made without prior approval of the City Council.
The Independent Voice – in a front page article on June 7, 2017 – described “The report Baker produced is what is known as “raw intelligence” – not evidence and not admissible in court. There are no sworn statements from any interviewee contradicting Minnema’s residency.” The AG’s Opinion reached exactly the same conclusion.
The IV article further noted “With such a sketchy and non-credible investigation, the cover letter by White exposes his game plan – to pressure Minnema to give up and resign. His letter is rife with threats of ‘criminally punishable’, ‘fraudulently and illegally holding elected pubic office’, ‘serious criminal acts’, ‘possible that his uncle … participated in a conspiracy to perpetrate a public fraud.’”
The IV also stated “The financial intimidation is more serious, and include a highly unethical tactic by White. In seeking legal help to defend against the Quo Warranto request, competent attorneys quoted Minnema fees of $70,000 for full representation and even over $20,000 for simply advising and reviewing self-prepared documents in his defense. As a 22 year old minority currently working as a clerk in a farm supply retail store, he could not afford to spend that much or go that much into debt.”
With Minnema’s total vindication by the Attorney General, there remains the possibility the City may be liable for his legal expenses. Between the tens of thousands White has been paid on this matter, and the additional tens of thousands which should be reimbursed to Minnema, Dixon taxpayers have been ill served by White and Lindley. Those wasted funds could, and should, have been spent on such needs as maintaining city streets.
(Editor’s comment: White’s and Lindley’s actions in this matter have been egregiously detrimental to the city’s finances and council comity. Such misfeasance by appointed bureaucrats seeking removal of an elected representative warrants THEIR removal instead.)