Friday, May 15, 2009

Has Jack Weiss Lawyered Up?

Friday, May 15, 2009

I reported on Wednesday's Rally to Call For An Investigation Into Jack Weiss's Illegal Fundraising.

Thankfully, reporters Sherri Okamoto from The Metropolitan News Enterprise and Greg Katz from The Daily Journal reported the demands of Councilmember Dennis Zine, KRLA 870AM's Kevin James, and your humble servant, to Investigate Jack Weiss's Illegal Fundraising.

Additionally, I demanded that our Police Chief Bratton now withdraw his inflammatory and controversial endorsement of Jack Weiss as Jack Weiss is either a 'Person of Interest' or a suspect in the illegal fundraiser held in Beverly Hills by the disgraced former City Pensions Commissioner Kelly Candaele, who unlawfully hosted a fundraiser for Jack Weiss on April 27, 2009, and who promptly resigned the following day.

I also reported that during the Rally, I was intrigued to see Averill 'Ace' Smith - the Jack Weiss campaign strategist, paying close attention to our Rally.

After the Rally I noticed Averill in a somewhat dejected state, standing head bowed with his hands in his pockets, while some then unidentified sharply dressed male was engaged in an animated conversation with reporters. I took a photograph because it intrigued me. Who was that man? What was he saying? I thought it newsworthy, so I reported separately on what appeared to be a sign of 'Weiss Camp Worries."

Imagine my joy and surprise upon reading Sherri Okamoto's excellent reportage this morning. Sherri identified the sharply dressed male as one of Los Angeles's top criminal defense attorneys; former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven G. Madison, currently a partner with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges LLP.

Sherri Okamoto reported that Steven G. Madison was "Accompanying" Averill - Jack Weiss's campaign strategist. Why would one of LA's top criminal defense attorneys be "Accompanying" Smith at my Rally?

During the lunch hour I received a call from KRLA's Kevin James, who had also read Okamoto's piece. Kevin was fired up "Do you realize who Steven G. Madison is?" he said. "Yes, a criminal defense attorney, how ironic that Weiss, who has vilified the criminal defense bar, would have a criminal defense attorney in tow at the rally." I replied.

But as Kevin James pointed out, Steven G. Madison is no ordinary top defense attorney. It was Steven G. Madison who just recently defended George Tores - the boss of Numero Uno who was convicted on 55 out of 56 federal racketeering charges on April 20, 2009. That's no reflection on Madison; a good attorney with a truly bad client hasn't got much to work with.

Ex Numero Uno Boss George Tores

Kevin James pointed me to an article written by LA Weekly reporter Jeffrey Anderson on April 30, 2009. I recommend you reading the article to get some sense of how corrupt the Numero Uno boss was. If you haven't the time to read the whole article, let me excerpt the really interesting part here, as it may relate to why Jack Weiss's campaign manager had a top criminal defense attorney in tow.

"Yet the jury heard enough to reach a speedy decision: Torres was convicted on almost every count, including his attempt to bribe former L.A. City planning commissioners Steven Carmona and George Luk to secure a zoning permit.

Still, the question remains, how many other public officials were influenced by Torres’ money? How many other L.A.P.D. officers got close enough to Torres to arouse suspicion? The indictment states that an L.A. City Councilman appeared to be waiting in the wings to receive bag money from Torres, via Carmona and Luk.

Who could that have been? Is that person still in office?"

Unfortunately, neither the LA Weekly article nor the Indictment names the "L.A. City Councilman," leaving us to wonder who it might be.

Jack Weiss sits on the Planning and Land Use Management Committee where controversial decisions on zoning variances are often made. It has been widely reported that Jack Weiss has often sided with developers over the interests of his own constituents in granting zoning variances to allow for unpopular developments that are hugely profitable to developers.

Jack Weiss's campaign finance reports show that Weiss receives the bulk of his campaign contributions from developers, contractors, and all the law firms associated with the over-development in Council District 5 that led to the recent recall effort to remove Weiss from City Hall.

Of course, developers, contractors, and their law firms are free to contribute to politicians' campaigns, but in Jack Weiss's case, it has been established that Jack Weiss has received illegal campaign contributions from persons associated with Alan Casen's development company. Illegal campaign contributions that Jack Weiss has steadfastly refused to return in accordance with Campaign Finance Law, and as recently demanded by the California Fair Practices Political Commission.

As recently as April 27, 2009, Weiss again was party to the receipt of illegal campaign contributions, and this time he cannot claim to be 'ignorant' of the illegality, as he voted to appoint the City Pensions Board Commissioner who co-hosted the illegal fundraiser, and he voted for the law making fundraising illegal for City appointees.

So what was Jack Weiss's campaign strategist and spokesman doing with on May 13, 2009, at my Rally with Steven G. Madison, one of LA's top criminal defense attorneys?

I did a little research into Steven G. Madison. All the information I have come from his firm's website. Madison's 'Notable Representations' include the following:

"Represented several witnesses in a political corruption investigation of a sitting Los Angeles City Councilman."

"Represented a City Councilmember in a criminal environmental investigation arising out of waste water spill during an El NiƱo storm; government determined the Councilmember was only a witness, not a subject or target."

Now I stress again that Steven G. Madison is a highly respected and ethical defense attorney. Everyone guilty or innocent has the right to the very finest legal representation they can obtain. I have no doubt whatsoever that based on the information on his firm's website, Steven G. Madison is highly skilled and effective in the defense of Councilmembers.

In Sherri Okamoto's article, Steven G. Madison is quoted commenting on the call for an investigation into Jack Weiss as saying '“what we’re seeing here is…partisan politics infecting the criminal justice system,” insisting that the criminal justice system should not be used to “investigate my political enemy.”'

You might well believe that Steven G. Madison is setting up a defense for any indictment that might result from an investigation into Jack Weiss's illegal fundraising.

The fact, of course, is that we do not know whether Steven G. Madison is Jack Weiss's attorney, or Averill Smith's attorney for that matter. But I think Walter Moore is entirely right to ask of Jack Weiss "Who are your attorney's and why are they representing you?"

The cornerstone of Jack Weiss's vile and deceitful campaign has been repeated demands to know the clients represented by Carmen Trutanich. So Jack Weiss should have no problem in informing us of which defense attorneys represent him, and why. Don't expect Jack Weiss to answer that question. After all, with Jack it's always "Listen to what I say, don't look at what I do."

On a final note, Sherri Okamoto reported that Averill Smith told her that 'Trutanich’s failure to make an appearance at the event [Rally] “speaks volumes about the lack of seriousness of the charges,” and criticized the candidate for lacking the “courage to stand out here himself.”'

If indeed there was a "lack of seriousness of the charges," why was Jack Weiss's campaign strategist and spokesperson there in the first place, and why was he "Accompanied" by one of LA's top defense attorneys who seems to be an expert in the defense of Councilmen?

I cannot put it better than Walter Moore "As a voter, I’d love to know whether this race is between a criminal defense lawyer, on the one hand, and a criminal defense lawyer’s client, on the other hand."

No comments: