Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury released the findings Wednesday of a 10-week investigation by his office of reports that Assemblywoman Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) used her clout to keep her frequently ticketed daughter behind the wheel.
The 97-page report asserted that Wright "has demonstrated a clear pattern of attempting to obtain special treatment for herself and her daughter with the police, the courts and the Department of Motor Vehicles."
Bradbury's office found that Wright improperly intervened to keep her daughter, Victoria, from losing her driver's license or going to jail as the result of 28 traffic violations since 1981. Nevertheless, he said, the inquiry "found no clear-cut criminal violations that would warrant prosecution."
In a written statement, Wright responded that "in spite of the amount of time, energy and countless tax dollars he spent trying to find something illegal, he found nothing." She said the inquiry by fellow Republican Bradbury was politically motivated and called his report "shameful." Her statement did not address most of the specific allegations.
Following is a thumbnail chronology of the report's account of Wright's efforts on behalf of herself and her daughter.
Oct. 8, 1978: Wright, then a Simi Valley city councilwoman, persuaded Simi Valley police to void a traffic ticket that she received. Wright refused to sign a citation for driving without her headlights on at night and demanded that the watch commander be called. Sgt. William Schwartz subsequently decided to void the citation "due to the possible problems that Wright could make during the negotiation process," the report states. The police union was engaged in salary negotiations with the council at the time.
Dec. 6, 1983: Wright unsuccessfully tried to fix a parking ticket with Simi Valley police. "You know what to do with this," she told the watch commander when she left the ticket at the police desk. It was returned to her to be paid.
March 14, 1988: Wright called a deputy district attorney, who was the prosecutor that day of charges against Victoria for speeding and driving without a license. Wright identified herself as an Assembly member and said she hoped that Victoria would not be sent to jail, which would cost her daughter her job.
March 28, 1988: Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) called Ventura County Municipal Judge Herbert Curtis III shortly before Curtis was to hear Victoria Wright's misdemeanor case for driving without a license. Curtis, a Democrat, said Brown identified himself as a close friend of Cathie Wright and said that Ventura County judges were too tough on traffic offenders and that Victoria did not deserve to go to jail.
May 18, 1988: Wright asked Simi Valley Police Chief Lindsey P. Miller to "take back" a speeding ticket that Victoria had received. When he declined, she asked whether he could have the officer who issued the ticket call in sick at the time of the trial, thereby dismissing the charge. Miller refused. A year earlier, Wright had voted for a law that made it a crime for police chiefs to destroy a ticket before it is filed with the court.
June 6, 1988, or Sept. 7, 1988: Wright asked Miller to void one of Victoria's traffic citations. Again, he refused.
June 13, 1988: Wright represented her daughter at a DMV license suspension hearing in Sacramento. Her request that her daughter be given a license restricted to driving to and from work was denied. At this point, Victoria had 25 moving violations since 1981, five in the past eight months.
June 15, 1988: Wright asked Miller to intercede with a judge assigned to hear Victoria's traffic case. Miller declined.
June 26, 1988: Wright visited Municipal Judge Bruce Clark at his home and discussed two speeding citations for Victoria that were pending before Clark. The next day, Clark entered a decision to dismiss both citations in exchange for Victoria attending traffic school--even though county policy was to dismiss only one violation every 12 months for traffic school.
July 8, 1988: Prompted by a letter from Wright to DMV Director A. A. (Del) Pierce, a veteran DMV administrator was sent from Sacramento to Van Nuys to hold a hearing for Victoria. Despite calling her record "horrendous," the administrator revoked the suspension and granted her a restricted license to allow her to drive to and from work.
Oct. 3 or 4, 1988: Wright told Simi Valley City Manager Lin Koester that Simi Valley police were "picking on my daughter." Koester then contacted Miller, who said "there was no indication" that individual officers or the department was singling out Victoria. Koester informed Cathie Wright of that and told her that "Victoria's driving posed a danger to herself and others."
Nov. 6, 1988: Wright visited Ventura County Municipal Commissioner John Paventi at his home to discuss additional traffic citations that Victoria had received. Paventi, who had been advised by a Simi Valley police officer about Wright's intercession on her daughter's behalf with others, secretly tape-recorded the conversation. Wright said she was trying to keep Victoria from losing her license or going to jail, according to Paventi. He subsequently disqualified himself from the case.