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Recall of Allen Breaks GOP Rules, Attorney Says : Legislature: The Assembly Speaker is entitled to a hearing before state Republicans can finance an effort against her, her lawyer warns in a memo to party officials.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a legal warning shot, an attorney for Assembly Speaker Doris Allen is demanding that the embattled lawmaker’s own party cease efforts to fund a recall against her.

In a pointed memo to state Republican officials, Allen’s attorney said the party violated its own rules when chairman John S. Herrington urged support of the recall in a highly critical letter to GOP activists late last month.

Dana Reed, an Orange County attorney representing Allen, contended that the Cypress Republican is entitled to a hearing and various administrative remedies before the party can spend money on a recall.

“The Speaker was angered by the letter, as I think any Republican would be angered,” Reed said Tuesday. “We wanted to remind the party that Doris Allen is now, has been and always will be a Republican, and it would be inappropriate for them to fund a recall against her.”

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Herrington and other party leaders said the July 7 warning from Reed appears to be the first salvo in what could become a protracted legal battle. The party engaged in a series of courtroom skirmishes as it waged a successful effort to recall maverick GOP Assemblyman Paul Horcher of Diamond Bar earlier this year.

“To me, it’s a bold threat,” Herrington said. “I think it’s saying: We’ll sue you. . . . Any time you drag in a lawyer, you’re talking courts, you’re talking money, you’re talking legal delays.”

The state party leader, who dispatched his fund-raising letter under the auspices of the state GOP, argued that the party is legally entitled to expend money against Allen.

Republicans accused Allen of being a traitor after she was lifted to the Assembly’s top perch by a solid bloc of Democratic lawmakers. The Orange County GOP, the state party’s board of directors and a cavalcade of state Republican lawmakers have come out in support of the recall.

Party activists have accused Allen of being a puppet of Assemblyman Willie Brown, the longtime Democratic Speaker, and of turning on lawmakers in her own party after they chose not to support her campaign for the speakership. Assembly Republican Leader Jim Brulte, for instance, was stripped by Allen of most of his staff and relegated to an office once occupied by Horcher. Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga was the Republicans’ candidate for Speaker.

“She declared war on the Republican Party,” Herrington said Tuesday. “She has crossed the line. She set out to humiliate these people. And she has done damage to the California Republican Party, making it really the laughingstock of the entire country.”

Such fighting words aside, Herrington said the GOP would put off any further activity in the Allen recall until party officials vote on the issue when they come together in September for an annual state convention. Herrington said that he remained confident that the party’s delegates to the convention would vote to back the effort.

He also said leaders of the Allen recall campaign, which has already gathered about one-third of the voter signatures needed to put it on the ballot, are doing fine without the party’s help.

In the meantime, he said, the state GOP will focus on its summer voter registration drives, political training camps and the August recall of Democratic Assemblyman Michael Machado (D-Linden), whom Republicans accuse of breaking a campaign pledge not to support Brown for the speakership.

Officials in the Speaker’s office had a decidedly different view.

They suggested that the GOP’s decision to remain on the sidelines for now is a big coup for Allen because it will deny recall backers key resources, most notably the state party’s nonprofit postal permit, which cuts the cost of direct mail in half. The Orange County Republican Party, which has voted to dump Allen, does not enjoy such postal privileges.

Allen is particularly eager to neutralize the state party because it was one of the prime movers in the Horcher recall, pouring money and volunteers into the effort.

Reed said efforts by Allen’s opponents to draw a parallel between her and Horcher are misguided. He noted that Horcher bolted from the party and declared himself an independent when he chose last December to back Brown for Speaker, but Allen has remained a Republican. In addition, Allen enjoys the support of five Republican Assembly members, Reed said.

Reed maintains that Herrington’s letter violated Allen’s due process rights under the party’s own bylaws. Those rules state that disputes between the party and a member such as Allen are subject to a hearing before the state Rules Committee, an appeal to the party’s board of directors and mandatory binding arbitration before a neutral hearing officer.

“For the [party] to redress its dispute with Speaker Allen by expending monies supporting her recall prior to the exhaustion of all administrative remedies . . . is in our opinion a direct violation of [her] rights as a member,” Reed said in his letter.


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