Allen Attorney Sues to Block Recall Petition : Politics: Claim alleges improper wording could mislead voters. Speaker’s foes scoff.


An attorney for Assembly Speaker Doris Allen filed a lawsuit Wednesday in an attempt to block a recall effort against the embattled lawmaker, whom Republican colleagues accuse of being a traitor in cahoots with the Democrats.

The lawsuit contends the recall petition circulated by Allen opponents does not contain the proper language prescribed by the state elections code and could mislead voters who sign.

“We believe they need to start all over with a proper and legal petition,” said Larry Goldenhersh, a Los Angeles attorney hired last week by Allen.

Goldenhersh filed the lawsuit against Secretary of State Bill Jones, whose office was responsible for reviewing the recall petition and approving it for circulation. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, seeks to have the recall declared invalid.


The attorney said that Jones “breached his duty” by allowing the petition to be circulated even though it does not contain a “fundamental element” required by state elections law--a concrete demand for a recall and election to name a successor. Instead, the Allen recall petition says that her opponents “intend” to seek her recall and election of a successor.

“Voters could view it as a canvassing of their opinion as to whether they might consider sometime in the future bringing on a recall,” said Goldenhersh, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of two Orange County voters who believed they had been misled when they signed the petition. “You couldn’t determine that you were signing something that would trigger the spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a bankrupt county for a recall.”

Jones could not be reached for comment.

Recall proponents, who contend Allen is a puppet of the Assembly Democrats who elected her Speaker in June, argued that the lawsuit was splitting hairs and did not pose a threat to their campaign. Allen foes say they have collected more than 20,000 signatures of voters in her Orange County district and are confident they can get the 26,000 needed in the next few weeks.


“I think Doris Allen is the one trying to mislead voters, not us,” said Jeff Flint, recall campaign manager. “It’s very clear that what we’re circulating is a petition seeking her recall.”

Flint said Allen is following the same strategy pursued by maverick former Assemblyman Paul V. Horcher, who was removed from office earlier this year by voters in his Diamond Bar district. They were angered when he bolted the Republican Party and cast the decisive vote that kept then-Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) in power.

“Paul Horcher failed, and I’m sure that Doris Allen . . . will fail as well,” Flint said.