Ezola Foster’s Request to Seal Records Is Rejected
A judge on Friday declined a request to seal the workers’ compensation records of vice presidential candidate Ezola Foster but allowed her attorneys time to appeal his decision before making the records public.
Foster, the running mate of conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, filed a claim for disability payments based on a mental health condition that she has refused to disclose.
The former Los Angeles schoolteacher filed the claim in 1996, shortly after leaving her job as a typing teacher at Bell High School.
Buchanan is battling for recognition as the legitimate candidate of the Reform Party, founded by billionaire industrialist Ross Perot. Physicist John Hagelin, leader of a rival faction, also claims to be the party’s nominee. At stake is $12.6 million in federal campaign funds.
In an interview with The Times last month, Foster said she has never had a mental condition. She said she quit her job because of the hateful and threatening reaction of teachers and students on the campus to her outspoken opposition to illegal immigration. She said she had no physical injuries and so based her claim on “whatever the doctor said that, after working with my attorney, was best to help me.”
Foster filed the motion to seal her workers’ compensation file in response to The Times’ request to see her records.
Foster’s attorney, Tanya Garza-Sutton, argued during a hearing Friday that despite being a candidate for vice president Foster retained islands of privacy that protected highly sensitive information such as her family history, mental health and treatments.
Times counsel Alonzo Wickers countered that there is a 1st Amendment right for the public to review court proceedings and that Foster gave up her right to privacy by voluntarily submitting her medical records in the hopes of obtaining benefits.
Before making his ruling, Judge Semial R. Treadwell asked Garza-Sutton to determine whether Foster would withdraw her motion to seal the records. When she declined, Treadwell ruled against her motion, saying he found that the public’s right to disclosure outweighed Foster’s right to privacy.
Foster was on the East Coast campaigning.
Meanwhile, Buchanan’s campaign acknowledged Friday that it ran out of money in July, and federal election officials said the campaign failed to file a monthly finance report as required by law.
Buchanan spokesman Brian Doherty said the campaign had about $30,000 in the bank Friday but was in the red in July because $170,000 in federal matching funds did not arrive until August.
He said that had nothing to do with the missing report, however.
“It was filed late Thursday,” Doherty said. “Our assistant treasurer was out sick.”
But the Federal Election Commission had not received it as of 5 p.m. Friday, which could complicate its effort to decide which of two rival Reform Party candidates is entitled to a $12.6-million subsidy.
Reuters contributed to this story.
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