Ministry of Dissent Suppression
Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027
Phone (800) 869-1884
Toll Free: (Orders Only) (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959
California's Ministry of Dissent Suppression
Victims Petition Supreme Court
By David Codrea
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment VIII, Bill of Rights, United States Constitution
Can the state destroy your life by an administrative ruling, without a jury trial, declaring that your Eighth Amendment rights have been waived against your will?
Is it even possible to waive Eighth Amendment rights? Under what imaginable circumstances could the state assume constitutional authority to do that which they are specifically forbidden to do?
These are not rhetorical questions. This is not a theoretical scenario. This is happening right now, and the target of state revenge is a leader in the fight to reclaim our unalienable right to keep and bear arms.
I've written about Russ Howard's case before. I've done a follow-up on it. I care about this story not just because Russ is my friend, but because his ordeal could be forced on any of us fighting for political change.
Howard is a former NRA director and director of Californians Against Corruption, a coalition of pro-gun activists that spearheaded two 1992 special election campaigns and a 1994 recall against Senator David Roberti, co-author of the Roberti-Roos "assault weapons" ban. It was California's first legislative recall to qualify for the ballot since 1914. The effort forced Roberti to exhaust his huge campaign war chest so that he lost his next election.
There were collateral effects. As Senate President, Roberti was expected to dole out campaign cash to other Democrat candidates. CAC made him spend it on his own campaigns, costing other Democrats their seats. Howard had researched recall procedures and written an innovative business plan that explored dynamics and strategy of recall elections and professional recall qualification. He shared it with Republican Senator Rob Hurtt and aide Jim Camp, who soon afterwards led the recall of a Republican "turncoat" Assemblyman. All this aided a resurgence of Republican influence and convinced Democrats to put gun control on the back burner for several years.
Howard had built a recall coalition that included Ted Costa, head of People's Advocate, a principle group responsible for Proposition 13 and other tax cutting initiatives. Howard gave Costa the recall blueprint, convinced him to join the coalition, coordinated mailers and joint press conferences, and so on. Costa later went on to organize and lead the recall of California Governor Gray Davis.
CAC and its supporters were harassed throughout the Roberti recall campaign. Death threats and intimidating phone calls were received. Break-ins occurred. Phone lines were cut. Supporters found their names printed in newspapersalong with insinuations that they were affiliated with white supremacists (Howard's maternal grandfather was a rabbi!)
In response to these criminal intimidation tactics, Howard made complete financial disclosures, but temporarily withheld selected identifying information in order to protect contributors from further harassment. For that, California's Orwellian-named "Fair Political Practices Commission" (FPPC) levied the largest administrative fine in American history against Howard and CAC treasurer Steve Cicero, $808,000 (now approximately $1.5 million with interest). That is over 10 times what CAC raised during its entire seven years of operations, and exceeds the total of ALL FPPC fines in its first 15 years of existence. By way of comparison, this is a larger fine than the Federal Elections Commission imposed on ALL DEMOCRAT PARTICIPANTS COMBINED in the 1996 illegal Chinese campaign contributions scandal involving millions of dollars, and that was a clear case of criminal conspiracy, with people fleeing the country to avoid subpoenas and prosecution!
Consider that of 404 counts charged against Howard and Cicero, "352 were multiple counts of the same approximately 100 donations: One count for failure to disclose a donor's full name, one for the same donor's full address, one for the same donor's occupation, one for employer, and one for donation amount; this despite the fact that partial and usually full names, accurate donation amounts, and city and state had been reported in nearly all cases. Moreover, the FPPC knew that CAC had in nearly all cases not intentionally withheld occupation and employer; that CAC had always requested that information from its donors, but was unable to provide it to the FPPC because donors had rarely provided it to CAC; that CAC could not force donors to provide it."
This is the only time in its history that the FPPC has itemized each possible aspect of a violation and imposed the maximum penalty on each. And here's the kicker: Had Howard failed to file any reports at all, the total fine would have been at most $12,000. This is clearly an act of political revenge.
The judicial conspiracy against Russ Howard is also a damnable outragethe administrative judge who ruled against CAC, Lloyd Connelly, was a former political and business crony of David Roberti, a former assemblyman who CAC had named as a recall target, a partner in a firm that had represented Senator Roberti's PAC, and a financial contributor to Roberti's campaign through his own PAC. Yet despite these clear conflicts of interest, Judge Connelly refused to recuse himself from the case.
In a further act of contempt, the courts have told Howard they consider him to have waived his Eighth Amendment rights! The implications of this declaration for those trying to peaceably affect the political process is nothing short of administrative terrorismespecially when you consider that CAC was essentially successful in ending David Roberti's political career. This scared the hell out of those in charge, who can't afford to let mere citizens think they can get away with such challenges. The penalty for such insubordination by the little people must be so terrible no one will dare try it again!
This is what Russ and Steve are up againstall because they protested those assaulting our unalienable rights under color of authority. Their lives are put on holdany wages they might earn, any property they might accumulate, are subject to seizure without recourse. They are victims of naked, in-your-face political tyrants bent on destroying them as an example and then daring the rest of us to follow a similar course.
If we accept this, if we allow Russ and Steve to be crushed and abandoned, how long will it be until the rest of us involved in preserving our rights are similarly victimized by authoritarian judgments citing arcane "justifications"? Who will come to our aid? Is this how we reward citizen leaders who summon the courage to step forward on all of our behalf?
Some may be inclined to second-guess Howard's decision to withhold information. They may forget that we have a long tradition of anonymous political speech that has contributed greatly to our freedom (remember Madison, Hamilton and Jay writing as "Publius" in the Federalist Papers? Besides, there is ample precedent to justify his actions under current settled law.
In Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court called for waiving disclosure under "reasonable probability [of] threats, harassment, or reprisals from... Government officials or private parties...harassment of members... or... the organization itself... A pattern of threats or... public hostility... [R]eprisals and threats... against individuals or organizations holding similar views."
In Brown v. Socialist Workers Party (1982), the Court held that if there was reasonable probability disclosing donors might lead to threats, harassment, or reprisals, it could exempt a campaign from disclosure laws.
In NAACP v. Alabama (1958) the Court said: "[C]ompelled disclosure of affiliation with groups engaged in advocacy may constitute a...restraint on freedom of association... This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations... Petitioner has made an uncontroverted showing that on past occasions revelation of the identity of its rank-and-file members has exposed these members to economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility. Under these circumstances, we think it apparent that compelled disclosure of petitioner's Alabama membership is likely to affect adversely the ability of petitioner and its members to pursue their collective effort to foster beliefs which they admittedly have the right to advocate, in that it may induce members to withdraw from the Association and dissuade others from joining it because of fear of exposure of their beliefs shown through their associations and of the consequences of this exposure."
Rather than decry Howard's actions, Americans should laud and embrace them, and resist surrendering their rights to privacy, freedom of association and expression. CAC disclosed a hell of a lot more than the Founding Fathers would have, and they would not have apologized for it. They would never have submitted to this nonsense.
Russ and Steve have not given up. They have filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The Court has assigned the case Docket No. 03-1023.
Per Russ on this latest development: "Just talked to a clerk. Feb 17 is the deadline for the FPPC to respond. No conference will be held until after that. The decision to grant or deny will likely come a month or two after Feb 17 (let's say mid-March through April). It takes four to grant cert, and he thinks it takes four to remand back to the lower court. He also said there were no problems with our application and format."
Russ and Steve need legal funds not only for the Supreme Court case, but for other legal strategies as well, including possible civil rights lawsuits against the FPPC and its officers.
Larry Pratt at Gun Owners of America has this to say: "The anti-gun extremists in California are trying to do to Howard what he did to Roberti. But whereas Howard worked through the electoral process with money voluntarily given for the cause, Roberti, Roos and Connelly are using tax money to conduct a vendetta through the machinery of government. Please step up to the plate. Don't let Russ Howard be hung out to dry..."
Aaron Zelman of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership agrees: "The ban on constitutionally-protected ownership of military style firearms that Howard and Cicero fought against started in California, but quickly mutated into a federal ban endangering all of us. Likewise, the persecution of Howard and Cicero could happen to any of us--could happen to YOU--if we don't win this case and hold those responsible for this tyrannical ruling accountable. This is ultimately a threat to YOUR freedom to participate in all levels of grassroots activism. We cannot win this case to protect your freedoms unless YOU support it."
Aaron has stepped forward to assist Russ and Steve by offering generous incentives for people who help. Donations through JPFO are TAX DEDUCTIBLE. Depending on the donation, you get:
* FREE copies of Award Winning JPFO Books:
- The State vs. The People ($75 donation)
- Death by "Gun Control" ($60 donation)
- Hope ($50 donation)
- Dial 911 and Die ($35 donation)
- The Mitzvah ($25 donation)
* FREE copies of JPFO's outstanding documentary Innocents Betrayed (see www.jpfo.org/ib-orders.htm). [Also see my review of this important work at http://www.keepandbeararms.com/information/XcIBViewItem.asp?ID=3624] For every $100 donation, you get a free copy of Innocents Betrayed ($35 value).
FREE certificates for courses at the famed Front Sight Training Institute and Resort near Las Vegas (www.frontsight.com). For a $300 donation you get the videos and a certificate good for any one of these classes:
- 2-Day Rope, Rappel, and Climb ($800 value)
- 2-Day Defensive Handgun ($600 value)
- 2-Day Tactical Shotgun ($600 value)
- 2-Day Practical Rifle ($600 value)
(Note: Certificates have terms and conditions including a $50 payment for a background check. Please see "The Fine Print" on www.jpfo.org/alert20031016.htm).
Make checks out to "JPFO" and please write "CAC Defense" in the memo. Checks should be mailed to:
CAC Defense Fund
1500 Voorhees Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Online donations can be made at http://www.jpfo.org/cac.htm. Please follow donations with an email to CAC@CACDefenseFund.org advising of the amount and date.
Those who don't want the tax deduction (or the free videos or certificates) can write checks directly to "CAC Defense Fund" and donate online at: www.CACDefenseFund.org
Please join us in helping Russ Howard and Steve Cicero fight for your freedoms.
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