Governor Gavin Newsom Is Suing His Own Appointed Secretary of State

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With his recall election quickly approaching, Governor Gavin Newsom is suing his own appointed Secretary of State, Shirley Weber. In a new lawsuit that was filed on behalf of Newsom by Olson Remcho, LLP, legal filings show the Governor is seeking to put his party preference on the recall ballot. Interestingly enough, last year the governor and his staff were given the opportunity to state his party preference on the ballot, but they dismissed the paperwork and are now taking action against Weber.

Shirley Weber is a former Democratic assembly member, currently serving as Secretary of State after Alex Padilla. Weber is tasked with certifying the recall election. She took office this past January and was appointed by Newsom himself. The lawsuit against Weber argues that the time frame given to file the necessary paperwork was random and that there remains enough time to allow Newsom to add his party preference to the upcoming ballot. It is not this easy though because, under state law, Newsom had to file his party preference within seven days along with his response to the successful recall petition that was launched in FEBRUARY of 2020. He had the opportunity to state what his party preference was, but he obviously did not take this seriously. Now Newsom and his staff are quickly scurrying to find a way to make this happen despite being given an opportunity over a year ago.

Not only did Newsom appoint the exact official he is now suing, but he signed the exact legislation whose timeline he now sees an issue with.

Officials that were up for recall in the past DID NOT have an option to designate which party they were part of on the ballot. Senator Tom Umberg of Santa Ana took issue with this and wrote Senate Bill 151 in 2019 to get this changed. With Senate Bill 151, officials facing recall are now given the opportunity to state what party they are part of. The proposal from Umberg passed the Assembly with a 77-0 vote and Senate with a 38-0 vote prior to getting the final signature from Newsom.

The lawsuit filed also argues that Newsom is being unfairly penalized by having to file his party preference 16 months in advance, compared to challengers have to 59 days before the election.

The lawsuit states,

"To apply that deadline here would also lead to absurd results,"

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Newsom went on to state:

"The voters would be deprived of the very information the Legislature has deemed important for them to receive, all because the Governor's counsel inadvertently failed to file a form about the Governor's ballot designation at least sixteen months before the recall election has been called and long before it became clear that the recall would even qualify for the ballot."

The office of Shirley Weber would comment on this lawsuit by saying:

"The Secretary of State's office has a ministerial duty to accept timely filed documents... Acceptance of filings beyond a deadline requires judicial resolution."

This is an interesting lawsuit. We will see what comes from this.

For more information on Governor Gavin Newsom's Recall, you could click here.

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