As first reported by San Diego Rostra on Saturday and covered by John Hrabe on FlashReport today, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey is suing fellow Republican and Senator Mark Wyland in response to comments he is said to have made in July (the links provide the details; a copy of the lawsuit is reposted here).
As readers may know, Harkey and Wyland are vying to follow Michelle Steel on the State Board of Equalization when she terms out next year.
The number of times I’ve heard candidates say they’re going to sue an opponent? Probably during just about every campaign in which I’ve been involved. Dozens of times, at least. In the heat of the campaign, at some point the reaction to a mail piece, or a commercial, or an opponent’s public statement of some kind, inevitably includes, “I’m going to sue that (fill in the blank)!”
Yet, it rarely happens, for a host of reasons.
Rarer still, my guess, is a sitting member of the California legislature suing a colleague. Educated readers, let me know how often that’s happened in the last several years.
So, given the rarity of such a suit and the likely resulting buzz, I as well as others thought it important to reach out to Harkey. As FlashReport publisher Jon Fleischman wrote in a comment on SD Rostra, “There is news value to this post as it brings to light for the first time the existence of this lawsuit … But my initial reaction is that it seems a bit extreme to file a lawsuit because your political opponent is making hay over your family legal issues … let’s see how this plays out, and if Harkey is willing to make the case for why taking Wyland to court was a reasonable course of action.”
In reply to Fleischman’s and my request, here’s a statement released by the Harkey campaign:
“Diane Harkey has chosen to protect and defend her reputation against the malicious attacks levied by the Wyland campaign. That’s why she has filed, independent of her Board of Equalization campaign, this legal action that seeks to protect her name and reputation.
“The Wyland campaign sent consultants to sit in the courtroom and monitor the Point Center proceedings. They clearly know Diane Harkey was dismissed from the suit long ago, as the judge agreed she had nothing to do with the company. The Wyland team also knows there was no finding that Point Center defrauded its investors.
“Still, the Wyland campaign has breached a rarely crossed line of propriety by attacking Diane Harkey for her husband’s business successes and challenges. In the process, the Wyland team has grossly misrepresented the actual facts – wrongly claiming that the judge found investors had been defrauded.
“These careless attacks are more than typical political mudslinging. Rather, they present false information with the potential of personally damaging Dan and Diane Harkey.
“The fact is, the Harkeys are well respected in the Orange County community. Diane built a successful 30-year career in banking and finance, and is now one of the Legislature’s most respected fiscal experts. Dan and Diane Harkey have earned a good reputation through years of community involvement, charitable giving, and thoughtful civic leadership.”
I’ve also requested a statement from Wyland and will follow up when it’s received.