Board of Equalization Member Michelle Steel will be forced from her post next year due to term limits. She is actively engaged in an impressive campaign for an open seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Two conservative legislators — State Senator Mark Wyland and Assemblywoman Diane Harkey — are the only credible candidates who have emerged thus far seeking to succeed Steel in this “Safe GOP” BOE seat that encompasses all of Orange, San Diego, Imperial, and Riverside Counties, and portions of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties.
I have known Mark Wyland since meeting him in 1998, and I met Diane Harkey when she ran for Dana Point City Council in 2004. Both are ideological conservatives — both are friends. As such, I have not endorsed either candidate — either would make a solid BOE Member.a
That having been said, those watching the race may have seen the stories about a lawsuit filed against Point Center Financial Inc., Dan Harkey, and Diane Harkey. The suit involves investors to Point Center Financial, Dan Harkey’s real estate investment company. Like so many during the real estate bust of the past decade, Dan and his investors lost money on several projects.
A small group of those investors filed a $43 million lawsuit against Point Center, Dan Harkey and Diane Harkey, claiming breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, misrepresentation, and a host of other charges. Of the 116 causes of action, Diane Harkey was listed as a defendant in 4.
Well, this week, the plaintiffs filed to dismiss “with prejudice” all of these claims against Diane Harkey, save for one which questions an inter-trust transfer of the Harkey home. I’m told dismissal on that won’t be far behind either.
While Harkey has been very aggressive on the campaign trail, there is no doubt that having been included in this lawsuit has been someone of an anchor on her candidacy. As we all know, in a court of law you are presumed innocent until proved guilty. However in the world of politics, it is too often the opposite — unless you can “disprove the negative” you often have problems on your hands.
This action represents a huge victory for Diane Harkey, who had argued her inclusion as a defendant was politically motivated. This certainly takes the proverbial monkey off of Harkey’s back, and provides a boost to her campaign going into the final weeks before campaign reports are due.
I reached out to FlashReport contributor and well-respected Orange County attorney Mike Schroeder (a former State Chairman of the California GOP) to get his take on what this dismissal meant. He told me, “Dismissal with prejudice is pretty strong. It typically means the plaintiffs are admitting they were wrong, and they are agreeing that they will never bring this up again. For Diane, it’s a hallmark development that should silence her critics on this issue.”
This race has a long way to go — with nearly a year until the June 2014 election. And it was and still is a very competitive race. But there is no doubt that this piece of news plays very well for the candidacy of Diane Harkey.