Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed

Tag: Andy Pugno

Did They Know Justice Alito Is Male?

by Brian Leubitz

In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, the Matier and Ross column “outs” Judge Vaughn Walker:

The biggest open secret in the landmark trial over same-sex marriage being heard in San Francisco is that the federal judge who will decide the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, is himself gay. (SF Chronicle)

For those in the San Francisco legal community, this isn’t really much of a surprise at all. It’s not that Vaughn Walker is closeted, more that he just doesn’t talk about it in the way that Antonin Scalia doesn’t talk about his sexuality.  In 2010, we can, and should, be allowed to pursue whatever relationships, sexual or otherwise, without somebody discussing it as some sort of tawdriness.

This will most certainly make headlines in the right-wing media. The news hadn’t really filtered over there very much, so for many this will be the first time to hear about it.  But state Senator Mark Leno (D-SF) makes an excellent point:

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who has sponsored two bills to authorize same-sex marriage that were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said that as far as he’s concerned, Walker’s background is a nonissue. “It seems curious to me,” he said, that when the state Supreme Court heard a challenge to Prop. 8, the justices’ sexual orientation “was never discussed.”(SF Chronicle)

Taking it that one step further, we all have a background. We all have some mix of racial, geographical, socioeconomic and other backgrounds. And they are all mixed up with who we are. We can’t take those labels off no matter how independent or fair you are.  Yet some will still see this as sort of bias.

So, did anybody comment about Justice Alito’s gender when he wrote the outrageous opinion in Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire that said that under the Civil Rights Act women could not sue after 180 days from the discriminatory decision, even if they didn’t know about the decision for years? The decision that ultimately spurred the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act because it was so egregious.

The fact is that we can never separate ourselves from our identities. Judge Walker was randomly assigned this case, and has been reasonable througout.  But that won’t stop Andy Pugno from questioning Walker in as sly of a way as he can think of:

“We are not going to say anything about that,” Pugno said.

He was quick to assert, however, that Prop. 8 backers haven’t gotten a fair shake from Walker in court. He cited both the judge’s order for the campaign to turn over thousands of pages of internal memos to the other side and Walker’s decision to allow the trial to be broadcast – both of which were overturned by higher courts.

“In many ways, the sponsors of Prop. 8 have been put at significant disadvantage throughout the case,” Pugno said. “Regardless of the reason for it.”(SF Chronicle)

Why were they at significant disadvantage? Oh right, because their “witnesses” were so excited to testify and so confident that they didn’t want their faces to be shown. And because the campaign team wanted to hide the lengths that they went to exploit the fear and biases of the 2008 electorate. When it comes down to it, their weakness was their case. Prop 8 creates 2 distinct classes of people, and whether that happens in this case or down the road, ultimately that will be seen as a clear violation of the Constitution.

275 Comments February 7, 2010

Did Andy Pugno Break State Law In Support Of Marriage Ban?

by Robert Cruickshank

The Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs today filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission today against Andy Pugno, one of the key figures behind the effort to ban same-sex marriage in California.

The complaint, which is included below as a Scribd embed, alleges that Pugno misused public funds while on the staff of State Senator Pete Knight in the late 1990s to help the campaign to pass the so-called “Knight Initiative” – a California version of the Defense of Marriage Act banning same-sex marriage. This went to voters in November 2000 as Proposition 22 and was approved with 61% of the vote. This was struck down by the California Supreme Court in May 2008, and in turn Pugno and his allies in the leadership of the LDS and Catholic Churches put Prop 8 on the ballot to change the state constitution to ban marriage. The evidence suggests that not only was Pugno involved with those institutions involved in the planning and management of Prop 8 as we learned at the trial, but that their collaboration goes back into the late 1990s and may have violated state law.

[scribd id=26064355 key=key-1j3u8b8kl30ctlm1z5f2]

Pugno is of course the general counsel to, and a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 5th District State Assembly seat. He is a key figure in the campaign strategy used for both Prop 22 and Prop 8, and for the legal defense of Prop 8 in both the California Supreme Court and in Judge Vaughn Walker’s federal courtroom. As longtime Trial Trackers know, Pugno also played a key role in trying get this website shut down by suing Courage Campaign over the logo we use at this site.

Here’s what led to the filing of the complaint. On Wednesday investigative reporter Robert Salladay published an article on Pugno’s involvement in the Prop 22 campaign while on the payroll of the California State Senate. Specifically, it was alleged that Pugno used public resources of the State Senate – phones, faxes, stationery – to vet the proposed initiative with Mormon leaders. Salladay included a letter Pugno wrote on February 26, 1998 to BYU law professor Lynn Wardle. The letter was on California State Senate letterhead and asked Wardle to review proposed ballot language with an eye toward ensuring it could pass at the ballot box. It was also reported that Pugno may have used public funds to travel to Arizona for a “strategic consultation” meeting with LDS leaders that same year.

That appears to be in violation of the Political Reform Act, which governs issues such as this. In fact, Salladay’s article quoted FPPC staff on this very point:

As for Pugno using Senate letterhead for a political issue – and asking Wardle to use the government fax machine and phone lines – the law is fairly strict. One regulation does allow for “incidental” campaign use, but Roman Porter, executive director of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said about cases like this in general: “The use of public funds for campaign purposes is unlawful.”

Based on the letter and the other evidence reported, Rick Jacobs filed the official complaint against Pugno with the FPPC. He also wrote to Attorney General Jerry Brown seeking an investigation (see that letter here) and to the Secretary of the Senate, Greg Schmidt, seeking public disclosure of various documents related to Pugno’s campaign work while on the staff of Senator Knight (see that letter here).

Here’s what Rick Jacobs had to say about the filing:

The new and troubling disclosures appear to demonstrate willful disrespect for the laws and rules governing the conduct of public servants. If he broke California law, how can he expect to be elected to office to make California law? Andy Pugno needs to be investigated and any appropriate consequences levied for his actions.

We will keep you posted on what happens with the FPPC complaint and other requests for investigation and public disclosure we have filed.

175 Comments January 29, 2010

And So This is It

by Brian Leubitz

My tireless job of saving you the dirty task of wading over to the protect marriage website is never done, or so it seems. Fear not, for I have digested some of the nonsense, and will try to decode some for my fellow Trial Trackers.

Pugno’s post wrapping up the testimony phase of the case was pretty simple, and boils down their case to one, relatively comprehensible, paragraph:

Meanwhile, we have shown that limiting marriage to its longstanding definition is rational because marriage benefits children, not just the adults. Whenever possible, it is best for a child to have both a mother and a father. And man-woman marriage is the only human relationship that can biologically serve that distinctive purpose. A same-sex relationship can never offer a child both a mother and father. It’s that simple.

And their case is really that simple. Sperm meets egg. That’s it. Finito. But take a look around our vast, diverse country, past the world that Protect Marriage and NOM want to show you. You’ll see single parents, couples who married far past child-rearing age, couples who had no intention of ever having children, and yup, some same-sex couples who do have children. There is no doubt that child-rearing is critical to our nation, but we should be considering all children, not just the ones Protect Marriage wants you to see. I’ll let the defense expert David Blankenhorn take it from here:

Gay marriage would extend a wide range of the natural and practical benefits of marriage to many lesbian and gay couples and their children. … By increasing the number of married couples who might be interested in adoption and foster care, same-sex marriage might well lead to fewer children growing up in state institutions and more growing up in loving adoptive and foster families.

Blankenhorn acknowledges that the Prop 8 harms same-sex couples, but argues the damage to the “institution of marriage” would be far worse if gays and lesbians were to marry. Yet throughout this trial, they have presented no evidence that shows that gay marriage harms straight marriage. No expert who could point to any studies that clearly state the case for that supposition. Quite to the contrary, Blankenhorn looked lost on on cross-examination when David Boies questioned him about the subject.

Pugno, throughout this trial, has repeatedly referred back to the rational basis test, and it is true that is known as a rather weak test. But the fact remains that the Prop 8 team must, at the very least, show that there was a legitimate governmental interest. Religion, idealism, traditionalism, these are not legitimate governmental interests in and of themselves.

Look, I can deal with some people hating me. It’s their right. But as the legendary jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes said nearly a century ago, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

117 Comments January 28, 2010

Polishing Feces: Pugno does his best spin doctoring

by Brian Leubitz

I’ve been watching Pugno’s blog at so you don’t have to wade through the sleaze. But his post yesterday was quite striking for the sheer ability to ignore what happened in the courtroom. Here is the sum total of his comment on Prof. Kenneth Miller:

To show that homosexuals are not politically powerless, Dr. Miller provided “striking” examples of the many ways in which they have won support for their political agenda in California, claiming allies such as federal officeholders (both US Senators and President Obama) , local and statewide elected officials (more than 30 local officials, mayors of the top three cities, and every single Constitutional officer); organized labor (more than 54 such groups opposed Prop 8); major newspapers (21 of 23 opposed Prop 8 while the other two took no editorial position); major corporations (including a consortium of Silicon Valley businesses), and the fact that the “No on 8” campaign actually raised more money than the “Yes” side.

Far from being “politically powerless,” the evidence has firmly established that the political influence of gays and lesbians in California has become quite powerful.

Wow, this Miller character must have really wowed the judge with his encyclopedic knowledge of LGBT history. And his excellent grasp of the current struggles facing gays and lesbians must have really hit the point home. Except, oh, right, Miller didn’t know how many states had legal protections for the community, didn’t know much of anything about LGBT history, and had problems answering some of the simplest questions that were thrown his way.

But Pugno is working his magic for the right here. While acknowledging the greater sentiment that AFER is “winning” the trial, he proceeds to mock them on wanting to admit documents into evidence. It’s like some first grade game of nanny-nanny-boo-boo. What, you need evidence to prove your case? If you were really discrimated against, you wouldn’t need any evidence.

But this is Pugno’s role in the trial. While he has made a few appearances in court, his main gig in this is to play ringmaster. He gets to work it for the press, increase his name ID for his run for Assembly in the Sacramento area, and get some right-wing love. But, sometimes, even the best showman is left to polish a big hunk of dung. And frankly, there’s not much that even P.T. Barnum could do with that.

188 Comments January 26, 2010

Explosive evidence exposes Prop 8 campaign

by Robert Cruickshank

During the fall of 2008 – and again in 2009 in Maine – the forces behind Proposition 8 ran a very slick and clever campaign that emphasized “protecting marriage” and “protecting children.” They deliberately left it unclear just what was being protected against, assuming that voters would know to fill in the blanks. Prop 8 backers did a good job of keeping a tight lid on their own true beliefs, making their own position seem less discriminatory and less radical than it actually is.

That all changed this morning in the trial courtroom, as explosive Yes on 8 campaign videos and documents were introduced into evidence. One of the videos was of a campaign rally from 2008 paid for and simulcast by that shows what they really believe. As reported to us by Yusef Robb of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and shown at the trial today, the video included the following stunning quotes:

“Then pedophiles would have to be allowed to marry 6-7-8 year olds. The man from Massachusetts who petitioned to marry his horse after marriage was instituted in Massachusetts. He’d have to be allowed to do so. Mothers and sons, sisters and brothers, any, any combination would have to be allowed.”

Of course, no such marriages were allowed in Massachusetts, or any other state where same-sex marriage is legal.

“Second of all, the polygamists are waiting in the wings because if a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman based on the fact that you have the right to marry whoever you want to marry, then the polygamists are going to use that exact same argument and they’re probably going to win.”

Opponents of marriage equality love to raise this example, even though it is not what is at issue here. It’s an example of what is often called “moving the goalposts” – shifting the ground from a discussion they might lose (“should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?”) to one they feel they might win, even though it isn’t actually what is at issue. No serious and credible organization supporting same-sex marriage has expressed support for polygamy. This is farcical at best.

“We are seeing the people of Massachusetts being desensitized day by day concerning homosexuality and becoming more and more adjusted to the idea of homosexual marriage being the law of the land and the homosexual agenda becoming more and more of a powerful element in the life of our society.”

Here we see very clearly that to Prop 8 backers, this isn’t about marriage at all. It’s about whether homosexuality is accepted by the public and by the law. They believe that legal recognition of same-sex marriage would make it harder to discriminate against LGBT Americans. This quote is indicative of what Prop 8 was really all about.

“I think a helpful way to think about this is to compare it to 9/11 because a lot of us are asking: How does this directly affect us? Well I wasn’t directly affected by 9/11 and my guess is most of you weren’t either in the sense I didn’t know somebody who crashed the plane in the building. I didn’t know somebody who was in the building. But after 9/11 the world was a fundamentally different place and that has affected me. The change in the redefinition of marriage is the same type of thing.”

Can you imagine the public reaction if Californians had known in the fall of 2008 that Prop 8 backers compared marriage equality to the murder of over 3,000 innocent people on that September morning in 2001? Such an outrageous and offensive statement would have caused major damage to the Yes on 8 forces and showed how callous and radical they truly are. When Democrats mistakenly used footage that included the old World Trade Center towers in an ad for Martha Coakley just days before the Massachusetts Senate election, it was seen as a major gaffe that helped ensure Coakley lost the race. Who knows what would have happened had the public known this was being said at a rally paid for and simulcast by the Prop 8 backers?

Rick Jacobs took a moment from his trial liveblogging to offer these comments on the video and quotes:

“This morning’s evidence made the Prop 8 side’s strategy crystal clear — use fear and lies to promote hate. It is horrifying that Prop 8 proponents would compare marriage equality to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and imply that marriage equality will open the door to pedophilia, incest and bestiality.”

“Ron Prentice, Andrew Pugno and their Prop 8 team — with the highly capable and apparently deeply cynical leadership of Frank Schubert — created a permanent campaign to scare voters into believing that same-sex marriage would threaten children, undermine America and lead to every form of illicit behavior imaginable.”

“This evidence is not just a smoking gun. It was an arsenal of incendiary devices directed at the LGBT community and voters. This is how the Prop 8 side won — through fear and lies.”

“Finally, this morning we saw indisputable, documented evidence in the form of emails and videos that Ron Prentice and Protect Marriage coordinated closely and relied upon the Catholic Church, the LDS Church, the Family Research Council, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and the National Organization for Marriage to get Prop. 8 on the ballot and to win through a campaign of lies.”

“Last week, the Supreme Court erased decades of precedent by ruling that corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to speech. Let’s hope that the court will as readily see that LGBT people have at least the same rights as corporations and surely the same rights as other people.”

Looking at these quotes, it’s no wonder why Protect Marriage fought so hard to keep this trial as hidden away from the public as possible. The truth is revealing. The truth is explosive. The truth shows that far from “protecting” families and children, the primary goal of Prop 8 backers was to impose their radical views of society on us, and discriminate against LGBT people in California and across the nation.

73 Comments January 25, 2010

Liveblogging Day 7: Daily Summary

By Julia Rosen

It’s that time of the day, where we compile the massive liveblogging into one thread for those who have broken F5 keys, or kids that demand their attention, or professors, or bosses and couldn’t stay obsessively refreshing all day long.

Today, Rick Jacobs and Brian Leubitz took turns again posting. Tomorrow, Rick will be there throughout the day. We are getting close to the end of the plaintiff’s witnesses. They might be able to wrap up tomorrow, but it could bleed into Friday. (more…)

17 Comments January 20, 2010

Previous page