CaliforniaALL, a Section 501(c)(3) charitable entity, came about as a result of a San Francisco restaurant meeting between Ruthe Ashley (a Diversity Officer at CalPERS and Vice President of the State Bar of California) and Peter Arth, Jr., Chief of Staff to CPUC President Michael Peevey. Also present at that meeting was Professor Sarah E. Redfield.
CaliforniaALL’s alleged purpose was to award grants to entities that would increase minority participation in the “pipelines” that feed into various industries, such as finance, technology, and law.
Donations to CaliforniaALL came primarily from utility companies (including AT&T, Sempra Energy, and PG&E). In its brief existence from 2008 to 2010, CaliforniaALL collected close to $2 million, including an unusually large sub rosa contribution of $780,000 from the State Bar of California Foundation in 2008.
Mr. Geoffrey Brown, currently a professor of law at JFK School of Law. Between 2001 to 2007 served as Commissioner with the CPUC. From 2006 to 2009 Brown serve as director with the State Bar of California Foundation (DBA “California Bar Foundation”). In 2008, California Bar Foundation quietly transferred $769,247.00 to CaliforniaALL.
Other than in Foundation tax records and a 2 by 2 inch blurb in its 2008 annual report, the sub rosa contribution was never mentioned again – not by the State Bar of California, not in the Cal Bar Journal, not in the Foundation’s “newsroom,” and not by anyone or any publication of CaliforniaALL.
CaliforniaALL was abruptly dissolved in July 2010.
As we previously mentioned, Leslie Hatamiya — Executive Director of the California Bar Foundation who colluded with Holly Fujie, Ruthe Ashley, Patricia Lee and Judy Johnson in order to maintain secrecy over the unlawful transfer of $780,00.00 from California Bar Foundation to CaliforniaALL — has resigned and a search for a replacement is underway.
Sources with knowledge of the inquiry into CaliforniaALL, speaking on condition of anonymity, maintain the ongoing multi-prong inquiry is continuing and expanding, and that a red flag continue to fly over Joe Dunn, “The Voice of OC”, Thomas Girardi, Holly Fujie, Douglas Winthrop, Ruthe Ashley, Sarah Redfield, and Geoffrey Brown due to convenient circumstances surrounding CaliforniaALL, UCI Foundation, Voice of OC, CPUC, State Bar of California, and the California Bar Foundation.
Ms. Jill Sperber, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz and obtained a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law. As of November 2010, Ms Sperber serves as Special Assistant to the Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar of California. Prior to joining the staff at the State Bar of California in January of 1990, Ms Sperber served for a period of five years as an assistant public defender at the office of San Francisco Public Defender’s Geoffrey F. Brown. Incidentally, Brown, not a stranger to the Leslie Brodie Report, was already mentioned during prior coverage of Sham Charity CaliforniaALL. See http://tinyurl.com/californiaallpart15 . (Photo:courtesy)
In CaliforniaALL Part 18, we published a letter from Ms. Sperber to complainant. CaliforniaALL Part 19 is a reply from complainant to Ms. Sperber, below:
Dear Ms. Sperber:
This will respond to your correspondence of July 28, 2011 advising that you have closed the complaint filed by me in this matter.
Setting aside the fact that you improperly ruled on the complaint rather than forwarding it to outside counsel, and as it clear that your letter is imbued with factual misrepresentations, let me help you with a more plausible defense which I am willing to accept provided respondents concede the factual accuracy of the statements.
Specifically, what you should have written is as follows:
I have reviewed your complaint, and have come to the conclusion that it lacks probable cause sufficient to forward it to an outside counsel for further examination.
While the State Bar of California concedes that it was under a duty to inform both plaintiff Granda as well as Judge Morrison England of its relationship with CaliforniaALL, given the exigency of the circumstances as explained below, no intentional misconduct took place. Nevertheless, I thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Rest assured that the State Bar has taken corrective actions to ensure that such conduct will not be repeated.
Once the Office of the General Counsel was served with the complaint/emergency motion for preliminary injunction filed by Ms. Granda, the State Bar immediately forwarded the papers to the law firm of Kerr & Wagstaffe, which was under a tight deadline to file a response to the emergency writ.
At this point, and even though the names of Yee, Torres-Gil, and Grunberg appear on all the pleadings submitted, outside counsel Michael von Lowendfelt was the attorney in control of the case.
Initially, the matter was assigned to a magistrate judge, and only later was assigned to Hon. Morrison England. Judge England had only a few days to rule on the matter, which he did by dismissing the case in its entirety.
As Mr. von Lowendfelt was unaware of the existence of CaliforniaALL and its enmeshment with the State Bar of California vis-a-vis the role the State Bar played in appointing and re-appointing CaliforniaALL’s members of the board of directors throughout the entire time CaliforniaALL was in existence, he did not speak up. Additionally, given that the matter was only pending before Judge England for a few days, in house attorneys Yee, Gil-Torres, and Grunberg, as well as Ms. Johnson, also did not speak up, albeit unintentionally so.
When a complaint is closed at this level, the complainant may request that the State Bar’s Audit and Review Unit review the determination, which you may do within 90 days of the date of this letter.
Very truly yours,
Please let me know via email within 10 business days whether the above is acceptable.