Saturday, February 5, 2005

Tearful Shelley resigns

By Jim Wasserman, The Associated Press, February 5, 2005

Friday afternoon California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley announced he will resign from office effective March 1. I issued a brief statement in response to the news.

Excerpts from Jim Wasserman's AP story:


Secretary of State Kevin Shelley fought back tears Friday as he announced his resignation amid investigations into mishandling federal election funds, accepting tainted campaign contributions and sexual harassment allegations.

Shelley, 49, said he would leave his $131,250-a-year post March 1, after he is scheduled to testify at a legislative audit committee hearing about how he spent millions of dollars in federal election funds.

"While I have made errors that I deeply regret, I have never, ever done so with the intent of subverting the law or benefiting myself," Shelley said during a news conference outside his San Francisco home with his wife, Dominique, at his side.

Struggling to hold back tears, Shelley said he always tried to do the right thing and that resigning was the hardest decision he ever made.

"It has become clear to me that the tides of this storm are overtaking this office's very ability to function effectively," he said.

Shelley said he was confident he would be cleared of wrongdoing in several ongoing state and federal investigations.

While not being charged with breaking state or federal laws, Shelley found himself embroiled in controversy over mishandling $46 million in Help America Vote Act funds and charges by ex-employees of temper tantrums and a hostile work environment.

Shelley, the son of former San FranciscoMayor and U.S. Rep. Jack Shelley, was once a rising star in the Democratic party. His move paves the way for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, to name a replacement.

Schwarzenegger said he would move quickly to fill the position. His choice could be blocked by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.


Senate Republican and Democrat leaders said they favored former Republican Sen. Ross Johnson of Irvine. Assembly Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield suggested U.S. Rep. Mary Bono, a Republican from Palm Springs.


Shelley apologized Friday to his supporters and staff.

"In too many cases, my intense drive to accomplish good things has been tarnished by my impatience, and I have allowed myself to direct that impatience at individuals when it should have been directed elsewhere," he said. "I have no one to blame for this but myself."

In 2003, Shelley won widespread praise for his smooth handling of an unprecedented gubernatorial recall election featuring 135 candidates that began only months after he assumed office.

Last year, electronic voting activists praised him for tightening security requirements on touch-screen voting to prevent fraud.

"While serious questions remain about his management practices, there is no question that Kevin Shelley provided much-needed leadership to reform California voting systems at a crucial point in the modernization process," said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation.

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