SB Indy finally covers FBI probe; Capps spokesman Chris Meagher calls it a “fact finding inquiry.”

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By Peter Lance June 11th, 2014. After refusing for weeks to cover the findings in my 5-part series on the Lois Capps scandal and only after the story was first reported by The News-Press and FoxNews.com, Nick Welsh, the Independent’s editor, today filed a 312 word piece online under the headline “Department of Justice Investigating Capps Rep.”  The story quoted former Independent reporter Chris Meagher who is Mrs. Capps press spokesman, as urging the public to “move past the false allegations asserted in tabloid media coverage.” As noted in the Memo below sent to The Independent June 6th, urging its editors & reporters to cover the story “fairly and honestly,” Meagher and Mrs. Capps have yet to offer any details to support their allegation that my series, which ran to 20,500 words, was “full of inaccuracies.”

Further, in today’s online piece Welsh writes that “What prompted the Department of Justice investigation remains open to some speculation,” suggesting that he never got the Memo. Why? Because in it I detail how the new probe by the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department began after Matt Dies, father of Mallory Rae Dies (victim of the December 6th DUI hit-and-run) pressured Santa Barbara D.A. Joyce Dudley into sending my series to L.A. U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr., who, in turn, sent it on to Main Justice.Tonight KSBY-TV led it’s 6:00 p.m. newscast with the story and got a confirmation of the investigation from Mrs. Capps office. But predictably Chris Meagher  downplayed it, calling the FBI-DOJ probe a “fact finding inquiry.” A shot of Mollie Culver from the printed edition of The Independent is above.

 

By Peter Lance © June 6th, 2014. Even after his sentencing May 28th during which Raymond Victor Morua III took responsibility for the DUI hit-and-run in which he killed Mallory Rae Dies following a holiday party sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent, the newsweekly has steadfastly refused to cover the findings revealed in my 5-part investigative series. At the same time, the Indy’s editors endorsed Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) for re-election. On June 3rd, she led the list of nominees for the 24th congressional district.

Since. April 3rd, I’ve made repeated attempts to get answers from  Mrs. Capps and her press secretary Chris Meagher on a number of questions related to my series “Death on The American Riviera” published in The Santa Barbara News-Press April 13-17th 2014. The series documents how, at the time of the accident outside EOS Lounge just after midnight on December 6th, Mr. Morua, a decorated Iraq War veteran, was working for the congresswoman as one of her District Representatives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As recently as this week I sent my third set of questions to Mr. Meagher and Mrs. Capps, both of whom ignored them.

What connects The Independent to the case is that prior to getting into his 2007 Dodge Caliber with a BAC of .17 — more than twice the legal limit — Mr. Morua consumed six vodkas at The Holiday Bash, an annual party given by the newsweekly at The Savoy nightclub on lower State Street in Santa Barbara. Further, Mr. Meagher, a former crime reporter for the Indy, met Mr. Morua just before the party started and, according to Mrs. Capps District Director Mollie Culver, he was present at the invitation-only event.

Immediately after Ms. Dies was taken off life support on December 11th, Mrs. Capps’ office adopted the position that Mr. Morua was not in the course and furtherance of his duties for the congresswoman that night, and was at the party “on his own volition.” Further, they released a false statement that Mr. Morua had been fired on Sunday December 8th, when I had proof (via U.S. House of Representatives pay records) that the veterans affairs specialist was paid at least through mid-day December 10th. Mr. Morua pled guilty on April 15th, taking full responsibility for the manslaughter hit-and-run. His on-the-job status is now key to any hope that the Dies family has of recovering damages from the U.S. government for the loss of their daughter and medical bills which reportedly amount to several hundred thousand dollars.

Apart from documenting Mr. Morua’s work for Mrs. Capps on the night of December 5th, I presented probative evidence in my series that Ms. Culver and other staff members in Rep. Capps Washington office participated in a scheme to get him out of jail and into a federally funded treatment facility in the days following the accident — further proof that they embraced him as a House employee who was working for the congresswoman during The Holiday Bash.

In fact, as I reported, Ms. Culver went so far as to reportedly forge Mr. Morua’s name on two separate VA forms; one for the release of his medical records and the other to get approval by the VA for his admission into New Directions, an L.A. facility that treats veterans for alcoholism and other post-war problems.

 

That exercise in damage control was hardly one they would have engaged in if Mr. Morua had been, in legal terms, “on a frolic of his own.”

So I sought to press Mrs. Capps on the details of Mr. Morua’s relationship with her office. On April 3rd, ten days before Part One of my series ran, I contacted Mrs. Capps directly through her website. That same night I sent Mr. Meagher a detailed email asking that Mrs. Capps respond to a series of questions I was prepared to send him.

I never heard back from either of them or Ms. Culver to whom I’d submitted a list of questions on March 20th. So I sent Mr. Meagher a second more detailed email on April 8th. When he didn’t respond to that query I confronted him and Mrs. Capps directly on April 26th during an appearance in Goleta, California.

At that time, as a news crew from KEYT documented the event, Mrs. Capps refused to answer any of my direct questions, stating repeatedly “no comment” and “my heart goes out to the family” of Mallory Rae Dies. Mr. Meagher also also ignored my questions. But in two separate comments, one published in The Independent April 15th and another in an interview with FoxNews.com on April 24th Mrs. Capps and Mr. Meagher made the identical accusation with respect to my News-Press series:

 

 

THE INDEPENDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY

At this point The Independent has abandoned its journalistic responsibility on multiple fronts: first in refusing to cover my findings and second in failing to demand the truth from Mrs. Capps and Mr. Meagher, its former employee.

In fact, the only response I’ve received from The Indy following my series was an “unauthorized use” email sent by their chief photographer Paul Wellman citing my inadvertent use of three photographs from the weekly’s archives in the online publication of the series on my website.  After removing the photos –all three of which depicted Judge George C. Eskin,  another prominent player in this story — I sent a detailed email to  Marianne Partridge, The Independent’s editor-in-chief and her surrogate, Nick Welsh citing the “uncorrected libel” in their publication of the “full of inaccuracies” allegation and urging them to cover the story “fairly.” 

That was the promise I received from Independent news editor Tyler Hayden when I met him April 15th following Mr. Morua’s guilty plea at the Figueroa Division of S.B. Superior Court. At that time I urged Mr. Hayden to “advance” my findings and he said he would.

He also confirmed for me a story that I’d heard about Ms. Partridge who had reportedly confronted Mrs. Capps in December and admonished her to “take responsibility” for Mr. Morua’s actions on that fatal night. “It was at the annual briefing that Capps office gives us,” said Mr. Hayden. “Mollie Culver seemed to be running the meeting but Marianne told Lois directly that she felt it was wrong for her to be dodging responsibility.”

I haven’t heard back from Nick Welsh or Marianne Partridge and Tyler Hayden has yet to expand his coverage of the Capps scandal beyond reporting on a series of court hearings at which Mr. Morua appeared. So I’m appealing to them now in this “memo.”

What’s the likelihood they will take up the challenge and drill down on the Lois Capps scandal? “Very unlikely,” says Darryl Genis, Mr. Morua’s lawyer, who noted in my series that, “the loyalties surrounding this tragedy are extremely incestuous, particularly when you consider that my client, Raymond Morua, was with Lois Capps’ press secretary, Chris Meagher, at the party.” In order to fully appreciate the conflicted role that Mr. Meagher has in this scandal, one needs to examine his longstanding relationship with Lois Capps.

THE REPORTER & THE MEMBER OF CONGRESS

Back in the fall of 2012 when she was seeking re-election in the 24th congressional district and Chris Meagher was both a student at Santa Barbara College of Law and a reporter covering politics for The  Independent, he moderated a debate between Mrs. Capps and Republican challenger Abel Maldonado at UCSB. The bio piece below with a picture of Mr. Meagher taken by Mr. Wellman, was published ahead of that debate. I’m publishing it here along with other limited screen captures of Independent content under the doctrine of fair use.

The bio piece describes Mr. Meagher as “a political junkie.” But one wonders how he was able to maintain his objectivity, covering both sides of the political aisle only to exit the fourth estate eight months later to go to work for the winning candidate. Further, how could he socialize with Mr. Morua on the night of the Holiday Bash and later support Mrs. Capps untenable position that Mr. Morua was at the party on his own?

As I detailed in Part Two and Part Four of my series Mr. Morua was “on the job” for Mrs. Capps throughout December 5th, 2013, from early morning up through lunch time when he attended another Independent event, The Local Heroes Luncheon. There he texted a selfie of himself with Councilwoman Cathy Murillo in which he wore a sticker identifying himself as Mrs. Capps representative. 

 

Several hours later, after dropping some files off at Mrs. Capps house, Mr. Morua drove to Eureka restaurant in the Paseo Nuevo where he downed two bourbons during dinner with a fellow veteran.

He then drove to the Ortega Street garage and at 7:03 p.m. texted his fiancé Teresa Montoya that he was “with Chris” Meagher about to meet his “plus one” for the night: Professor Susan Derwin of UCSB. Prof. Derwin ran a writing program for veterans; additional proof that Mr. Morua was furthering Mrs. Capps’ interests at the event as her “go to” representative on veterans affairs.

Around that time Mr. Morua sent a series texts to James Joyce, an aide to State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara). Ms. Jackson, the wife of Judge George Eskin, is a close political ally of Mrs. Capps and just that morning Mr. Morua had exchanged emails with the judge relating to a local veterans issue.

Then, as the video from The Savoy’s exterior camera shows, at 7:09 p.m. wearing the same grey sweater he’d worn at The Local Heroes luncheon, Mr. Morua met Prof. Derwin outside the club and entered with her using the invitation to which he’d RSVP’d days earlier. For the next four hours Mr. Morua interacted on Mrs. Capps’ behalf with a host of Santa Barbarans from the government, the media and the foundation world.

One of the inside video cameras shows Mr. Morua talking with Mr. Joyce around 9:22 p.m. The possible role of his boss, Sen. Jackson, in this story is one of the questions I sought to answer when I contacted her on April 3rd. But her husband’s links to Mr. Morua in the hours before and after the fatal accident are more clear.

 

Not only did Judge Eskin email Mr. Morua the morning before the Local Heroes Luncheon, but eleven and a half hours after the collision he sent a more urgent message to the accused hit-and-run driver: “Sam Eaton ASAP.” The judge’s message was limited to the email’s subject line, but it included the phone number of Samuel K. Eaton, an old friend of the judge who is a prominent local criminal lawyer.

Further, according to Ms. Montoya and Rose Saucedo, Mr. Morua’s mother, Judge Eskin, interacted with Ms. Culver throughout the weekend following Mr. Morua’s arrest in an effort to help him. Mr. Eaton soon agreed to represent the accused, only to drop out days later, following the death of Mallory Rae Dies.

Like his wife, Sen. Jackson, Judge Eskin enjoys a friendly relationship with The Independent. In the last year he’s been the subject of several upbeat pieces by Indy editor Nick Welsh including an adulatory article accompanied by a Q&A under the headline “Judge Eskin’s Last Hurrah.”  The picture used to illustrate that story was one that Mr. Wellman had objected to in his email to me. See the fair use reproduction above. In that shot, the judge is pictured on the dais in front of his wife (holding a flag). Next to Sen. Jackson is District Attorney Joyce Dudley who also features prominently in this story.

Judge Eskin’s interaction with Mr. Morua before and after the accident is relevant to any independent investigation of a cover-up surrounding Mrs. Capps, because part of Ms. Culver’s scheme was to get Mr. Morua into New Directions, the treatment facility for veterans in L.A. which was one of the principal “go-to” venues for the Veterans Treatment Court which Judge Eskin presided over until his initial retirement last fall.

When I interviewed Cindy Young, a V.P. at New Directions and asked her if she had any knowledge of the scheme, she said, “There are many steps that would need to occur before a veteran could be court-ordered to New Directions. For starters, a court process involving a judge, public defender and district attorney would have to occur that would lead to a decision to make an alternative sentencing order for a particular veteran.”

I haven’t found any direct evidence at this point that Judge Eskin was involved in the “get-out-of-jail” scheme, but any investigator seeking to corroborate or expand on my findings would certainly want to question him, particularly since he took the oath to return to the bench on December 2nd, four days before recommending Mr. Eaton to Raymond Morua.

As of the date my series was published in mid-April Judge Eskin was still hearing cases on the Superior Court. He declined my requests for comment as did his wife.

PETITION CALLS ON D.A. TO ASK FOR FEDERAL PROSECUTOR

Meanwhile, on Thursday, May 1st, under pressure from Matt Dies, whose non-profit Vow4Mal.org had collected more than 1,000 signatures asking Mrs. Capps to come clean and for the D.A. to call for an outside Special Prosecutor, Mrs. Dudley reportedly sent some information on the case to André Birotte, the U.S. Attorney for The Central District of California. 

According to an email Mrs Dudley sent to Mr. Dies, the information included, “Mr. Lance’s 5 articles on this case, today’s News Press article, a few of our most recent emails that clarify what you are seeking, and the copy of the Complaint written by Stoll et al that you emailed… on April 28, 2014.”

But on May 7th when Mr. Dies asked Ms. Dudley by email to forward him a copy of the referral letter that she’d sent to Mr. Birotte, she replied, “I did not sent a cover letter. I spoke to him on the phone and… forwarded him the info I told/wrote you about.”

Later that day Mr. Dies pressed her, writing that, “I really think that at this critical point we need to go back to the petition’s specific request (see attached) and you should formally request a Special Prosecutor to investigate the cover up that has and continues to be perpetrated. To me this should not go to the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles but to The Public Integrity Section at the Department of Justice.” He even provided Mrs. Dudley with the website: 

How did the D.A. respond? With this rather astonishing reply:

“I am unclear what you are specifically asking me to do now. What formal referral are you requesting I file/fill out? I have gone to the website you have asked me to. Can you direct me to the specific area? If so I will carefully review it.”

In short, the chief law enforcement officer in Santa Barbara County appeared clueless about how to respond to the specific request of 1,000+ citizens who’d signed the petition which asked that “SANTA BARBARA D.A. JOYCE DUDLEY… CALL FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR BY THE U.S. DEPT. OF JUSTICE TO INVESTIGATE.”

One doesn’t need a law degree to understand the difference between a formal referral to the Public Integrity Section at Justice and a phone call to the nearest federal prosecutor — particularly in light of what we now know about Andre Birotte’s status:

NOMINATED TO BE A FEDERAL JUDGE

On April 3rd, 2014 President Obama nominated Mr. Birotte to a federal judgeship in Los Angeles. Since he will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, it’s unlikely, politically, that André Birotte will be opening any new investigations into Members of Congress like Lois Capps. Mrs. Dudley had to know of that appointment at the time she spoke by phone with Mr. Birotte and if she didn’t, then one would think that he’d have told her.

So Mr. Birotte’s pending nomination raises the question of just how serious Joyce Dudley is when it comes to probing the evidence uncovered in my series re:  the commission of federal crimes by Mollie Culver in her reported forgery of those VA forms — not to mention the possible obstruction of justice and evidence tampering by House Counsel Mary Beth Walker (who is representing Mrs. Capps and Ms. Culver).

It was Ms. Walker who wrote to Mrs. Dudley on January 2nd asking her to “sequester” what she termed “sensitive official information” from Mr. Morua’s office iPhone 4 seized by the SBPD after the accident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I asked the D.A. about that request she gave me this reply: “To answer your question, and to my knowledge, the DAs office has not done anything with the cellphone records. I can’t speak to what the SBPD may have done or will do.” 

 Since any tampering with the content of that office iPhone 4 and Mr. Morua’s second personal iPhone 3s (also seized by the SBPD) could constitute a crime or crimes and since Joyce Dudley couldn’t even be sure in her reply to me that the police department had maintained the integrity of the evidence or would in the future, she is clearly not in a position to investigate this scandal objectively.
Further, when Mr. Dies pressed her on doing her own investigation of forgery which is a state crime, Mrs. Dudley referred him to the SBPD. 
So why not honor the will of the 1000+ people who signed the petition and make a FORMAL REFERRAL on the letterhead of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office to the U.S. DOJ?  What’s the downside for Joyce Dudley of doing that, unless she too, has something to hide or she feels conflicted about an effective independent investigation of her long time political ally Lois Capps?
On Friday May 16th, Mrs. Dudley sent an email to Matt Dies in which she claimed that the U.S. Attorney had told her he’d referred “the Matter” to the Public Integrity Section at Main Justice in Washington.
“I just got off the phone with Andre Birotte,” Mrs. Dudley wrote. “Mr. Birotte informed me that the Matter has now been referred to the Public Integrity Division for their analysis.”

As noted on the DOJ’s website:“The Public Integrity Section (PIN) oversees the federal effort to combat corruption through the prosecution of elected and appointed public officials at all levels of government.”

Just this past week The FBI began an investigation into my findings. The full report can be accessed here.

In any case, until now I’d hoped that The Santa Barbara Independent and a veteran political reporter/editor like Nick Welsh would be investigating. But as evidenced by the Indy’s complicated involvement in all of this, and their endorsement of Mrs. Capps for a 9th terms, it’s clear that they have no intention of getting at the truth behind this series of cover-ups.


MULTIPLE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

At this point the close relationship between The Independent, Chris Meagher, Judge Eskin, and Lois Capps raises the larger question of whether they will ever make good on Tyler Hayden’s pledge to cover my findings “fairly.” And based on The Indy’s past coverage, that question is uncertain.

On October 2nd, 2012, two days before Chris Meagher “penned his cover story” on Mrs. Capps and Mr. Maldonado, The Independent ran an opinion piece by Mollie Culver, critical of the GOP challenger under the headline “It’s His Party.“ When Hannah-Beth Jackson announced her candidacy for the state senate in October, 2o11, Chris Meagher reported the story.  When her husband, the judge, announced his retirement Nick Welsh filed the piece. 

THE “VILLAGE VOICE” OF SANTA BARBARA

Prior to moving to Santa Barbara, Ms. Partridge worked as editor of the legendary Village Voice in New York, a liberal weekly with a striking resemblance to The Independent. The difference is that The Voice aggressively covers candidates from both parties and in this instance The Indy has been treating the Capps scandal with kid gloves. 

So in my reply to Mr. Wellman’s email warning me to remove Judge Eskin’s photos I urged Ms Partridge and Mr. Welsh to “honestly cover my findings.”

“You should not as journalists allow a public servant like Mrs. Capps to hide behind ‘no comment,’” I wrote, “particularly when, in my series I’ve demonstrated probative evidence that not only was Mr. Morua working for her at the Indy Bash… but that Mrs. Capps office, per her District Director Mollie Culver, engaged in an illegal scheme to get Mr. Morua out of jail and into a VA funded treatment facility in the days between the accident on December 6th and December 11th just prior to Ms. Dies being taken off life support.

“Whether or not The Independent may be be held liable for Mr. Morua’s actions at the Holiday Bash… multiple party-goers saw Mr. Morua not only acting on behalf of Mrs. Capps but repeatedly throwing down drinks. Tell Nick that if he hasn’t studied the video from The Savoy which had six cameras covering the event, he should. Then perhaps he’ll consider the ethical responsibility of people like Chris Meagher and current staffers from The Indy who knew Mr. Morua and knew of his history of alcoholism. Did anybody think to pull him aside and say, ‘Raymond, you’ve had a lot to drink. Let us call you a cab?’

“One fact is undeniable: just as Mallory Rae Dies would still be alive if Raymond Victor Morua had not gotten into his Dodge Caliber on the night of 12.5.13… she’d also be alive if The Santa Barbara Independent had chosen to have its annual holiday soiree on a different night – or if any of the attendees who observed Mr. Morua drinking so heavily, had found him alternate means of transportation. I’m not saying The Independent has blood on its hands. But I am saying that Tyler Hayden should use his skill to get to the bottom of this scandal instead of acting as just another minion in the Lois Capps cover-up.”

LOIS CAPPS’ TRUTH IN ADVERTISING BILL

On March 27th, in what must now be viewed as an exercise in irony, Mrs. Capps co-sponsored HR 4341, a bill to regulate the use of Photoshop airbrushing in advertising. The measure would require the Federal Trade Commission to issue a report to Congress setting forth “a strategy to reduce the use, in advertising and other media of images that have been altered to change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted.” The Truth In Advertising Act which Mrs. Capps co-sponsored with GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lethinen (R-FL) was largely ignored by the mainstream media, but reported on by several websites devoted to photography like SLR Lounge and petapixel.com which ran this piece by DL Cade on April 19th.

“Irony of ironies,” says Matt Dies, father of the victim, “Apparently she doesn’t think truth applies to politicians. In the first 36 hours we had close to 700 signatures on a petition to force Congresswoman Capps to come clean about the evidence exposed in the News-Press series. If she won’t, we need a federal prosecutor to intervene.”

MAKING THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE

Speaking at a 2009 panel of newspaper experts who discussed the future of print journalism, Indy editor Nick Welsh was pictured and quoted in the newsweekly’s story on the  event. According to the piece by Matt Kettmann, Mr. Welsh described the future as “extremely exciting and extremely scary…  He reminded the crowd that it was never perfect in the ‘good old days,’ and that reporters have always failed to make the government and other powers-that-be fully accountable.”

I’m using a screen capture from that story to illustrate this piece, trusting that, like the screen captures above, it won’t provoke another “unauthorized use” email from Mr. Wellman. But having read what Nick Welsh said about holding government officials “accountable” I wonder if he’ll respond to my call for The Independent to cover Lois Capps with the same aggressive style they cover other politicians?

 

TYLER HAYDEN’S FACEBOOK PAGE

After sending the email above, I did a Google search on Tyler Hayden. It didn’t give me much confidence that he would pick up the story. Of all the articles he might have posted on his Facebook home page there was one that must hold some significance for him. It’s a piece he wrote and The Independent published on November 5th, 2013, precisely one month before the Indy’s Holiday Bash. The headline: Capps Introduces Bill to help War Veterans Without Records. 

 “Last Wednesday,” wrote Hayden, “Capps — who represents more than 50,000 veterans in her 24th District — introduced a bill called the Veterans’ Record Reconstruction Act that would streamline the process by which servicemen and servicewomen prove their eligibility for benefits or decorations.

“While unofficial sources of information like photographs, letters, and eyewitness accounts have been used on a case-by-case basis to help reconstruct veterans’ files destroyed in the fire, explained Capps spokesperson Chris Meagher, there are no actual guidelines to follow. The bill, Meagher said, would require the Department of Defense to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs and come up with rules and criteria for considering these unofficial sources and, in more general terms, make the whole process easier.”

So there it was again — that curious intersect between Mr. Meagher, the former Indy reporter and Mr. Meagher, Mrs. Capps current spokesman.

Like it or not, The Santa Barbara Independent is entwined in this scandal and its many reporters, editors and staff members who attended The Holiday Bash could shed important light on the central question: was Raymond Victor Morua III working for his boss Lois Capps that night?

Was he working the room, interacting with government officials, people from the media and foundation world as he had at dozens of other events since November, 2012 when he’d been appointed Mrs. Capps District Rep. or was he there on his “own volition” as Mary Beth Walker, Mrs. Capps House lawyer has insisted?

The answer to that question could mean everything to the family of Mallory Rae Does. Hopefully Nick Welsh, Marianne Partridge, Tyler Hayden and other Independentistas won’t take a cue from their former colleague Chris Meagher and hide behind a “no comment.”

THE INDY’S LATEST ENDORSEMENT OF MRS. CAPPS

As evidenced by the screen capture below, on May 10th of 2012 The Santa Barbara Independent endorsed Lois Capps for yet another congressional run. It wasn’t surprising. They’d endorsed her each of the eight times she’d run for the seat vacated by her husband in 1996. “We have never  regretted it,” the editors wrote. In that same endorsement the Indy threw its weight behind Hannah-Beth Jackson, calling her the “clear and compelling choice for this (19th District) State Senate seat.”

And once again in the face of Mrs. Capps’ steadfast refusal to answer any of the questions raised in my series, Nick Welsh and Marianne Partridge simply rubber-stamped another endorsement, ignoring the “donkey in the room,” to mix political metaphors. They ignored the fact that Mrs. Capps has abdicated her role as a leader by claiming that her “heart goes out” to the family of the young woman slain by her own District Rep. while hiding behind the fiction that he was freelancing the night he killed her; thus depriving them of any chance to recover for their terrible loss.

At May 28th’s sentencing hearing Mr. Morua called that denial “appalling.” The question now is, what will Mrs. Capps say to the young men and woman in the black and yellow tee-shirts from Vow4Mal.org who pledge to continue showing up at every public event in the ensuing campaign? Will Mrs. Capps and her mouthpiece Chris Meagher continue to attack the accuracy of my series without presenting specifics? If their refusal to address my third email with detailed questions is any indication, the answer is “yes.’

With this updated piece I’ll take yet another stab at urging the reporters and editors of Santa Barbara’s most important weekly to decide who they are and what they stand for. Do they see themselves as journalists or potential witnesses in a civil trial for wrongful death? Will they reclaim the reputation that many readers in Santa Barbara have come to expect of them: that of an irreverent newsweekly covering culture, politics and government without regard to hidden agendas or sacred cows? Rather than attacking me, as they’ve done in the past, or The Santa Barbara News-Press, their ongoing bête noire,  it’s my sincere hope that they will pursue the truth wherever it takes them — even if it leads to the Figueroa Street offices of The Santa Barbara Independent.

MY VOTE WENT TO MATT DIES

As a post-script I’ll note that when I sent in my absentee ballot, after having voted for Lois Capps multiple times, I decided she no longer deserved my support and wrote-in the name of Matt Dies on the ballot. With his campaign to use Vow4Mal.org as an instrument to stop DUI deaths in Santa Barbara, he’s shown himself to be a far more courageous a leader than Lois Capps.

 

 

 

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