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CityBeat Article Raises More Ethical Questions About Gary Kreep

November 14, 2012 1:14 p.m.

GUEST

Dave Maass, reporter San Diego CityBeat

Related Story: CityBeat Article Raises More Ethical Questions About Gary Kreep

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: Our top story on Midday Edition, it came as a surprise to hundreds of thousands of San Diego voters last June that a man who believed President Obama was born in Africa had been elected a superior court judge. Now according to a CityBeat article, that's not the only thing surprising about judge Gary Kreep. Dave Maas of San Diego City beat's new article is called Judge Kreep, a master of political hits and campaign shell games prepares to take a seat on the superior court bench. Welcome to the show.

MAAS: Thank you. Always glad to be here.

CAVANAUGH: What made you focus on Gary Kreep? Was it that he's a Birther?

MAAS: Gary Kreep is a bit of a fascinating figure. Of any judge, I've never seen a judge that is as high-profile, as out there in the media, making remarks. And I signed up for his mailing list, and I just started getting hit with these solicitations to send faxes to Congress, to donate money to his organization, and each one was more shocking than the last. So I decided to dig in.

CAVANAUGH: And is he allowed to do that because he is not on the bench yet?

MAAS: No, the code of judicial ethics applies to candidates for judge as well as for judges. And it makes various stipulations about getting involved in party politics. He's towing the line on this. He would say that his work with the United States justice foundation which is his legal nonprofit, that he's working on constitutional issues. He's litigating. He's not involved in campaigning. They would say is up to debate. And I think there are other instances where he has been involved in campaigning.

CAVANAUGH: We invited Gary Kreep on the show today, and he told us he has no comment to make about this article at this time. Joanne Faryon spoke to him after he won the June election about his conservative views. Here's a clip from the interview.

FARYON: In the sample ballot, you didn't tell people that you didn't believe Mr. Obama was a citizen.

KREEP: What's that got to do with being a judge?

FARYON: Doesn't it have a lot to do in terms of your world view? And it also defines a lot of what you've been doing for the last several years.

KREEP: I agree, there's a lot of bigoted people out there, including the San Diego County bar association.

FARYON: Who said you were not qualified.

KREEP: And they did it on the basis that you can't be pro-life and you can't oppose same-sex marriage and be a judge. That's what they told me. That's a religiously bigoted statement, which will be further investigated by me, and I'm going to move forward on that because that is discrimination.

FARYON: You're going to investigate the San Diego bar association?

KREEP: I'm going to take action against the San Diego bar association.

CAVANAUGH: And back to Dave Maas now. Apparently Mr. Kreep has been a controversial conservative problems in San Diego since the early '90s. In your article. You tell us about his time at the San Diego human relations commission.

MAAS: First I just want to say that Joanne's interview with Gary Kreep is one of the best pieces of TV I've ever seen, it was brilliant. About 20 years ago, Gary Kreep was appointed to the human relations commission. It had just been formed in response to a lot of, you know, heated racial issues, a lot of gay rights issues at this time. A look at discrimination issues in San Diego. One member of the City Council, Bruce Henderson, was opposed to the creation of the commission. So he went ahead and appointed Gary creep who he knew had sued against affirmative action, had been involved in a lot of sort of antigay issues, and he appointed him to the commission to warmup dog it, disrupt it. Depends on your perspective. And from the very getgo, there was outcry, news stories about it, there were people showing up at the meetings and yelling. Frankly a lot more outcry than there was when he ran for judge this year. But yeah. You look through the minutes, and he was a dissenting force and people were really upset about him being there. Of

CAVANAUGH: And we're talking about the early '90s here. And your report outlines some interesting aspects of Gary Kreep's time on the commission. He wanted to focus on anti-Christian bias, and he also wanted the commission to investigate satanic crimes. So is that the tenor of his time on the commission?

MAAS: Yeah. Obviously there aren't tapes from this time, and a lot of the records are still buried in vaults. But yeah, satanic crime, that was something he kept pushing for three different meetings to get brought up. A city attorney had to say satanic crimes are not hate crime, and we need to move O. Then he switched to anti-Christian bias. When gay issues came up, he voted against those, when illegal immigrant issues came up, he voted against those. And that was a consistent thing. Something that I found very interesting talking to him about the human relations commission is that he made these allegations against his fellow commissioners and people in the audience saying he received death threat, saying the police department needed to assign people to him, and incredibly he says that people threw used condoms and "pass and blood-soaked cotton balls at him." And everyone I spoke to, a lot of people aren't alive from back in that time, but everyone I spoke to has said that he was lying, that he was insane. People actually found this so outrageous, saying that he's making it up.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Gary Kreep, we're moving from the human relations commission, he's always been involved in a lot of conservative fundraising causes through the years. And he's earned a lot of money at it.

MAAS: Oh, yeah. He pulls at least $200,000 a year off his causes. Of one thing that I found really interesting, in 2001, he gave an interview to a pro-life news letter in which he was bragging about how since he was in college days, he has this technique of setting up all these different political groups, each with a new name for each different issue, and that they're all the same people, and they're just stealthily working around, manipulating things around with different names. That was when he was in his early '20s. Now, 40 years later, he's still doing it. He's got the Republican majority campaign, beat Obama, he's got the western conservative political action conference, he's got the United States justice foundation. I couldn't track them all because some of them are just hidden, and you actually have to do some sort of forensic accounting to find each and every one of these, and how the money is moving through these. The Republican majority campaign receives literally millions of dollars in unanimous contributions each year which gets -- funneled around through these groups including into his judicial campaign and into his pocket, through all of their pockets through campaign service companies they run.

CAVANAUGH: Is there anything illegal about any of this?

MAAS: I'm not a law enforcer or lawyer. I can't really answer that question. I definitely think there are questions that are raised. Where are these anonymous contributions coming from? How much did Gary Kreep know when people were spending money to support him for an independent organization? How much did it he know? And certain things that would require a subpoena or going through his records, more than is available to the public.

CAVANAUGH: Do you have any knowledge of any investigations going on any into of the activities, political activities of Gary Kreep.

MAAS: Goods my own? No, I'm not aware of any at this point.

CAVANAUGH: So I guess -- I read your article, it's filled with fascinating stories. And obviously coming from a progressive magazine, you're not thrilled with this guy and his attitudes about certain things. But I'm just wondering, what sticks to the wall here? Is there anything?

MAAS: Well, first I want to say that I spoke to people from all sorts of demographics from this story. And not a lot of people wanted to talk because there's ethical complications about talking about judges and things like that. One retired judge I spoke to described himself as right-wing as it gets. He said I'm conservative, I always vote Republican, this guy is scary, this guy worries me, this guy makes us look bad. It spanned the gamut. I don't think his views are necessarily mainstream conservative views. People worry about his impartiality. The thing that sticks though is that the judicial code of ethics which judges and judicial candidates are supposed to stick by explicitly states you cannot be a leader in a political organization, you can't hold any position in a political organization, and you are supposed to act in a way that does not imply any impropriety, does not imply any political standing on things that would make people challenge your bias. If you look at things he's done, he's clearly been involved in political organizations and he's made statements that would make a reasonable person think, well, is this person impartial?

CAVANAUGH: All of this information may or may not have swayed voters before the location. But he's been elected.

MAAS: He has been. I would say though that if you look at what happened with Jim Miller who was a conservative sort of tea party-like judge who came up for vote in December, who wasn't nearly as hardline. I mean, Jim Miller, we considered him for an endorsement. He reached out to a lot of people and didn't seem totally extreme. But he lost by almost 20% because of the backlash over Gary Kreep. I think it was 18.5, the numbers are still coming in, but he lost huge. If people had known going to the June primary, it would have made a huge difference. 18% is a landslide. Of

CAVANAUGH: What difference does it make now?

MAAS: Well, there's a lot of questions. I would say that if you are coming into the Court, and you find yourself in front of Gary Kreep, you're going to think twice whether you want your case heard by him. And any lawyer who does not want the judge has a 1-shot preemptory motion they can make to get another judged. So that's one thing. I don't foresee a giant recall effort against him. Of as a countywide race, it requires some significants. But people can file complaints with the judicial standards commission, and the legislature could remove him if they were so inclined. There are some options. Some of it just might be you have to wait six years and run against him.

CAVANAUGH: One person you interview makes a point that resonates through your article. Len Simon is quoted as saying Mr. Kreep seems to be a person who has an agenda, and judges should not have an agenda. What are the concerns about Mr. Creep's agenda as a superior court judge?

MAAS: There are questions about how he'll treat LGBT people who come before him, or even people who don't believe the same things he does. So that would be a concern. Decades ago,s he was part of the fully informed juror movement which was a movement to -- somebody who would stand outside the courthouse handing fliers to jurors that said you don't have to pay attention to the law, you can just vote however you feel. Ignore the law. Those sort of things would bring up concerns. But I would think that in general, when you have somebody who says statements like people threw used cond 078s at me, or Obama's birth certificate is fake, and he's from Kenya. People tend to wonder, a judge who has a grasp on evidence, and has a grasp on the truth, and whether this person actually has a grasp on reality.

CAVANAUGH: Isn't it possible that Gary Kreep could become a judge and do a stellar judge E job?

MAAS: Oh, absolutely. I don't want to overcharacterize his time. He's done some interesting cases that are not unaligned with what our paper stands for. But you never know. You really know F never know. He could be a stellar judge. Do I think people are going to -- I don't know. There's always the realm of possibility, yeah.

CAVANAUGH: What response have you gotten from Gary Kreep, from all of your trying to get information from him, and try to document all the things that you have in this article?

MAAS: So Gary creep did respond to me in e-mails in some things. He didn't answer all of my questions. He kept referring to this as a hit piece, they was a shill for the downtown interest, that I would never take on liberals. Things like that. What I found interesting though is that he had said that he resigned his leadership position with some of these political action committees that he worked with, and I asked him to provide documentation to that. No response. Didn't do it. And here's a guy who spent the last four years demanding that Obama put up his birth certificate. He keeps giving these fake birth certificates, give it to us now. But when he's an elected official, and you want him to provide a document that shows he's in the clear, nothing. And I find that fascinating. Here's somebody who has been a master of sending out political hits and smear campaigns against Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, but he can't seem to handle it himself when somebody asks him tough, serious questions that you would of any elected official.

CAVANAUGH: And the documentation that he's actually resigned from these pacs would be signature because?

MAAS: Because if he actually was a leader in these pacs, the code of judicial ethics specifically says you cannot do that. That would be in violation of the code of ethics.

CAVANAUGH: And if indeed somebody wanted to bring up the allegations that you've made in this article to a branch of the judicial code of ethics or some other advisory group, would they have to be a person who Judge Kreep is going to hear their case? Or could it just be any citizen?

MAAS: I think it could be just any citizen. It would tend to have more credibility if it comes from the Court. I remember with Judge Salcido, I don't believe that was filed by one of her clients. I'm a little hazy on that. But I think in general the public has a right to that sport of thing. I don't think it's limited to -- but I could be wrong. That's something I'll check on just for you.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you for that! And thank you for this very interesting piece.

MAAS: Oh, no problem.