John Eastman’s quest to let voters know he’s an assistant attorney general (without telling them the title refers to a temporary gig in South Dakota) will head to court next week.
Eastman, a Republican candidate for California attorney general, sued Secretary of State Debra Bowen this week after she rejected his requested “assistant attorney general” ballot title as misleading. Bowen wants Eastman, the former dean of Chapman University School of Law, to use his third choice: “taxpayer advocate / attorney.”
But one of Eastman’s competitors, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, thinks both titles are bogus. Today, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley let Cooley intervene in the lawsuit and set a hearing on the whole brouhaha for next Thursday.
In February, South Dakota’s attorney general named Eastman a temporary assistant AG for the state so the constitutional law expert could petition the U.S. Supreme Court in a single case: Reisch v. Sisney (The case involves two inmates who claim the state prison system violated their rights to religious freedom).
Eastman argues that work on that case constitutes his primary occupation, and so he should be allowed to use the title on the ballot. But critics, primarily Cooley, accuse Eastman of trying to trick voters into thinking he’s a high-ranking California prosecutor who’s already one step away from the top office he’s trying to win.
Bowen did let stand the job title submitted by a third GOP candidate. Voters will see Tom Harman listed as “prosecutor / attorney / senator” even though “prosecutor” refers to his just-started work in an Orange County program that lets civil litigators work temporarily as criminal attorneys.