ETHICS QUESTIONS RAISED—AGAIN--OVER CAJON VALLEY TRUSTEE JIM MILLER IN REELECTION CAMPAIGN

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By Miriam Raftery

November 2, 2020 (El Cajon) – Stacie Hoover, a candidate running for Cajon Valley Union School District board against trustee Jim Miller, says she is considering legal action against Miller for posts on Defend East County and other sites that she contends are false, defamatory, and racially insensitive.

The Defend East County (DEC) website was shut down by Facebook this week after months of complaints that include racist, violent and defamatory content, though Facebook has not stated exactly why it deleted the site. Miller, a member of the group, posted, “I appreciate your support as my opponent is a BLM backer who was recruited to run against me by the far left.”

Elsewhere, Miller for Cajon Valley School Board posted, “My opponent and her ANTIFA backers continue to tear down my signs and we continue to replace them up to the end.”

ECM asked Hoover, a retired paralegal raising a grandson in the district, about Miller's posts. She replied,“Nobody recruited me. If he has a problem with me supporting black lives, I feel sorry for him and those families in this district and the world.  I don’t have any ties to Antifa. I do not support violence or intimidation from anyone, including him. Now I know how Jill Barto feels.”

Trustee Barto filed a federal lawsuit against the district and trustees including Miller. Barto alleges her First Amendment and civil rights were violated. The district has a separate suit subsequently filed in state court accusing Barto of illegal actions after she filed her federal suit and became a whistleblower to media on issues of spending, a contract awarded to a board member’s son, other concerns. Both sides have denied wrongdoing.

The CVUSD board recently drew criticism from the NAACP, which accused the district of racial disparity including allegedly ignoring acts of bigotry and disproportionately expelling black students.  “This is a civil rights issue,” stated Renita Penya with the San Diego NACCP on June 23. Hear audio of her testimony.

Hoover further criticized Miller for his involvement with the DEC. “I think it shows a lot about his insensitivity and lack of decency,” said Hoover, who likened DEC to a “mob.”  She added, “I understand he did a video interview with the leader of that PAC about the election and he had his assault weapon out showing people how to use it.”

Although the DEC site has been taken down, the Twitter feed #DECsucks, a critic of DEC, captured a screenshot of Miller in his interview or conversation with DEC founder Justin Haskins, holding a large firearm.

Update: Miller has provided this statement on the DEC interview and details on the weapon shown.  "I was asked to discuss the present Federal Litigation vs. the State of California on the Second Amendment.  In Duncan v. Becerra the court approximately 2 years ago held that California's limit on ammunition held in a magazine to a max of 10 rounds violated the Second Amendment.  That ruling has been upheld on appeal to the 9th US Circuit this year.  Presently there is another case following Duncan that contends that because magazines that can hold over 10 rounds are now legal in California the laws defining an "assault weapon" that also include the 10 round limit are similarly unconstitutional.  That more recent case had evidence and testimony heard before the judge the week before my interview and I was present (a full trial is set for January). So, to demonstrate what the case and law was about I brought in a firearm to demonstrate the functionality of the issues.  That firearm is NOT an "assault rifle" by the way even under current California law.  It was cleared (shown to be unloaded) before the interview started."

In April 2018, Miller drew fire for donning a National Rifle Association (NRA) hat during a school board hearing at which young students and others spoke out to voice concerns over gun violence after mass shootings at schools elsewhere.

When a retired teacher wrote to Trustee Miller about concerns over gun violence, he responded on behalf of San Diego Gun Owners Political Action Committee in a derisive tone, as ECM reported.

Hoover denies stealing any signs and has previously complained in an email to representative at the district that Miller signs allegedly were placed on school property. Hoover added that “my signs are constantly being stolen.”

In another social media post,  Miller claimed, “My opponent was caught lying about her education on the League of Women Voter’s website, `Voter’s Edge.’ 

However, in an October 28 email to Miller, Voters Edge San Diego County Coordinator Julie Ann Sih advised Miller that Sih was inaccurate in an earlier assessment over use of the term “postgraduate studies” regarding an ABA-accredited paralegal course at the University of San Diego taken by Hoover. 

In fact, the  USD website makes clear that applicants for the program “must possess a baccalaureate degree or an associate of arts or science degree from an accredited postsecondary institution” though some exceptions are made for applicants with some college credits and documented business or legal work experience. Sih asked Miller,”Could you please delete any reference you may have posted to my opinion of this incident?”

Hoover told ECM that due to Miller’s posts, “I am considering legal action against him.  Everything that he has put up, I can prove that it is a lie.”

Miller’s history of ethics controversies

This is far from the first time that Miller has been embroiled in ethical controversies.

False endorsements

In 2012, when he ran for Superior Court Judge, Miller had to remove several endorsements off his website that he had inaccurately claimed to have: https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/news/judicial-candidate-forced-to-pull-some-endorsements/

Removed as Judge Pro Tem

Miller was removed by the San Diego Superior Court as a judge pro tem, which he failed to disclose while running for a Superior Court Judge seat. 

Although the court does not disclose its removal for taking the unusual action of removing a Judge Pro Tem, Miller had made controversial posts on his Facebook page that discussed details of cases before him on the bench, likening some defendants and plaintiffs to people appearing on the Jerry Springer show. He also criticizing a CHP and attorneys. 

Legal experts told ECM such actions would violate California’s Judicial Canon of Ethics, as ECM reported. 

Miller was found “lacking qualifications” by the San Diego County Bar Association after his removal from the bench. 

The conservative Lincoln Club also revoked its endorsement of Miller.  A press release form the organization stated that he “misrepresented the facts” when asked about the allegations in private. “Such conduct does not meet the high ethical standards that Lincoln Club members believe are required for judicial officers.”

Prior to Miller’s endorsement, Miller had filled out an extensive questionnaire on judicial qualifications. Lincoln Club the conducted interviews prior to the endorsement before the Primary election. 

“In the initial questionnaire, there was no mention of him having been relieved by Judge Trentacosta,” Stirling told ECM.  After the Club heard about Miller’s removal, Stirling added, “I asked him about it.  He denied vehemently that he had been relieved and claimed disingenuously that he was still `pro temming’ to use his term, because he was still in El Cajon.”

 

Miller, who lost his judicial race, contended that he was a victim of dirty politics.

In his current race for school board, MIller touts hs endorsement by the Cajon Valley district teacher's union.  But not all teacher's support their union's decision. Several have phoned ECM to voice disapproval -- and some have posted signs of their own to make their voices heard. 

On his watch, the district has made some strides. A New York Times article praised CVUSD for being among the first districts in our region to reopen during the pandemic, after taking numerous health and safety precautions. The district reports 42 COVID cases since reopening September 8, according to its website. There are curently 9 active cases at 7 schools:  8 students and 1 employee.

Read bios by both Jim Miller and Stacie Hoover, as well as their responses to East County Magazine's candidate questionnaire, at https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/hoover-challenges-miller-cajon-valley....

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

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Comments

ECM responds to Jim Miller comment above:

Mr.Miller – I have additional emails from the League of Women Voters apologize to Ms.Hoover and stating they erred in asking her to remove her description since the course is described in the curriculum as post-graduate. They said it was too late to change it back but that they were mistaken.  She did not state that she had an undergraduate degree, although I will check with her and if she doesn’t I can add that detail into the story.  There are not archives readily available for the school site 30 years ago, obviously.

I have a screen shot of the social media post in which you claimed My opponent and her ANTIFA backers continue to tear down my signs and we continue to replace them up to the end.”  Those are the exact words I ran in the story.  SEE SCREENSHOT AT RIGHT. I did not state that you said she was a member of Antifa. 

I do not know if Hinton was recruited or not.  Ms. Hoover says she was not.  Absent proof to the contrary, such as written emails or a taped interview, there’s no need to change that.

The story does mention that you are the CVEA endorsed candidate. That was not in question.  The article merely showed that some individual teachers support her.  It’s not just her saying that. I’ve had quite a few who called me to complain about the union endorsement process which some felt was not fair. I didn’t get into all of those details, merely noted that not all teachers agree with their union’s decision. I was not aware of any email they sent, since I was not included in that loop. 

It’s a little late to be delving into who paid for signs, and I didn’t discuss either your or her campaign finance issues. Should she be fined later or a finding of wrongdoing be found by the FPPC we could report on it at that time.

I will add details on your clarification of the DEC interview and gun type into the story.

I have never heard anything about the judicial race matters being “debunked.”  Please provide evidence of that statement.  It was a fact that you were removed as a judge pro tem.  It was a fact that you lost endorsement of the Lincoln Club.  It was a fact that you posted information on your Facebook page that multiple experts indicated would violate judicial ethics rules, though the court did not disclose why you were removed.

Were you ever reinstated?  I am having trouble understanding what you contend was false about the judicial race description; you never contacted our publication to claim any inaccuracies until now.

We stand by the story, though I will add in details of the DEC/gun interview as clarification. 



 

More Biased and False Reporting, unfortunate

Ms. Raftery, As it is election day and unlike my opponent, I have a business to run and clients to represent, I can only respond briefly to your substantially false and flawed "article" that was apparently written yesterday. Ms. Hoover lied about her education on the Leage of Women's Voters website, Voter's Edge. She stated as follows, "University of Dan Diego-Post graduate, Paralegal Studirs (1990)" (her misspellings have been left as written). The truth is she does not have an undergraduate degree. You cannot be in "post graduate studies" unless you have first obtained an undergraduate degree by definition. She has been offered the opportunity to produce such a degree if that information was not accurate and she has not produced one. It is my understanding that LWV had to go into her listing and manually change Ms. Hoover's listed "education". Further, a paralegal program is vocational, not academic. By definition it is therefore not "post graduate" in the first place. Finally, you allude to the current requirements for that program but you fail, not surprisingly, to research what those requirements were 30 years ago in 1990 when Ms. Hoover claims to have attended. It is not today's standards for admission that are applicable it is those of 30 years ago. Cajon Valley operates off of a $200 million dollar budget with 2,000 employees. There is a bit more at stake in the election than Ms. Hoover being caught in a lie about her education. She frankly lacks the education, experience or ability to do the job in the first place. No one has ever stated that Ms. Hoover is a member of ANTIFA. Ms. Hoover and her running mate, Monica Hinton, were in fact "recruited" to run by the Democrat party. I am informed that Ms. Hinton has stated as much. They received notice that myself and Karen Mejia, running in Area 4, were un-opposed Republicans and they answered the Democrat party's call to run against us. She lacks the endorsement of the Cajon Valley Education Association but has placed misleading information on her signs. Because of her efforts to falsify her "support", CVEA sent out a membership wide email addressing the efforts of Ms. Hoover to mislead the public. Strange how your article fails to mention this email or any efforts to contact and interview the CVEA President about this topic. How about Ms. Hoover's signs? Who paid for them? FPPC requires donations to be listed and I am unaware of Ms. Hoover opening a campaign committee. Ms. Hoover, and Ms. Hinton, were found to be distributing campaign materials on district property. The District sent out a letter via email informing all candidates to be mindful of the prohibitions. That letter was initiated because of Ms. Hoover and Ms. Hinton's actions, not mine nor Ms. Mejia's. The interview I did with Defend East County has been taken out of context for political sensationalism by Ms. Hoover and/or you. Not to mention that Congressman Issa and candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar both gave interviews to that group on Facebook. Is a candidate invited to address a group with 22,000 members not supposed to give an interview? Of course not. For that interview, I was asked to discuss the present Federal Litigation vs. the State of California on the Second Amendment. In Duncan v. Becerra the court approximately 2 years ago held that California's limit on ammunition held in a magazine to a max of 10 rounds violated the Second Amendment. That ruling has been upheld on appeal to the 9th US Circuit this year. Presently there is another case following Duncan that contends that because magazines that can hold over 10 rounds are now legal in California the laws defining an "assault weapon" that also include the 10 round limit are similarly unconstitutional. That more recent case had evidence and testimony heard before the judge the week before my interview and I was present (a full trial is set for January). So, to demonstrate what the case and law was about I brought in a firearm to demonstrate the functionality of the issues. That firearm is NOT an "assault rifle" by the way even under current California law. It was cleared (shown to be unloaded) before the interview started. I do not blame people for being uneducated on firearms, but it is patently inappropriate to call something an "assault rifle" when the person making that statement clearly has zero idea of what is an "assault rifle". Your article further perpetuates the false narrative. Ms. Hoover has unfortunately taken the campaign to a personal level. I have not. As for the issues you continue to falsely raise about my judicial campaign a decade ago, they were debunked and your ongoing retread of them is unprofessional. Please let me know when you are willing to waive your NY Times v. Sullivan presumptions. You fail in the most basic concept of neutral reporting by failing to contact me about your hit piece. Your bias is as clear as your lack of professional journalistic ethics. You are requested to retract your article at this time. Very Truly, James P. Miller, Jr., Esq. VP Board of Trustees Cajon Valley Union School District