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Allen Fires Lawyer With State GOP Ties

August 24, 1995|ERIC BAILEY and LEN HALL | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

SACRAMENTO — Under siege by fellow Republicans, Assembly Speaker Doris Allen has dumped an Orange County attorney because of his GOP ties and hired a Los Angeles law firm in the hope of undoing the state party's endorsement of a recall effort against her.

Dana Reed, a Newport Beach attorney and former director of the Orange County Transportation Commission, said Wednesday that Allen fired him a day earlier. Reed said he was barred from discussing details of the dismissal, citing ethical constraints against revealing attorney-client matters.

But a spokesman for Allen, dubbed a traitor by the GOP after she snared the Assembly's top post with only Democratic support, said the Speaker decided to change attorneys because Reed's firm has done work for the California Republican Party, which has joined the recall battle.

Allan Hoffenblum, the Speaker's campaign manager, said Allen has hired Larry Goldenhersh, an attorney with the Los Angeles law firm of Irell & Manella, to oversee efforts to fight the state party's endorsement in court. Allen and her supporters have maintained that state GOP officials rushed a decision to join the recall and violated her right to due process outlined in the party's own rules.

Reed's dismissal follows the departure from Allen's staff of Barbara Stone, a political science professor at Cal State Fullerton who lost a bid earlier this year to replace maverick Republican Paul Horcher. Stone had been the director of the Speaker's Southern California office in Newport Beach.

Goldenhersh and Allen have known each other since the attorney represented the Cypress legislator and several environmental groups in a long-running legal battle against opponents of Proposition 132, a 1990 state ballot measure sponsored by Allen to ban the use of gill nets by commercial fishermen. Despite protests that it would put some commercial fishermen out of business, the measure was upheld in court last year.

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Allen's spokesman said the Speaker and Reed parted on amicable terms after discussing the situation.

"Dana is a good guy, but his firm has done business with the Republican Party," Hoffenblum said. "What the Speaker wanted was an attorney with whom she's had a long-term relationship as well as one who had no ties to the Republican Party. . . . Goldenhersh is the kind of guy who will go in with all guns blazing."

Insiders say Allen has been eager to neutralize the Republican Party's support for the recall in part to curb the use of the party's nonprofit postal permit, which allows it to dispatch mass mailings at roughly half the commercial cost. Support by the state party also gives the recall campaign additional legitimacy as it attempts to sway undecided Republican voters.

Meanwhile, the recall effort continues. The county registrar of voters said that more than 16,500 signatures of registered voters had been verified as of Wednesday, the 60th day of the campaign.

Recall forces must gather 25,606 valid signatures by Nov. 30 to qualify for the ballot. Organizers say they have more than 20,000 signatures in hand, putting them ahead of the pace set in the campaign against Horcher.

Stone opened Allen's Newport Beach office in July, but then resigned last week, saying she had to prepare for the start of the new school year. She remains an adamant opponent of the Allen recall, however.

"I still think the recall is a stupid thing and a giant waste of time and money," said Stone, a member of the GOP state central committee for nearly two decades.

Other sources suggested Stone found it difficult to work with some of Allen's closest advisers, particularly Jerry Felando, a former Assemblyman from Torrance.

Times political writer Peter M. Warren contributed to this report.

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