SACRAMENTO — Opponents of the campaign to recall Gov. Gray Davis from office will announce today the formation of a coalition aimed at broadening the fight against the Republican-led effort.
The Stand for California Coalition will include church, labor and business leaders. It will ask President Bush to "order the Republican officials in California who are behind the recall to stop their efforts for the best interest of the public," people involved in the effort said.
Organizers are taking pains to depict the group as a broad-based reaction to the potential harm the recall campaign could inflict on the state's economy and political stability, rather than a partisan defense of the unpopular Davis. But the effort is being led by the California Labor Federation and will include other powerful Democratic Party allies such as the California Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood and the NAACP.
"This is not at the behest of the governor or any political party," said Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation and the coalition's lead organizer. "Whether you like the governor or don't, this is about the stability of the state's leadership and working to get the state out of its economic difficulty."
The decision to expand the public fight against the effort to remove Davis from office comes as the leading financier of the recall faces embarrassing new questions about his past.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) was arrested and prosecuted in 1980 for allegedly faking the theft of his Mercedes-Benz and selling the vehicle. The felony charges against Issa and his older brother, William, were dropped for lack of evidence. Both were later charged with misdemeanors, but the charges weren't pursued, the Chronicle reported.
In a statement, Issa -- who became wealthy selling car alarms -- blamed the theft on his brother.
"William has inflicted pain and sorrow upon our family since he was a teenager," Issa said in the statement released Wednesday. "Obviously, his past continues to inflict pain today. When people ask me why I got into the car alarm business, I tell them the truth. It was because my brother was a car thief."
But anti-recall forces seized on the reports and called for Issa to release his full criminal records. In a Sacramento news conference, Dan Terry, president of the California Professional Firefighters union and a chairman of Taxpayers Against the Recall -- the official Davis anti-recall campaign -- called on recall leaders to void signatures gathered by Issa's camp.
Rick TerBorch, president of the California Police Chiefs Assn., also issued a statement calling on Issa to release his "complete criminal record."
Roger Salazar, a Davis political advisor, was clearly delighted by Issa's latest publicity. "Darrell Issa is finding out that he can't steal an election as easily as he can steal a car," he said.
Recall supporters need 897,158 valid signatures to put the issue to a statewide vote. They had turned in 376,008 signatures as of June 16, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley said earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Peter Camejo -- the failed Green Party candidate for governor last November -- announced he would run for the office again if the recall qualifies for the ballot. The announcement creates potential difficulties for Davis on the far left.
Camejo's spokesman, Tyler Snortum-Phelps said they didn't view the recall as undoing the results of the November election.
"The concept of recalling Davis is a reasonable one, we feel," he said. "A recall is simply the will of the people. It's ridiculous to describe this as an unscrupulous coup."