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Attorney general candidate wants to list South Dakota job title on ballot

Republican John Eastman has chosen to list his job as 'assistant attorney general' without specifying where. His opponents cry foul.

March 18, 2010|By Shane Goldmacher

Reporting from Sacramento — Republican attorney general candidate John Eastman has chosen the job description he will show voters on the June ballot: assistant attorney general. What he isn't saying, though, is that he is an assistant attorney general in South Dakota.

Eastman resigned asdean of the Chapman University School of Law in Orange in January. But he opted to use a title given to him for a case he's working on in South Dakota.

His opponents in the GOP primary contest are crying foul.

"Eastman's cynical move makes a mockery of the ballot designation system. He's intentionally trying to mislead and misinform voters about his occupation, his qualifications and his career path," said Kevin Spillane, a strategist for Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who is also in the race.

The profession a candidate lists on the ballot is significant: It is the last piece -- for some voters the only piece -- of information they see before casting a vote.

Jeff Flint, an Eastman advisor, wouldn't comment on whether the designation made for good politics. "I don't think it's necessary and appropriate to speculate on the political implications of it," he said, defending the job title as legal and accurate.

Eastman is being paid $20,000 by the South Dakota attorney general to work on one case, according to documents provided by his campaign. Working on the South Dakota case is Eastman's "primary professional occupation," according to documents he filed with the state.

Sara Rabern, a spokeswoman for the South Dakota attorney general's office, said Eastman has "very limited powers" there.

"It's just on one particular court case" he's working on, Rabern said.

Ultimately, Debra Bowen, California's secretary of state, will decide whether the job title is allowed.

If the title sticks, the Cooley campaign plans to sue, Spillane said.

shane.goldmacher@latimes.com

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