Vowing to appeal his misdemeanor convictions and subsequent removal from office, ex-supervisor Ray Nutting gave an impassioned impromptu speech at the Tea Party meeting Tuesday night, garnering loud applause.
Convicted of six misdemeanor charges for taking personal loans from two county employees and a building contractor to bail himself out of jail last year, Nutting was acquitted on three felony counts with the jurors deadlocked on a fourth felony count of submitting false paperwork.
After the meeting, Nutting was interviewed and said the basis of his appeal would be that the jury instructions were incorrect. “I was only acting in my official duties when seated as a board member and voting or appointing someone,” he said. “Not when I was acting as an individual visiting groups. That distinction was never made clear to the jury by the judge.”
He also claims the judge never defined the difference between bail and a loan. “It was bail, not a loan,” he insisted. “I also didn’t knowingly and willingly accept the money as loans. It was bail, it was bail, it was bail. So the jury instructions were wrong and I had those two issues taken away from me at the beginning.”
Nutting said that County Counsel Ed Knapp then “took the political reform act and used it as a trigger for removal under official duties. This is uncharted territory for the State of California … District Attorney Vern Pierson used this a political tool to take a run at my seat. So the judge made a determination on the request by the Board of Supervisors.”
According to the Political Reform Act, violations are punishable by a variety of sanctions, depending on the severity of the violation and the degree of intent to violate the law. A knowing or willful violation of the Political Reform Act’s requirements is a misdemeanor. Such a conviction may also create an immediate loss of office under the theory that the official violated his or her official duties, or create a basis for a grand jury to initiate proceedings for removal on the theory that failure to disclose constitutes willful or corrupt misconduct in office.
Claiming he would appeal, Nutting said the appellate court would have to decide if it wants to make new law. “This affects everyone who fills out a 700 form,” he said. “Tens of thousands of people. That means if someone borrows some money, the DA can now arrest and remove them from their position. If they are required to fill out a 700 form, the DA can go hunting and go after their political enemies. Vern Pierson violated the Political Reform Act himself. Will he deal with his violations and resign from office?”
Nutting went on to say he’d be willing to debate Pierson on the point of law used to prosecute him and was angry at some of the statements Pierson made in discussing the case at a recent taxpayer’s meeting.
“I have 20,000 pages of discovery material that will disprove Pierson’s claim that I was arrogant and uncooperative. I answered every question and we beat those charges,” Nutting claimed.
“So if he wants a debate, bring it on.”