GOOD Ol' BOYS
Ronald Leroy Olson is a man proud of his humble Iowa background. Like his two close friends and business partners from across the Missouri River in Omaha, Nebraska -- Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger --Olson prefers to not flash his wealth and engage in conspicuous consumption.
Ronald L. Olson (image:courtesy)
Given the opportunity, Olson will boast about his upbringing in Iowa, which he claims instilled in him an honest work ethic. To hear him talk, one would often believe that Olson is a good-ol' country farmer who sweats profusely while tilling the land and fears the limelight lest it fade his suit, rather than the shrewd, well-connected attorney who sits on the board of Berkshire Hathaway, Edison International, Southern California Edison, City National Corporation, The Washington Post Company, Western Asset Trusts, RAND Corporation, the Mayo Clinic, and the Council of Foreign Relations, or the attorney who in his spare time practices law out of Los Angeles-based Munger Tolles Olson on behalf of Berkshire Hathaway, Edison International, Southern California Edison, Western Asset Trust, and many other entities such as The Yucaipa Company, Hollywood studios, and other major banks and utility companies.
A similar tactic is used by Warren Buffett, who portrays himself as the harmless average Joe who drinks 5 cans of Cherry Coke a day and spends his time playing bridge. Gold? That's for Jews to sew into their garments, Charlie Munger declared recently. We are into value investing in productive and honest businesses. Greed ? Speculation? Hollywood? Churning ? Control and influence over banks, monetary policies, the media, utilities, and the government? Not us, no sirree Bob.
WAR STORY TIME
The second-in-command at Berkshire Hathaway -- Charlie Munger -- is not currently actively practicing law, although he holds the position of "of counsel" at Munger Tolles & Olson -- a firm previously described by various media outlets as the best law firm in the country with an army of lawyers ready to wage war, and whose client list includes Berkshire Hathaway, Verizon Communication, and Southern California Edison.
Those warring lawyers often win various awards and designations by major California legal newspapers such as the "Los Angeles Daily Journal" and "San Francisco Daily Journal," coincidentally owned by Charlie Munger, one of the founding fathers of Munger Tolles & Olson.
Other corporate law firms operating in California with large books of business from major utility companies include Northern California-based Morrison & Foerster (PG&E, El Paso), Keker & Van Nest (PG&E), DLA Piper (Sempra Energy, owner of San Diego Electricity ), and now-defunct Howard Rice (PG&E), which is now part of Arnold & Porter.
Beginning in 2000, these law firms were busy defending utility companies in the countless lawsuits and monumental proceedings stemming from California's energy crisis. A unique features of those law firms is a tendency to obscure their corporate practices (i.e. defending tobacco companies, banks, utilities, mortgage companies) from public view. Instead, they would rather publicize their effort to promote diversity, and their alleged contributions to equal rights for all. For example, in the "Prop 8 marriage cases" Keker & Van Nest, Munger Tolles & Olson, Howard Rice, and Morrison & Foerster played pivotal roles. However, and although I may be mistaken, a quick review of Morrison & Foerster's website listings for its California offices does not show even one male, African-American attorney working in California; moreover, Howard Rice has been sued for rescinding an offer of employment to a Latina attorney on the grounds of downsizing, only to continue to hire white men.
Those firms which represented the utility companies during California energy crisis, and the class-action plaintiffs' firms who sued on behalf of consumers (such as Girardi & Keese and Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy) developed a penchant for congregating around the State Bar of California, and more specifically the California Bar Foundation. At times, strange though it may seem, two representatives from the same firms would serve as directors of the California Bar Foundation, as was the case in 2007-2008 when Jeff Bleich and Bradley Phillips of Munger Tolles & Olson served as directors, or currently where there are two directors from Arnold Porter.
A GOLDEN CAPED SUPERMAN
In 2007, Jeffrey Bleich was a ready-to-wage-war attorney working for Ronald Leroy Olson at Munger Tolles & Olson who was dubbed by some media outlets as Superman.
Bleich (if you believe Charlie Munger, while he had gold sewed into his cape) launched and co-chaired the national finance committee of Obama for America. Other attorneys from law firms representing utility companies seeking to place Obama in office because they hoped he would support the Smart-Grid and clean energy initiatives followed suit. Steven Churchwell of DLA Piper in Sacramento , James Brosnahan, Tony West and Chris Young of Morrison & Foerster, Kamala Harris (a protege of Willie Brown - a lackey of PG&E), and Doug Scrivner (who served as chief legal counsel of Accenture- a relatively unknown yet powerful entity) organized to push for the election of Barack Obama on behalf of those seeking to promote green energy.
At that time, Bleich was on a mission to put Obama in office on behalf of utility companies. The cover story was that Bleich and Obama are "good friends" ever since Bleich was asked to recruit Obama as clerk for appellate court Justice Abner Mikva.
Bleich -- while serving as member of the State Bar of California Board of Governors and as director of the California Bar Foundation (alongside another war ready, gold sewing attorney from Munger Tolles, Bradley Phillips) -- was a man on a mission.
While an officer at the State Bar of California, Jeffrey Bleich and James Brosnahan were instrumental in pushing for the urgent creation of a non-profit entity known as CaliforniaALL.
My inquiry into CaliforniaALL began close to one year ago when I stumbled upon unusually large and highly peculiar financial transactions in conjunction with what appeared to me to be clear attempts to conceal and mislead. In order to deflect potential allegations that I am motivated by politics, I wish to assure the readers that my inquiry into these issues was not and is not motivated by politics. In fact, the only actor that I have ever met is James Brosnahan, who I met once for a short period of time while a volunteer with BASF - VLSP, a volunteer organization that awarded me a volunteer of the year award.
In 2010, the United States Federal Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit issued its final ruling in the disciplinary matter of In Re Girardi by imposing close to $500,000 in sanctions on Walter Lack of Engstrom Lispcomb & Lack and Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese stemming from an attempt to defraud the court and cause injury to Dole Food Company in the underlying litigation. You may have heard of Walter Lack and Thomas Girardi as they are the lawyers who were featured in the movie "Erin Brokovich" involving utility company PG&E.
The court ruled that Walter Lack (who stipulated to special prosecutor Rory Little that his prolonged acts of misconduct were intentional) and Thomas Girardi intentionally and recklessly resorted to the use of known falsehoods for years. The Ninth Circuit ordered Girardi and Lack to report their misconduct to the State Bar of California.
The State Bar of California disqualified itself from handling the matter since Howard Miller (of Girardi & Keese) served at that time as its president, and had also made the decision to hire then-chief prosecutor, James Towery.
Mr. Towery, in turn, appointed Jerome Falk of Howard Rice (now Arnold & Porter) as outside "special prosecutor" to determine whether or not to bring charges against Girardi and Lack. (Mr. Falk is a colleague of Douglas Winthrop, and both represented PG&E in its massive bankruptcy proceedings.)
Mr. Falk, in turn, exercised prosecutorial discretion and concluded that he did not believe Lack acted intentionally and that no charges will be brought against the two attorneys.
Within days of Mr. Falk's decision, I filed an ethics complaint with the State Bar of California against Jerome Falk, James Towery, Howard Miller, and Douglas Winthrop (managing partner of Howard Rice and then-elected president of the Foundation), alleging that it was improper for Mr. Towery to appoint Mr. Falk given the close personal relationship between Howard Miller and Douglas Winthrop. Specifically, Howard Miller -- in his capacity as president of the State Bar -- had appointed Douglas Winthrop as president of the California Bar Foundation, a foundation maintained and controlled by the State Bar. (Much later I also discovered that Jerome Falk is actually the personal attorney of Thomas Girardi, and that Howard Rice and Jerome Falk represented Walter Lack, Thomas Girardi, Engstrom Lispcomb & Lack, and Girardi & Keese in approximately 2007, and for a period of 2 years, in a malpractice action.)
As such, while at the time I was not familiar with those individuals, I reviewed the Foundation's annual reports to familiarize myself with the names of the Foundation's board of directors, and to try to resolve various inconsistencies regarding who was serving as the Foundation's president and why Robert Scott Wylie appeared to be the president when data showed that he had relocated to Indiana in 2006. I checked the Foundation's tax returns and it was then that I fortuitously stumbled upon the fact that the Foundation ended 2008 close to $500,000 in the negative. Specifically, the Foundation reported to the IRS that REVENUE LESS EXPENSES in 2007 equaled plus +$373.842.00. However, in 2008, the Foundation reported to the IRS that REVENUE LESS EXPENSES equaled minus -$537,712.
In its 2008 Annual Report (See page 9 : http://www.scribd.com/doc/48712884/3-2008-Annual-Report-of-Foundation-of-the-State-Bar-of-California-Foundation-AKA-California-Bar-Foundation ), the Foundation alludes to CaliforniaALL by stating:
"In 2007-2008, the Foundation supported the launching of CaliforniaALL and, as the project filed for incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, served as CaliforniaALL's fiscal sponsor. A collaboration between the California Public Employment Retirement System, the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Department of Insurance, and the State Bar of California, CaliforniaALL was created in an effort to close the achievement gap among California students from preschool to the profession and, specifically, to bolster the pipeline of young people of diverse backgrounds headed for careers in law, financial services, and technology. Once CaliforniaALL obtained its tax-exempt status and was able to function as a fully independent nonprofit organization, the foundation granted the balance of funds raised for the project – totaling $769,247 – to the new entity."
Also cleverly buried in the California Bar Foundation's 2008 annual report was the following sentence :
"We thank the following corporations for their gifts in support of CaliforniaALL:
AT & T
PG & E Corporation Foundation
While I was able to ascertain from Foundation's tax records an "exit" of the $774,247 in 2008 (the apparent source of which was allegedly the above-referenced 4 utility companies), I was unable to ascertain when and where the Foundation reported to the IRS -- either in 2008 or 2007 or 2006 or 2005 -- an "entry" of those funds which it allegedly held in trust for CaliforniaALL.
(Later, Jill Sperber of the State Bar of California, in a letter she sent to me dated July 28, 2011 claimed that "....No State Bar or California Bar Foundation funds were used for CaliforniaALL creation...The California Bar Foundation served as CaliforniaALL's escrow holder only to hold fundraising funds before its formal incorporation... Once CaliforniaALL was formed as a non-profit entity, the funds were paid over to it..."
Most troubling, however, is the fact that Verizon did not report to the IRS either in 2007 or 2008 that it had contributed any money to the California Bar Foundation or CaliforniaALL. See :
Ultimately, by conducting further research into the actors and events surrounding the Foundation, CaliforniaALL, and related entities, individuals, and events, I unearthed what appears to be a lengthy trail of attempts to mislead and defraud.
CaliforniaALL - Obama for America
In approximately 2007, Ruthe Catolico Ashley -- an attorney from Sacramento and a member of the State Bar of California Board of Governors -- was employed by Cal PERS as a "Diversity Officer." Jeffrey Bleich of Munger Tolles & Olson was serving as President of the State Bar. Both Bleich and Ashley are politically active, and were supporting the 2008 campaign of Barack Obama for President. Ruthe Ashley was involved in the Asian-Americans for Obama branch in Sacramento.
In April 2007, Chief of Staff to CPUC's President Michael Peevey, Peter Arth, Jr. urged Ruthe Catolico Ashley to meet him at a restaurant in San Francisco. During that meeting, the idea to create CaliforniaALL (initially named CaAAL or CaALL) was conceived.
In its brief existence, CaliforniaALL collected close to $2 million from utility companies (AT&T, PG&E, Verizon, Sempra, Southern California Edison), including a sub-rosa "hush -hush"contribution of $769,247.00 from the California Bar Foundation -- --CaliforniaALL appears to have been be a sham, phantom entity.
CaliforniaALL was conveniently housed free of charge at the offices of DLA Piper in Sacramento, alongside the draft committee of OBAMA FOR AMERICA . Steve Churchwell of DLA Piper in Sacramento served as Treasurer of the draft committee of OBAMA FOR AMERICA.
Subsequent to the election of Barack Obama, CaliforniaALL was dissolved.
As matters presently stand, my inquiry leads me to suspect that in 2008 Morrison & Foerster attorneys:
James Brosnahan (self-proclaimed "mastermind behind the Democratic Party.),
Tony West (Barack Obama's Chair of California Finance Committee),
Chris Young ("Obama for America" Northern California Deputy Finance Director)
Annette Carnegie (former director with the California Bar Foundation
In conjunction with:
Kamala Harris (Co-Chair, Obama for America ; member of CaliforniaALL)
Jeffrey Bleich (Munger Tolles & Olson, president of the State Bar of California, director with the California Bar Foundation, founding member and Chair of Barack Obama's National Finance Committee)
Steven Churchwell ( DLA Piper, Treasurer, draft committee of OBAMA FOR AMERICA)
Executed a sophisticated financial scheme to misuse all or part of the "hush-hush" $780,000.00 originating from the California Bar Foundation by improperly transferring the money to Barack Obama's coffers via a separate foundation created ad hoc by Susan Mac Cormac of Morrison & Foerster -- CaliforniaALL.
CaliforniaALL - The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS)
Given the above suspicious circumstantial evidence surrounding CaliforniaALL, due to recent wide media coverage dealing with the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), I begun to also entertain thoughts that the owner of SONGS (Edison International and Sempra Energy) as well as the law firms which represent Edison International and Sempra Energy (Munger Tolles & Olson and DLA Piper, respectively) may have also taken the opportunity to misuse the California Bar Foundation / CaliforniaALL to bribe CPUC officials in matters relating to SONGS.
Specifically, serving alongside Jeffrey Bleich and Bradley Phillips as director of the California Bar Foundation was also CPUC Commissioner Geoffrey Brown, cousin of California Governor Jerry Brown.
As a reminder, while Jeff Bleich, Bradley Phillips and CPUC Commissioner Geoffrey Brown served as director of the California Bar Foundation an unusually large and unexplained sum of money (courtesy of utility companies) was allocated to be transferred to CaliforniaALL -- an entity created through the urging of Peter Arth of the CPUC.
Incidentally, during the same time period, Geoffrey Brown was the assigned commissioner in the application Edison International/ Southern California Edison submitted to the CPUC for authorization: (1) to replace SONGS 2 & 3 steam generators; (2) establish ratemaking for cost recovery; and (3) address other related steam generator replacement issues.
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