Irvine Tattler stretches beyond credibility to slime Measure H volunteer

The Irvine Tattler isn’t a blog; it’s a Web-based vehicle that has its digital roots in the Irvine Chronicle, a piece of political literature that reprinted copyrighted news stories without permission. The Irvine Chronicle, oddly enough, used unethically tactics to question the ethics of the Great Park team which consisted of Beth Krom, Larry Agran and Suhkee Kang.

Today’s Tattler strains credibility to link a local attorney to alledgedly extremist Islamic groups under the “proof” so weak, it doesn’t hold water. And they have to go shilling on the red blogs to get readers, with publisher Steve Smith positing links to a new piece that tries mightily to connect Larry Agran and Beth Krom to Muslim Groups.

The attorney, Todd Gallinger, is the Treasurer for the Yes on Measure H group seeking to permanently ban sitting city council members from being active lobbyists. The same Measure H supported by Council Members Christina Shea and Steven Choi (that’s right, the same two who voted against the Ethics Ordinance twice and offered an alternative plan to vote the Ethics Package in but exclude the Lobbyist portion. And the same Christina Shea whose consulting firm is still found throughout the Internet offering government relations services (*LOBBYING*).

Unlike this blog, where readers can and do respond to any mistakes we make, there is no such mechanism to fix errors or outright lies on the Tattler. That option is not provided. For example, Tattler publisher Stephen Smith provided a link to a KOCE piece with Christina Shea on the search for the Great Park CEO. Shea said the search committee recommended the Chairman’s (Larry Agran) best friend, which is not true and would be a big surprise to Agran’s real best friend. The truth is, through the lawsuit filed by Shea and Choi, the fees that they both voted on to hire a recruiting firm to screen applicants and match skills sets to what the Great Park Board wants in a CEO is wasted money. Anyone who’s ever worked for a mid to large size business knows how C-level searches are conducted and Shea and Choi undermined the process. But you won’t read that on the Tattler.

Here’s what they wrote:

Gallinger’s Ties to Allegedly Radical Groups

According to a listing on the Muslims Online Directory, Gallinger has worked with the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), the Muslim World League (MWL), and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). The U.S. Treasury Department in August 2006 issued a statement that the IIRO’s branch offices in the Phillipines and Indonesia were “facilitating fundraising for al Qaida and affiliated terrorist groups.”

The New York Times reported in March 2002 that IIRO and MWL offices were “suspected by the Treasury Department of laundering money for Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.” Their offices were raided “by the Treasury Department’s counterterrorism task force responsible for stopping the flow of money to terrorist organizations in the United States and abroad.” A 2001 BBC News broadcast described WAMY as “a suspected terrorist organisation.”

In June 2004, the Washington Post reported that Federal agents raided the WAMY office in Virginia. “Sources said the raid was part of an investigation into whether the group’s operations around the world have financial and other ties to terrorists, but the scope of the probe could not be learned because the case is under court seal.”

Gallinger also works as a legal counsel for the Council for American Islamic Relations. CAIR’s web site states its mission is “to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” Among other activities, its Civil Rights Department “counsels, mediates and advocates on behalf of Muslims and others who have experienced religious discrimination, defamation or hate crimes. The department works to protect and defend the constitutional rights of American Muslims, thereby supporting the rights of all Americans.”

CAIR has been accused of having ties to radical international groups. The New York Times reported in March 2007 that “A small band of critics (like the Tattler-Dan comment) have made a determined but unsuccessful effort to link it to Hamas and Hezbollah.” The article noted, “Government officials in Washington said they were not aware of any criminal investigation of the group. More than one described the standards used by critics to link CAIR to terrorism as akin to McCarthyism, essentially guilt by association.”

Krom, Agran and Kang, have supported CAIR’s Southern California chapter located in Anaheim, and have been active in promoting peaceful relations with Irvine’s Muslim community.

This from the same publication that talks about the busloads of Taiwanese who came in from out of town to protest Irvine’s sister city program; Because most of the Taiwanese who live in Irvine didn’t show up.

Since the Irvine Tattler will not allow Todd to correct the record, I have given him this opportunity to make a statement addressing the story.

“As an attorney, I’m required to use discretion when it comes to client matters. As a result, I normally do not talk about who I do or don’t represent unless I have that person’s permission. Thankfully in this case, I can address all issues raised as they involved public initiatives and I have permission to speak publicly, though again only in a personal capacity. I’ve represented The Council on American Islamic Relations California (CAIR-CA) in two class action lawsuits, filed with the ACLU, addressing long term systematic delays in the processing of citizenship applications.

I’ve volunteered with CAIR-CA for many years, and know all the people involved in the Anaheim office, and am proud to consider them friends. I consult with them often in connection with other community activities I’m involved in. As a Muslim group, CAIR National, is routinely subject to entirely baseless allegations of involvement with terrorism. All these accusations have been thoroughly discredited, but Islamaphobic neo-cons continue to use the tools of McCarthyism.

The other groups mentioned, IIRO, MWL, and WAMY are all foreign based charities or NGOs who are members of the Friends of Charities Association (FOCA), a trade group of foreign nonprofits. While in law school in DC (where FOCA is based), I did some work with FOCA developing best practices for financial controls at charities. The problem of poor financial controls, which could prevent some of the allegations alleged about charity funds being stolen to fund terrorism, is extremely difficult to solve due to the primitive banking systems where many of these groups work and also the emergency nature of much international aid work. But, IIRO, MWL, and WAMY are all also Islamic charities based in Saudi Arabia. Accordingly they take a lot of flack and apparently my work with them, even though I like to think it might further national security, comes under fire.

I think Smith’s attacks are typical of the attacks of bigots of all stripes on American Muslims in specific and immigrant (read nonwhite) communities in general. In the politcal sphere it often takes the following form: Take the most meager of allegations and use guilt by association to suppress political participation of specific group.

As an Anglo American Muslim, I am sometimes exposed to open bigotry behind closed doors. Apparently the Republicans in the race (Christina Shea and Steven Choi) and their politcal machine have decided to rely upon such bigotry as an election tool, by raising these allegations simply because I am volunteer treasurer for a local non-parisan initiative committee. I think this shows us that the mayor’s race in Irvine, between Sukhee Kang and Christina Shea, is one of the most important local races this year.

I also want to briefly respond to the baseless allegations about how Yes on Measure H Irvine (of which I am the treasurer) “laundered” money for Mayor Krom. The Tattler’s basis for this claim, we both made payments to the same vendor on the same day. I had no idea the Mayor even used the same printer until someone emailed me the Tattler article this morning. I think Steven Colbert would be astonished by the truthiness of the Tattler.

I’ve emailed Steven Smith to let him know that his allegation is totally false, and also gave him my phone number to answer any more questions. I haven’t heard back yet, but hopefully he’ll do the right thing and take it down.”

Don’t hold your breath Todd.