Harkey’s Politically Motivated Lawsuit Weak on Several Fronts

Assenblywoman Diane Harkey (R)
Assenblywoman Diane Harkey (R)
Assenblywoman Diane Harkey (R)

Republican State Rep. Diane Harkey of Dana Point, who is a candidate for the Board of Equalization, has filed a lawsuit against a fellow Republican, State Senator Mark Wyland of San Diego who is a candidate for the same BoE seat, for $10 million alleging that Wyland defamed her by making statements about the legal and financial woes of her husband Dan.  Wyland is no prize either but Harkey has a track record of whining about lawyers and calling for tort reform.

So Harkey is seeking millions in damages for the defamation.  An item was posted this item on the Flash Report in the wee small hours of this morning and it’s a great read:

Are there bounds of decency in which campaigns should be run?  I think so.

Before joining the Assembly, I built a very successful 30-year career in finance.  My husband of 30 years, Dan, also built his businesses, but did so independent of my career interests.

When the real estate downturn came, one of Dan’s investment firms took a hit.  Many investors, who were forewarned about the risks of investing, saw their portfolios shrink as a result of the economic crisis.  That’s not unusual.

A handful of investors filed suit, even though they knew the risks of investing.  Unfortunately for California businesses, that’s not unusual either.

What is unusual is that one of my political opponents for the Board of Equalization, Mark Wyland, has taken an active interest in the plight of these plaintiffs.  Why would a State Senator from San Diego County spend time and a money getting to know plaintiffs in a real estate investment lawsuit in Orange County?  Is he worried for these investors?  Does he want to help these investors?  Does he really care?

Of course not.  Mark Wyland’s only reason to be actively involved is because he believes it will help him win election to the Board of Equalization.

However, Mark has a huge problem.  I was not involved in the Point Center investment firm.  The court confirmed that when the judge dismissed me from the case long ago.  Dan’s company and businesses have always been exclusively Dan’s.  My career and service as an elected official have always been my focus.

Apparently this fact hasn’t deterred Mark Wyland.  In recent weeks, Mark has spoken to small groups and attacked me for the lawsuit – often being shouted down and booed from the audience as he spoke.   Nobody likes it when a politician attacks a candidate for the spouse’s business challenges.

To me, that’s just politics, and I know voters will reject Mark’s attacks.  But, there is a more serious issue at stake.  In his fervor over the Point Center issue, Mark Wyland has told audiences that the judge ruled Point Center Financial defrauded its investors.  That statement is patently false, and extremely damaging to Dan’s reputation.

There’s no doubt that Mark Wyland knows his statements are untrue.  He even paid political consultants to sit in the court room and monitor the proceedings – a fact which he fails to mention when talking about this case.  Mark Wyland knows the truth because he’s paid his people to keep him informed.

I believe the time has come to act.  I’ve asked the courts to review Mark’s statements and act on any instance of malicious defamation.  The reason is clear: campaigning for public office and attacking your opponent is one thing.  Making up completely wrong facts to destroy someone’s life and reputation is another thing entirely.

Mark Wyland has shown he is willing to cross the lines of decency, propriety, and truth.  We’ve asked for an apology, and he said no.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.  Do you?

As a public official, Harkey is going to have to prove that Wyland knew what he was saying was false and said it anyway, but she’s going to have to prove he acted with actual malice.  The laughable part is Harkey’s comment that what Wyland said is damaging to her husband’s reputation.  I’d say the lawsuit where Dan Harkey is on the wrong end of one judgment has already done enough to damage his reputation. And for Harkey to complain about Republicans “making up wrong facts to destroy someone’s life and reputation” is hysterical.  Isn’t that what the Republican Party, especially here in Orange County, is well known for?

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