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Witness Protection Program: Bystander Doug Winslow gets stuck in the middle of campaign ethics turmoil.

Public Eye

Shooting the Messenger

As San Jose closes in on the Nov. 5 election, not only is the mudslinging against opposing candidates in full effect, it's also sucking in peripheral folks, tornado-style. At least, that's how Doug Winslow sees it. He tells Eye that friends have warned him that certain officials working on the Ed Voss for San Jose City Council campaign have it in for him. That would make some sense--he's the key informant responsible for keeping alive an ethics charge against Voss' campaign that threatens to blow up further before the election. Winslow was the guy whose company, American Data Management, whipped up the Voss mailers that developer Robert Emami's $20,000 contribution bought. The three-person San Jose Ethics Board decided to drop the charges against Voss supporter and City Council staffer David Garretson Jr. for his role in helping set up the deal. But following criticism by Winslow of the board's handling of the Oct. 10 hearing, wherein the Voss campaign was cleared of wrongdoing, the board expanded the investigation to Voss campaign engineer Ed McGovern's role in the mailings. In another hearing last Thursday, Oct. 17, the board heard Winslow's prepared statement alleging that McGovern's and Garretson's testimony given at the previous Friday's hearing "was not true. ... Their attempt at covering up the truth was morally wrong." He also told the ethics panel that McGovern and his associate Don Cecil called him to arrange Emami's "independent" expenditure to pay for four Voss campaign mailings. At the hearing, McGovern and Cecil admitted calling Winslow, but did not admit discussing the mailing details. Winslow described the men's admissions as "stunning." But the most appalling comment of the day, he tells Eye, came out of earshot of the ethics board. Winslow says that Muffie Meier, a partner with McGovern at Public Affairs Associates, passed him in the aisle and said under her breath, "Don't you think you need to go to a meeting?" Winslow says she was referring to Alcoholics Anonymous, a sign that her firm had dug up some personal information about him. He says it's "pretty pitiful that I would be there in City Hall chambers and a McGovern operative would walk by me and say such a nasty thing." Meier, meanwhile, tells Eye she was at the hearing to support her colleagues and heartily denies making that comment to Winslow. "Let me tell you, I wouldn't speak to him anytime, anywhere, for any reason," she snapped, "because he's made false accusations about my business partner." She adds that her office doesn't have time to worry about Winslow's personal life. McGovern lays into Winslow as well. "I think his credibility is zero," he says. In terms of digging up dirt, McGovern says he only knows about Winslow's financial problems because friends of his called and tipped him off. The saga continues with another ethics board hearing scheduled for Oct. 28.

Wamm Fights Back

On Nov. 4, Santa Cruz cooperative the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) gets its day in court to argue with the federal government for the return of 167 pot plants the Drug Enforcement Agency seized in a raid on Sept. 5. WAMM's lawyers will argue the motion to return the plants--which relies on the Fourth Amendment's search and seizure rights, the 14th Amendment's due process guarantee and the 10th Amendment's state rights of governance--in San Jose's federal court in front of Judge Jeremy Fogel, even though they're pretty sure the feds already destroyed the crop. But whether or not they win this round, it's just one battle, not the war. The real goal is bigger. "I want the law changed, and I want the federal government to stop its tyranny against sick and dying people," says Valerie Corral, who runs WAMM with her partner, Michael. "When the government takes harsh and unjust action against its people and ignores the democratic process, that's recognized as tyranny." So Corral is planning a lawsuit against said tyranny to be filed sometime around Thanksgiving. Benjamin Rice, one of WAMM's attorneys, explains, "We're going to ask the judge to enjoin the DEA from harassing in any fashion WAMM or its members. Essentially, we just want the DEA to leave us alone." Rice says the suit has not been put together yet, but the idea behind it is that the DEA violated, among others, the 10th Amendment, which reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." As Valerie and Michael stated in declarations filed with the San Jose court on Sept. 23, they "direct a peaceful collective hospice organization to assist seriously ill and dying patients in managing the pain and suffering with which they are afflicted. ... This cultivation and use of medical marijuana is pursuant to the recommendations of physicians and is in full compliance with the laws of the State of California." The gist of what Rice intends to argue in the upcoming lawsuit is that, based on the Bill of Rights, the federal government broke the law by trying to control WAMM's members-only, California-residents-only, doctor-recommended, free medical marijuana farm. Rice, a criminal defense lawyer who's based in Santa Cruz but also practices in Santa Clara and Monterey counties, seems like a swell man for the job. He's already won two cases for growers of medical marijuana whose plants he says officials illegally seized.

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From the October 24-30, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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