Huntington Beach consumer attorney Lenore Albert is the Democratic candidate for Assembly in AD-72 taking on Travis Allen. There’s a lot of rumors about Albert out there in the wild and one’s need needs to address on her own. So here’s a Q&A to help voters in AD-72 get to know her better.
Tell us who you are and why you’re running for State Assembly?
My name is Lenore Albert and I am running for the seat in Assembly District 72 because I want to protect the interests of the underserved and fight hard to bring back the middle class.
In Your Opinion, why are you qualified to be in the State Assembly?
I not only believe that I am qualified to be in the State Assembly but am the most qualified candidate running for this seat because I have spent the last 15 years advocating for consumer rights and in the interest of small business. I earned a BA degree in economics from California State Long Beach and a JD degree from McGeorge School of Law. As a small business owner living in Westminster and working in Huntington Beach, I understand how the local economy works and is functioning here. Beyond the courtroom where I litigate as part of my profession, I have been advocating for consumer rights through organizations such as Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) where we go educate the legislature every year on important consumer rights issues.
I have been referred to as a ‘judicial activist’ as though it is a bad thing (although I am not a judge). I take it as a compliment. However, I have a reached a point of diminishing returns in my role as an attorney so I decided to run for Assembly so I could continue to help consumers, small businesses and the underserved.
How has Travis Allen fallen short?
Travis Allen publicly ran his campaign on the premise he was going to represent Huntington Beach in Sacramento. There is nothing wrong with that promise that he made, however, AD72 only governs Huntington Beach from Ellis Street inward (towards Westminster). In addition to Huntington Beach, there are eleven (11) other cities, or portions of cities, within this district and they have been ignored. If elected, I intend to represent all constituents and their interests as a whole. No one area should be give special treatment over another.
Fundamentally, Travis Allen and I are natural opposites, giving the voting population a real choice. Travis Allen by profession focuses on assisting people with wealth accumulation, which tends to cater to the wealthier individuals and large corporate interests. I, on the other hand, have been a consumer attorney for fifteen years focusing on holding large corporations, insurance companies or government agencies accountable for injuries that they have inflicted upon the people and small business owners in civil cases. I have spent the past five years trying to hold Wall Street financial institutions accountable, and at times, have been successful. Travis Allen sits on the Banking committee in Sacramento but has done nothing to hold Wall Street accountable or help the victims of wrongful foreclosure. Travis Allen voted against raising the minimum wage. I don’t think raising the minimum wage, alone, will help our community, but raising the minimum wage while ensuring people do not lose their subsidized benefits until we can get people to a living wage is a necessary component. To say some companies cannot afford it is short sighted. Take the example of Wal-Mart. It is common knowledge that Wal-Mart is making huge profits while asking the tax payers to subsidize their employees with welfare benefits because they receive such a low wage. From a taxpayer’s perspective, keeping wages low does not make economic sense.
If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in the Assembly?
I have a lot of hope to accomplish many things. One of my main concerns is to stop the permanent displacement of an entire socioeconomic class. When I say I am running for the State Assembly to protect the underserved and fight hard to bring back the middle class, I mean every word of it. Let’s hold corporations accountable for injuries they cause from environmental pollution to downright economic fraud.
I went to the Westminster mall the other day. I had not been there in a very long time. I was shocked to see all of the closed stores. People say the recession is over. Walking around the mall, I saw a completely different picture. This is not just a Westminster problem.
I was in Laguna recently and although there were many people walking up and down the sidewalk, they were not carrying any bags in their hands. When homeowners raced into bankruptcy to save their homes, the laws were written in a way that the person could have all of their consumer debt forgiven, but many times they lost their home. They didn’t necessarily go into bankruptcy to erase their consumer debt, they went into bankruptcy to save their home from foreclosure (why they did that is a whole other longer discussion). Back to my example, what did this do to the retailers? It hit them hard. It is obvious. Wall Street banks caused all of this havoc. At the local level, this left cities, counties, and states with less tax revenue. The domino effect was not just on the homeowner, stock investor or even city dealing with urban blight. It was much larger than that and our State has yet to hold these banks fully accountable or to do anything to prevent it from happening again. I call it a permanent displacement of an entire socioeconomic class because, without serious intervention, that is exactly what it is. There is no bouncing back for the families that were hit with this type of financial blow because the economy at every level was hit in such a way that everyone is fighting over a smaller portion of the pie now. The elderly and disabled have no way of coming back because their income is fixed.
We have a severely underfunded court system which represents one-third of our government and the one branch that directly deals with the public on a day to day basis. Consumers have been left without a court reporter. Court reporters are now projecting that they need to work longer before they can retire. Without a court reporter, many times a plaintiff will have an inadequate record to take an appeal. Access to justice has been going in the wrong direction.
We don’t have enough teachers in our public school system and the teachers who are there, are having to take money out of their own salary to make sure their students have needed supplies. We are in desperate need of student loan reform. Some of that will have to come from the federal level, but there are things we can do at the state level, too. We need affordable housing and living wages. We need to bring back programs into our schools that are meaningful. We have single parent homes and still inequality in income. We need to empower people again and that is what I intend to do if elected as Assemblyperson for the 72nd district.
What are the biggest issues facing the district and how can you address them?
I have touched on some of the issues facing this district above. But just to expand on what I have already said, we have a college that sits in our district but according to the news, our housing is so unaffordable the Millenials are moving out of Orange County. We have cities that are going broke, like Westminster, but because no one is holding the large financial institutions truly accountable for the havoc they wreaked on our local economy, the city is looking at ways to tax the residents. This is unacceptable. Corporations and people alike, need to start taking responsibility for the risks that they take in life. I will not sell the people out or the local community to big corporate interests. I will author, sponsor and vote for common sense legislation to fully restore California.
Please tell us about your endorsements
I have received approximately 25 endorsements so far. I have been endorsed by the California Democratic party. I have also been endorsed by the International Longshore & Warehouse Union of Southern California District Council. Other notable endorsements include the Blue Day Society and their local leader, Jim LaPointe; local activist, Nellie Kaniski; local union leader, Ray Cordova; and other candidates, professional colleagues, and activists near and far (from Orange County to the UK).
There’s been suggestions you’re under investigation by the state bar and that you’re firm is in some sort of trouble; please tell us your side of the story.
I have been advocating the de-unification of the State Bar because it does not function in a way to protect the public interest or even give any benefits to the members of the bar that represent the public, like I have done for the past fifteen years. I went and spoke at their last hearing on this issue in April and from the comments I heard, I think de-unification will eventually happen. It is my hope that the State Bar turns over its disciplinary function to the Superior Court which already hears all legal malpractice claims by clients and has the State Bar focus solely on member services including their Sections which is where members of the bar can receive continuing legal education in various areas of the law. Other states have already done this like Nebraska.
I never paid much attention to the State Bar most of my career because it was just a place to pay my yearly fees to. However, when the financial crises hit, the State Bar made a move by introducing a bill that basically said no attorney could represent a homeowner in a loan modification with a bank unless they did it for free (because very few people were getting loan modifications at the time). This left the homeowner without representation, except for the most unscrupulous. I was always focused on litigation so I thought it was unfair and chucked it up to another example where the State Bar had no clue what was really going on in the real world. However, unbeknownst to me, a group of Soveriegn Citizen Extremists descended on my office. I did not know that they were these extremists or their prior relationships. I thought they were a medley of homeowner activists from Occupy and homeowner victims. Well, one thing led to another and they filed Bar complaints one after another.
The Bar eventually denied all of their Complaints, but they had the Bar so vested in the situation that the Bar decided to bring charges against me for failing to pay monetary sanctions to opposing counsel in these banking lawsuits and their lenders. Although the California Supreme Court has stated in three separate Opinions that the State Bar does not have the right to file these type of charges because they are not violations, the State Bar proceeded. Those charges are not by my clients and my clients have not waived the attorney-client privilege so I am bound by the privilege to not explain why those monetary sanctions were never paid. There is only one charge – purported failure to cooperate in a State Bar investigation by Tim and Jodi Sisson which has the informant being Cindy Brown. Cindy Brown is a Sovereign Citizen Extremist who is not an attorney but practices as a “Private Attorney General” which is something that sovereign citizens do.
First, the State Bar’s charge merely means the State Bar is accusing me of not cooperating with them – not that they found I did anything wrong. Second, that charge came up and through State Bar Prosecutor Erin Joyce, after Erin Joyce knew that Cindy Brown was a Sovereign Citizen Extremist and after the State Bar spent over a year investigating the various claims brought by the Sovereign Citizens and their supporters (which opposing counsel in my homeowner’s cases became). That means after I already sent the State Bar literally thousands of pages of documents, they came up with this charge. Cindy Brown took down her profile off of the website Common Law Offices of America, but left their solicitation for people to file State Bar complaints against me on there. I later learned that Cindy Brown and Sheri Moody had prior relationship with Anthony Williams, the owner of the site. He was helping Sheri Moody with her foreclosure in Florida as early as 2013. Sovereign Citizens target judges, law enforcement and attorneys like myself. They believe that the country was long ago and it is a corporation. They tend to write odd things and use phrases like “We The People” a lot. They believe that they can call up their own “grand jury” and for any crime, it is usually treason, and the punishment is death. As part of their harassment, one of their members, George Olivo, a relapsing drug addict, whom I had temporarily employed to box up files for me, came into my office in a rage on 7-11-14 and tried to hit me over the head with a statue on my desk.
This is what led me to get educated both about what Sovereign Citizen extremists were and what the State Bar was doing about it. I found out that Sovereign Citizen extremists were found to be the number one domestic terrorist threat in the United States by the NHS in February 2015. I also discovered that the State Bar had no desire to prosecute Cindy Brown or her colleagues who were engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. I am not convinced that Erin Joyce would have filed her charges against me if she was not trying to oust Jayne Kim at the time. I believe I was put in the middle of that entire debacle. I would be lying if I said my phone did not ring more than once, when it was announced that Jayne Kim was resigning.
I sued the State Bar for violating my constitutional rights and antitrust violations. First as to the former in federal court, and then I refiled in State court. The state court sustained a demurrer with prejudice to all claims except for two causes of action for invasion of privacy. I must wait until litigation is final before I can appeal the decision on the constitutional rights and antitrust violation. The way the State Bar is set up today, the prosecutorial unit generates revenue through winning prosecutions. It does not leave room for objectivity and gives incentive to testify in a certain way.
Most attorneys are afraid of the State Bar because they hold so much power. However, someone needed to stand up and do the right thing and that is what I am doing. I have a good reputation that precedes me. For example, I have written legal articles for the legal community in multiple magazines. I have won jury trials for clients in various cases from defamation to fraud. I have also won reversals on appeal and a few have even been published. I am not the type of attorney that is a danger to the public, I have a solid record of protecting the public through my advocacy.