The California Secretary of State’s office found no evidence of fraud during the 2008 county election for 3rd District Supervisor despite many claims to the contrary made by Santa Ynez Valley Journal owner and rancher Nancy Crawford-Hall and losing candidate Steve Pappas.
The news came out of the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office this week. DA Joyce Dudley said the state didn’t even intend to send reports of its findings down to her office for review, but she requested the reports to confirm the findings. She also concluded, based on the evidence, there were no crimes committed.
In her weekly column for the Valley Journal, Crawford-Hall has for months hinted that fraud was committed. She and Pappas, who lost to Doreen Farr — who is up for reelection this year and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending the case in civil court — have said that thousands of votes cast in Isla Vista and UCSB, where Farr dominated Pappas, should not have been counted. But virtually everyone who has reviewed the case has said otherwise.
County elections chief Joe Holland said there was no election fraud. Judge William McLafferty, who heard Pappas’s contest of the election in civil court, threw the case out after just a few days. An appellate court upheld McLafferty’s decision, and then Judge Colleen Sterne, in awarding Farr roughly $700,000 in attorney’s fees, also agreed, saying “important rights were vindicated.” Now, both the state’s fraud division and the District Attorney have joined in. “I certainly hope Mr. Pappas will finally accept how they decided,” Farr said in response to the DA’s announcement. “To do otherwise is misleading the public.”
Pappas and Crawford-Hall did not respond to requests for comment. An email sent to Paul Rutledge, chief investigator of the Secretary of State’s Election Fraud Investigation Unit, was not returned.