Next week it will have been three years since Steve Pappas lost to Doreen Farr in his quest for the 3rd District supervisorial seat.
And yet the remnants of that contest linger.
Pappas last week filed a notice with the Court of Appeal, announcing he intends to fight Judge Colleen Sterne’s August finding that he is responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees that Farr had accrued in defending herself against his contest of the November 2008 election results. Pappas lost that election to Farr by 806 votes out of 35,621. In challenging the election’s outcome, Pappas tried to argue there was widespread voter fraud in 18 precincts encompassing Isla Vista and UCSB.
The case has already been at the appellate level once, when Pappas appealed Judge William McLafferty’s decision that no fraud had been committed. The Court of Appeal denied Pappas outright. In a separate ruling, the Court of Appeal — relying on a recent, precedent-setting California Supreme Court case — also said Farr was entitled to attorney’s fees.
The case was sent back down to the superior court level, where Sterne calculated Pappas had to compensate Farr to the tune of $706,914. The official number — which has likely changed because of a calculating error — is probably not that high, but is at least in excess of $525,000.
The only issue on appeal this time around is the amount of money Pappas — who didn’t reply to an email; his attorney didn’t return a phone call either — has to pay Farr.
Because of the slow appellate process, the notice of appeal means Farr will likely not get her money until sometime late next year, or even farther down the line, putting her in a tough spot as she heads toward the 2012 election. With a primary only seven months away, Farr, who has said she plans to run for reelection, reported having only $27,111 in cash on hand as of June 30. There has been radio silence as to potential opponents for the 2012 race, though rest assured Farr will face a challenger for the 3rd District seat, which serves as a swing seat between North and South County. It’s also the largest district geographically, and thus, the most expensive in which to run a campaign.
As of the last campaign finance reporting period ending June 30, Farr’s campaign has paid $155,917 to attorney Fred Woocher and $72,656 to attorney Phil Seymour, according to statements submitted to the county. Still, this latest development didn’t come as unexpected to Farr’s team as she heads toward election season. “It’s just delaying the inevitable,” said Seymour, who received the notice of appeal Friday.