Digging in his heels to shield Isadore Hall, California’s top senator dismissed allegations that the ALRB appointee committed a crime when he threatened and intimidated witnesses.
Senate President Kevin de Leon rejected Senator Andy Vidak’s call for an investigation into Hall’s “obscenity-laced, threatening tirade” against farmers set to testify against his appointment to the ALRB.
A spokesman for de Leon brushed off the concerns as “goofy conspiracy theories.”
Hall’s loud verbal attack on farmers with the California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) took place in front of witnesses February 28 at the Hyatt Hotel in Sacramento. Some of the witnesses were planning to testify the next day against Hall’s appointment to the ALRB.
Senator Vidak accused de Leon of being in cahoots with the CFFA to “have worked things out so Hall won’t be investigated,” Vidak said in a public statement today.
Senator Vidak’s concerns
Vidak, a Republican from the Central Valley, filed a complaint March 24 with the Senate Ethics Committee “concerning a possible conspiracy to cover-up reported threats made by Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) Member Isadore Hall,” the senator’s office said in the statement.
“Vidak was informed on the Senate Floor yesterday by Senate President pro-Tempore Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) that there would be no investigation into the recently reported obscenity-laced, threatening tirade by former Senator Isadore Hall, now up for confirmation as a member of the ALRB,” the statement continued.
“Multiple sources have reported that on February 28, the night before a Senate Rules Committee hearing on Hall’s appointment to the ALRB, Hall made threats ‘to get’ several farmers who were scheduled to testify against his confirmation. The ALRB is a quasi-judicial agency that among other things issues rulings regarding labor laws and interactions between farm worker organizations and growers,” Vidak’s statement said.
Pick Justice reported on these threats when Vidak first revealed them on March 13. Threatening or intimidating witnesses is a criminal offense in California, punishable by imprisonment. Vidak wants an investigation before Hall’s confirmation vote before the full Senate.
De Leon rigged it so there will be no investigation; dismisses ‘goofy conspiracy theories’
“Senator De Leon (who chairs the Senate Rules Committee) told me yesterday that he and the leadership of the CFFA ‘have worked things out so Hall won’t be investigated,’” Vidak said in his March 24 statement. “Is this really how the Senate handles reports of threats and intimidation by someone pending a Senate confirmation vote?”
“Chasing goofy conspiracy theories might fly on President Trump’s Twitter feed, but it has no place in the California Legislature,” a de Leon spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.
Big Ag might be in cahoots with de Leon to protect Hall, Vidak says
The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA), which represents growers or Big Agriculture, offered tepid opposition Hall at his March 1 Senate confirmation hearing.
The weakness of Big Ag’s opposition caused Pick Justice to fear that major growers cut a deal with de Leon, or maybe paid off the UFW like some growers have done, to keep the UFW quiet and make it go away (as the UFW has done before).
Senator Vidak was also troubled by the CFFA’s weakness.
“Now, more than ever, there needs to be an investigation by somebody,” Vidak said in his statement. “Has this reported ‘arrangement’ with the CFFA ‘leaders’ to roadblock an investigation into Hall been agreed to by the four other members of the Senate Rules Committee? Hard to believe that Rules Committee members pretending nothing happened somehow serves the public’s interest or the rights of farm workers or farmers?”
CFFA denies collusion, says is still opposes Hall
Later, the CFFA denied colluding with de Leon to protect Hall, and said it “remains opposed” to Hall on the ALRB.
“The association called the allegation that it worked out an agreement with De León ‘baseless and false,'” Patrick McGreevy reported in the Los Angeles Times.
An unnamed CFFA source told the Times that Vidak did not contact the organization before he made his allegations. “If he did, he would’ve learned there is no agreement and that CFFA remains opposed to the confirmation of Senator Hall,” the CFFA said.