Adam Hill’s chief aide departing
August 9, 2012
San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill’s administrative assistant Susan Devine is stepping down amid swirling allegations that the supervisor exploited government resources promoting his reelection campaign, and then mounted an attempt to destroy media groups reporting on his often bizarre behavior.
Devine managed Hill’s successful campaign for supervisor in 2008. Hill later appointed Devine as his administrative assistant.
“Susan is the kindest and most resourceful person I know,” Hill said in a press release. “In my time in public life, all of my successes and none of my mistakes can be attributed to her guidance and good advice.”
In December, Hill sent an email from his county internet address entitled, “It all comes down to leadership.” In the email he listed reasons he believed he should win reelection, and asked recipients to donate to his campaign.
Hill’s use of his tax-supported office in his bid for reelection appears to be a violation of Government Codes 54964 and 8314, banning government officials from using public resources, including buildings, computers or phones to discourage or support a ballot measure or political campaign.
In addition, Hill has been using his elected position to bully advertisers and supporters of CalCoastNews in a campaign to cripple the website. Hill used his county internet address to send emails making false claims — for example, that CalCoastNews is an anti-government website paying sources to fabricate comments.
Several requests for emails Hill has sent out using government equipment to campaign for his reelection or defame CalCoastNews were denied by County Counsel Warren Jensen. Jensen claims that as long as Hill uses his private email account, regardless of whether he is using county resources, his correspondence is exempt from disclosure under California’s Public Record’s Act.
“Mr. Hill indicated to me that he has a private email account and that he would have used that private email account for any emails regarding the subjects that you identified in your request,” Jensen said in an email. “Any such emails on Mr. Hill’s private email account are not public records and are not subject to disclosure. I have personally prepared this response in consultation with Mr. Hill, as indicated in the foregoing.”
Until a few weeks ago the city of Auburn also refused to disclose emails sent by its government officials through private email accounts. A few months after California’s First Amendment attorney Peter Scheer filed a lawsuit against the city of Auburn, the city settled and agreed to make emails about city business public regardless of an officials use of a private email account.
“While a settlement does not create a legally-binding precedent for other cities, the First Amendment Coalition plans to use the agreement with Auburn as a model that other governments and agencies should adopt,” Scheer said. “Other cities and counties, if they are serious about providing transparency in government, will follow Auburn’s example. It costs them nothing, while simplifying the management of emails and improving compliance with open-record laws.”
In a press release, Carmel & Naccasha, LLP announced its paralegal, Hannah Miller, will be taking over the position as Hill’s legislative assistant.
“While we will miss Hannah’s energy, camaraderie and strong work ethic, we are thrilled for her about this opportunity,” according to the firm’s release. “Hannah is uniquely qualified for this position and we are truly excited to see her extraordinary people skills and extensive knowledge of law and of local government put to such a valuable public use.”