Will Gibson’s emails to his lover surface before election?

April 23, 2014
Bruce Gibson

Bruce Gibson

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

For more than 17 months, San Luis Obispo County officials have claimed they are attempting to comply with the California Public Records Act, yet they have failed to provide emails that could tarnish the reputation of a supervisor currently running for reelection, as required by law.

The California Public Records Act is a powerful tool used by reporters and the public to uncover governmental shortcomings and illegal activities. The act was enacted more than 40 years ago after it was determined that timely public access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right.

Nevertheless, nearly a year and a half has passed since San Luis Obispo County received a public records request for emails exchanged between Supervisor Bruce Gibson and his romantically entangled legislative assistant Cherie McKee, who previously went by the name of Cherie Aispuro. The county promised Los Osos resident Julie Tacker, the maker of the request, six years of Gibson-McKee emails but has only delivered two and a half years of messages, Tacker stated in a grand jury complaint she filed Monday.

In November 2012, Gibson revealed that he had been engaged in a long term affair with McKee. The second-term supervisor announced that McKee had won his heart and that he was planning on divorcing his wife of multiple decades.

Three days after learning of the affair, County Counsel Rita Neal and County Administrator Dan Buckshi cleared Gibson of any wrongdoing. Neal and Buckshi said they reviewed approximately 6,000 emails between Gibson and McKee and determined the pair had not used any county resources  and had not violated any county policies during the course of their affair.

On November 29, 2012, Tacker submitted a request under the California Public Records Act for the emails Neal had already reviewed, as well as other documents she examined, such as travel reimbursements. Neal responded saying it would require considerable time to review and redact the emails, but that she estimated it would take less than a month to deliver them.

Neal has since sent Tacker several batches of emails but has not released any since November 2013. The majority of the emails remain outstanding, Tacker said.

Gibson, who is nearing the end of his second term, is currently running for reelection. The primary election, which will likely determine whether or not he keeps his seat, takes place on June 3, and absentee voters will receive ballots in two weeks.

“The evidence, if provided at this time, would be detrimental to the supervisor’s bid for reelection,” Tacker wrote in her complaint to the San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury. “The delay and over-redacting surrounding this particular request is not because it is voluminous as much as it is because it reveals that indeed county resources were used in the supervisor’s affair.”

Gibson said in his Tribune announcement of the affair that he and McKee always gave 110 percent to the job. But, one string of messages released by Neal brought into question whether Gibson and McKee were always hard at work.

On April 12, 2012, Gibson and McKee agreed by email to postpone a conversation with a constituent until the next day.

“OK, I don’t have the energy to deal with this today anyway,” Gibson wrote in an afternoon email.

McKee responded to him that day at 4:01 p.m.

“I just woke up,” she wrote. “You wiped me out.”

“Sorry to be so demanding! :)” Gibson replied.

This year, Tacker has given Neal three reminders of the outstanding record request, none of which received responses, Tacker wrote in her complaint.

In a prior reply to Tacker, Neal said she managed to review the thousands of documents in just a matter of a few days because, as the county attorney, she could view parts of documents exempt from public disclosure. She later said during a board meeting that complying with the request was taking hundreds of hours of staff time and costing the county thousands of dollars.

Neal did not respond to a CalCoastNews email asking why she has not released the emails and whether or not it has anything to do with the upcoming election.

Tacker copied the grand jury complaint to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office and would like for a member of the agency to instruct Neal to comply with the public records act, she said.

It is unlikely the grand jury would take any action on the matter prior to the June 3 election. Still, if the body chooses to investigate the matter, there exists the possibility of the grand jury finding wrongdoing beyond failure to comply with the records act.

If the grand jury were to find criminal conduct on the part of Gibson or other county officials, it could call for prosecution.

“Who knows what’s in there?” Tacker said. “There could be criminal implications on more than just the public record act.”


Loading...
rigrhonda

Wow… a Grand Jury complaint. It is really late in their year (July 1 to June 30) to even get rolling on anything so large and timely now. They have to wrap up all the investigations and complaints they’ve been doing since last July 1. For the most part, the Good Citizens who serve on the Grand Jury are older folks and retirees and people with time to devote to driving to downtown SLO several days a week for the something like $15. per diem plus mileage.


Oh, I suppose the Grand Jury could elect to drop everything they are trying to wrap up (including their Final Report), do a full blown investigation, which might well take a couple of months. They might then make a recommendation to the District Attorney for criminal prosecution (who would have to do his own formal investigation, which could also take months), but let’s be realistic. We’re talking about the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and his aide. We’re talking about the County Counsel. We’re talking about a retiring District Attorney. We’re talking about an outgoing Grand Jury.


So the value in filing a Grand Jury complaint at this date is the publicity value of such a grand gesture. It sounds menacing… and grand, and it will certainly embarrass the Supervisor et al, but I don’t think this particular move will bring about much of anything. Better to appeal to the Attorney General of California. She doesn’t have a horse in this race.


fishing village

Publicity!!, THAT’S IT! Julie thinks up ways to stir the pot, over and over again.


fishing village

Vote for Gibson or the other guy. What is Julie’s motive for digging and digging and using County resources before the election?


Slowerfaster

Narcissism and ego. ^^^


givemeabreak

Vote for the ETHICAL guy Fishing Village….that would be Muril Clift. Not your savior who can not seem to keep his penis in his pants.


isoslo

Since they have not been forthright about providing the e-mails, it makes me wonder if there are some things Gibson does not want the public to see. If the e-mails had been produced in a timely manner, even if there was some romantic stuff in there, the constituents would give him a break. Me thinks I smell a rat! To me that is more than enough to question the man’s integrity.


SanSimeonSam

Yes there is a rat and the rat is named Gail Wilcox. Less we forget that Gibson and crew paid out $200,000 plus in hush money to keep her quiet. She should have been prosecuted and sent to jail but that would have led to disclosures that Gibson would not want made public.


SLOBIRD

Gail is not the only one!


Pelican1

From a practical standpoint, Bruce has already not only tarnished, but all but ruined his career.

Do we really need to review the alleged salacious emails of an adulterer? I think not.

We can’t change the spots on a leopard…but we can certainly vote him out of office.


pigsrule

The County isn’t going to investigate itself – it would implicate everyone. Not good.


Affairs aside, isn’t it always the coverup that gets them. Man, this county stinks of corruption.


cliffclaven

If nothing else, the e-mail trail shows a total lack of intelligence. Independent of party or politics, persons of such stupidity should not hold public office.


Gsan

Will Shea respond? Will either of the DA candidates respond?


OnTheOtherHand

Shea? Ha! Ha! Ha!


It is a question I would like to ask the candidates to replace him but since their isn’t a big public outcry (except on this site), I doubt either of them will take a stand on the issue.


Slowerfaster

Do any of you revolting peasants understand the words of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution ? Have you even read it ?


I would be willing to bet that ya’ll know the 1st and 2nd Amendments by heart.


Supervisor Gibson is under no obligation to make public his correspondence, papers, and effects to any unreasonable search or seizure.. Certainly not beyond whatever revelations he has willingly provided so far.


If you witch hunters want more, then get an indictment with specific charges that would support the issuance of a warrant.


kettle

If any emails involve the peoples business they must be made available (subject to rules etc)

This includes private email accounts, if ANY of the people’s business was discussed by elected officials. This has already been settled in the California courts.


BeenThereDoneThat

Slower your brush you are painting with is WIDE!!!


The Fourth Amendment proscribes unreasonable seizure of any person, person’s home or personal property without a warrant.


So if they guy is using a Gov. computer, I don’t think you can claim that as personnel?


You say where is the warrant? It is called the California Public Relations Act.


If you were making the argument that they went into Gibson’s home and took a computer of his or other personnel items I would agree but in this case, Gov. official at work on public provided computer? Your argument doesn’t hold water.


Slowerfaster

Case law and SCOTUS decisions disagree.

Mapp V. Ohio and Katz V. United States establish the supremacy of federal Constitutional guidelines over state provisions.


The warrant requirement extends from the privacy of individuals to physical locations.


Without a specific charge of wrongdoing and a consequent warrant, Gibson need not provide anything …and he shouldn’t.


Rumor, innuendo, gossip, and orchestrated character assassination are not grounds for reasonable search and seizure.


Get used to it.


Though they may not like it much, American proto-fascists are still living in a constitutional democracy.


BeenThereDoneThat

I would direct you to paragraphs two and three.


http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/email-privacy-29610.html


You are comparing apples and oranges. You are arguing warrants and illegal search in the privacy of one’s home. Going back to the fourth, I didn’t want to go through every aspect on prior post but there is a part that also addressed being in public.


We are talking email and there has been a LOT of back and fourth as to who owns the information. You or your boss. Again who’s computer is it? Ours? Yep nuff said.


Let’s put it this way. You go to work tomorrow and are wasting time while you are on the clock, with personnel business, your boss could fire you. So PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE explain how is that different here? He is in the employ of WE the people.


Kevin Rice

SLOWERfaster,


That’s rich! LOL! Government email isn’t protected by the 4th Amendment. It’s the People’s business and the California Constitution, Article I, Section 3 reads:


The people have the right of access to information

concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the

meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and

agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.


I like your word choice… “revolting peasants”. That PRECISELY reflects how Gibson and his supporters think of county residents.


Now, go hose yourself off.


Slowerfaster

“Government email isn’t protected by the 4th Amendment. It’s the People’s business and the California Constitution, Article I, Section 3 reads:”


See above ^^^


“I like your word choice… “revolting peasants”. That PRECISELY reflects how Gibson and his supporters think of county residents.”


Oh, I don’t think that way about ALL county residents.

Only a few peasants that are rabble rousing stink stirrers with no better pursuits in their pitifully miserable lives than to make alot of noise and be chronic complainers…while being self-justified as some kind of faux ‘revolutionaries’.


The arguments are laughable. The responses to my comment above are definitive answers regarding my initial questions.

And the answers to these questions …both times, are NO.


Kevin Rice

Your crackpot legal theory is a joke.


“Any record required by law to be kept by an officer, or which he keeps as necessary or convenient to the discharge of his official duty, is a public record.” (San Gabriel Tribune v. Superior Court (1983) 143 Cal.App.3d 762, 774.)


“In enacting the CPRA the Legislature expressly declared that “access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.” (§ 6250.) “Thus, the Act was passed ‘to ensure public access to vital information about the government’s conduct of its business.’ ” (City of San Jose v. Superior Court, supra, 74 Cal.App.4th at p. 1016, quoting CBS, Inc. v. Block (1986) 42 Cal.3d 646, 656; Gilbert v. City of San Jose (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 606, 610.) As the California Supreme Court has explained, “[o]penness in government is essential to the functioning of a democracy. ‘Implicit in the democratic process is the notion that government should be accountable for its actions. In order to verify accountability, individuals must have access to government files. Such access permits checks against the arbitrary exercise of official power and secrecy in the political process.’ ” (International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21, AFL-CIO v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal.4th 319, 328-329 (International Federation), quoting CBS, Inc. v. Block, supra, 42 Cal.3d at p. 651.)” (City of San Jose v. Smith, No. H039498, Slip Op., ___ Cal.App. ___ (6th Dist., April 18, 2014).)


“Under the CPRA, “[p]ublic records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereinafter provided.” (§ 6253, subd. (a).) As noted earlier, the term “public records” is defined in section 6252, subdivision (e), to include any writing relating to the public’s business if it is “prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency.”6 “This broad definition is designed to protect the public’s need to be informed regarding the actions of government . . . .” (Poway Unified School Dist. v. Superior Court (Copley Press) (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 1496, 1501; accord, California State University v. Superior Court (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 810, 824.) The Act defines a “local agency” to include “a county; city, whether general law or chartered; city and county; school district; municipal corporation; district; political subdivision; or any board, commission or agency thereof; other local public agency; or entities that are legislative bodies of a local agency pursuant to subdivisions (c) and (d) of Section 54952.” (§ 6252, subd. (a).)” (Id..)


A “writing” is defined in section 6252, subdivision (g) as “any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.”


“Subdivision (b)(2) [of California Constitution, article I, section 3] provides guidance on the proper construction of statutes affecting this right of access: ‘A statute, court rule, or other authority, including those in effect on the effective date of this subdivision, shall be broadly construed if it furthers the people’s right of access, and narrowly construed if it limits the right of access.’ ” (Sierra Club v. Superior Court (2013) 57 Cal.4th 157, 166.)


SLOBIRD

“But, one string of messages released by Neal brought into question whether Gibson and McKee were always hard at work.”

Oh, they were probably hard at work, the question is what the job was…


This indecent, immoral, corrupt Mr. GIBSON has no shame in having the taxpayers paying for his whore, Cherie Aispuro McKEE. Plain and simply, the taxpayers pay his and her salary and at 4 pm she is exhausted from him and his extramarital affair activities and no one given a damn.


Ms. Neal should be fired and run out of town. What goes, is she one of Gibson’s old flames, incompetent, or is she corrupt as well? Something is not right and the Grand Jury should investigate her rulings and behavior regarding decisions. She obviously has forgotten who she works for.


Vote for MURIL CLIFT – DISTRICT 2 a man of morals and integrity!


Kevin 99

Of all of these posts, yours wins the prize for most nasty.


1. The use of the term “whore” identifies you as a misogynist of the worst sort. Yours is the kind of bilious, hateful post that makes everyone’s IQ drop a notch just by having read it.


2. You suggest that Ms. Neal should be “run out of town.” Why? Oh, I understand that you think she is not doing her job, but you believe that she should be so hounded on a personal level that she finds it necessary to move away? More nastiness, and your mother should slap you for it.


3. And to insinuate that she has had some sort of illicit relationship with Gibson is just one more rotten dollop of frosting on your putrid cake.


You’re awful.


Justducky

You are disgusting with your name calling!


givemeabreak

At least SLOBIRD calls it like it is!


OnTheOtherHand

The affair doesn’t bother me as much (politically) as the subsequent coverup and the games played to keep Aispuro/McKee employed.


However, asking for a Grand Jury investigation is pretty much a waste of time as their past recommendations have a history of being ignored if those in power don’t like them. The only “teeth” they have is publicity and not many SLO Co voters get their news from CCN (or even New Times).


kayaknut

Welcome to San Luis Obispo politics, protect those in power at any cost.


pasoparent5

Actually, only SOME in power are protected…if it were Supervisor Debbie Arnold or Supervisor Frank Mecham involved, I highly doubt it would take the county this long to release THEIR emails. Gibson and Hill often seem to receive special treatment.


SLOBIRD

Debbie Arnold for sure, no doubt. Frank Mecham appeared to be on board with Hill and Gibson and seems to be enjoying the Kool-Aid they are serving him. From what I have heard, he has been a major disappoint to his constituents. Next election for Frank will be interesting unless he pulls a Caren Ray tactic and plays games regarding votes that don’t matter to separate himself. They all take lessons to deceive us and he pay for it…


1 2 3 4