Davis Blamed for Cancelling Pro-Life Group's Use of Statehouse

July 7, 2008 - 8:21 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A pro-life organization is slamming California Gov. Gray Davis for cancelling the group's use of a room at the statehouse for a Wednesday news conference criticizing the governor and other elected officials over abortion, but blame is being passed around between offices connected with the event.

According to the American Life League (ALL), a Virginia-based pro-life organization, the Democratic governor's office pulled the plug on using the statehouse in Sacramento for a news conference Wednesday to unveil an advertisement critical of state's lack of support for pro-life legislation.

The apparent last-minute reversal came even though ALL claimed it had received permission to use the venue almost a month ago.

At a news conference held in an alternate location Wednesday, ALL officials denounced the cancellation, claiming it was politically motivated.

"I wish I could honestly say I'm surprised by the actions of Gray Davis' office, but I am not," said ALL President Judie Brown in a statement.

"I'm sure he'd have us believe this decision was an objective one that came at such a late time out of necessity, but that's as believable as his claim to be a faithful Catholic while openly supporting the murder of pre-born children through legalized abortion," Brown said.

The pro-life group had scheduled the statehouse news conference to unveil a new ad being run in state newspapers that features what it calls "California's Deadly Dozen" - a reference to Davis and 11 other elected officials from California who are Catholic but also support abortion "rights" in one way or another. The Roman Catholic Church opposes abortion.

Among those listed in the ad along with Davis are Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Loretta and Linda Sanchez, and Diane Watson.

"These 12 California politicians claim to be Catholics, but their public support for the deadly practice of legalized abortion is scandalous in the eyes of the church," the ad reads.

Whodunit?

Responsibility for the cancellation is muddled, with ALL blaming Davis and the governor's office blaming a Republican member of the state legislature.

According to ALL, a state official said the governor's office was rescinding permission because ALL was not addressing a specific piece of legislation and therefore did not meet the requirement for a non-governmental organization to use the room.

"I'm a little less than convinced that that is the actual reason why they cancelled it and frankly, why they waited till 15 minutes before the close of business to contact us to tell they were going to reject it when they had already approved it once," spokesman Joe Giganti said.

ALL said they learned of the cancellation at 4:45 p.m. the day before the scheduled event.

The press conference had been planned for almost two months, Giganti said, and was sponsored by California Assemblyman Tim Leslie, thereby meeting requirements for use of the room, Giganti said.

But Davis spokesman Russ Lopez said the governor's office had not given ALL permission to use the facility, saying if the group felt misled, it was Leslie, not the governor's office, who was responsible.

"They may have gotten permission from Leslie, not from us, not from our office," Lopez said.

"Only the governor and members of the Assembly or senators can reserve the room," said Lopez. "It's not meant for political purposes; it is not meant for campaign purposes. The assemblyman in question was misleading on that.

"When we found out that it was more of a political nature of a press conference, we called the assemblyman at 2 o'clock yesterday and told his chief of staff, 'I'm sorry, here are the rules for the room, you know this, and we're going to cancel this on you,"' Lopez added.

According to Lopez, if Leslie's chief of staff didn't inform ALL until later, "that is not on our back. It's on the assemblyman's watch.

"There was no disrespect meant for the cancellation, but I think Assembly Member Leslie's office should have checked better," Lopez said.

But Brian O'Neel, press secretary for Leslie, said he submitted a standard written application in Leslie's name to the governor's office in mid-April to use the room on May 7; he received permission in a follow-up phone call.

"It was always understood that we were going to be able to use that," O'Neel said.

"You're not going to go out and do something that's going to make you look stupid. If we were lying about this, that would certainly look stupid. We had all of our ducks in a row," he said.

Leslie also was aware that the facility could not be used for campaign and political events, O'Neel said.

"We're talking about these people's voting records. It's not like we're talking about their financial dealings or something that would be specifically political or campaign related. The reason that they're on the 'deadly dozen' list is because they have a voting record that shows they are in fundamental disagreement with their church on the issue of abortion," O'Neel said.

E-mail a news tip to Lawrence Morahan.

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