A legal-defense fund benefiting Democratic city councilwoman Myrtle Cole was in the hole $42,159 at the end of September, according to a disclosure statement filed by the committee on December 19. The account was set up last year to fend off a libel suit brought against Cole by fellow Democrat Dwayne Crenshaw, who alleged he had been defamed in a drug-related hit piece against him dispatched by Cole during their 2013 electoral joust. Judge Richard Strauss threw the case out in July. “Minor inaccuracies do not amount to falsity so long as ‘the substance, the gist, the sting of the libelous charge can be justified,” ruled Strauss. “While the mailer may not precisely describe the events of that night, the statements therein are not provably false.”
In a July 31 filing covering the second quarter of 2014, Cole’s defense committee reported that it owed $24,878.26 to San Diego’s Lawton Law Firm. Donors included anti–Barrio Logan plan lobbyists Al Ziegaus and his son-in-law Chris Wahl, who each gave $500. The latest filing, covering the period from July 1 through September 30 of last year, says the fund raised $10,150: it paid Lawton $6250 and owed the firm $41,379. Contributors included Los Angeles commercial broker Saman Kangavari, Van Nuys real estate man Avi Sinay, and Ramin Shillian of Tarzana, listed as an officer of H & R Investment Group. Each chipped in $550. Carlsbad attorney Linda Loftin gave $250.
According to an online profile, “The Loftin Firm represents a broad range of clients with a diverse array of real estate, land use and planning matters. Our clients range from private real estate developers and land owners (both small family developers and large institutional development companies) to public municipalities.”