Blog posts re Gary Kreep (from Role Model Lawyers blog)
A master of political hits and campaign shell games prepares to take a seat on the
Superior Court bench
By Dave Maass
San Diego City Beat
Illustration by Adam Vieyra
Nov 14, 2012
The first meetings of the city of San Diego's Human Relations Commission were
disrupted by a breakdown in relations among humans.
It was the early 1990s and the City Council had voted to create the 15-member HRC
to promote cultural sensitivity and investigate discrimination complaints. But,
according to a press report from the time, the sessions descended into a chaos of
"shouting matches and name calling" between gay-rights activists and Christian
At the center of the conflict was one particular human: Gary G. Kreep, Esq.
Kreep was an unapologetically Christian, anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-illegal-
immigrant, anti-affirmative-action lawyer from Escondido. His detractors—which
included a majority of his fellow commissioners—believed he'd been inappropriately
appointed by a City Council member who'd opposed the commission's creation from
"The Human Relations Commission was to bring all people together, all walks of life,"
says Norma Rossi, the former head of the San Diego Homeless Coalition, who
served with Kreep. The lawyer, she says, "was trying to create a ruckus."
Twenty years later, Kreep is poised to spark a ruckus all over again. Last February,
encouraged by political operative and longtime friend Jim Sills, Kreep filed paperwork
to run for judge of the Superior Court of San Diego County. In the June primary
election, he took the legal community by surprise when he eked out a victory over a
veteran prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Garland Peed. The margin was two-
fifths of 1 percent.
"Mr. Kreep seems to be a person who has an agenda," attorney Len Simon says.
"Judges should not have an agenda; they should decide cases based on law and the
facts. Judges with an agenda can be an embarrassment to the court."
In 1979, Kreep founded the United States Justice Foundation to serve as the right
wing's answer to the American Civil Liberties Union. Through the nonprofit, he's
inserted himself into some of the greatest political and constitutional controversies in
American history. The group, which rents office space in a building that Kreep owns
in Ramona, has represented the gamut of right-wing clients, from defending
members of the nativist Minutemen Civil Defense Force to writing briefs in support of
Texas' sodomy laws for the Pro-Family Law Center. He petitioned the U.S. Senate in
1989 to reopen its investigation of the so-called "Chappaquiddick incident," in which
Sen. Ted Kennedy had been involved in a fatal car accident. In 2005, he launched
the Hillary Clinton Accountability Project and filed a lawsuit against Clinton, alleging
campaign-finance fraud. In recent years, Kreep has gained notoriety for mounting
legal challenges to President Barack Obama's eligibility for the presidency, claiming
he was born in Kenya. The press has dubbed it the "Birther" movement due to Kreep
and his followers' fixation on Obama's birth certificate. Through an assortment of
political committees, Kreep has also supported the election of Republicans, including
U.S. Rep. Allen West, Herman Cain and Gov. Sarah Palin.
Throughout the 2012 election cycle, Kreep has walked a thin line in terms of
permissible political activity for judicial candidates, as proscribed by the California
Code of Judicial Ethics. Kreep and his Tea Party colleagues have also exploited
loopholes in federal and state campaign-finance regulations to escape filing
deadlines and disclosure requirements.
Whether he's crossed the line is for the reader to judge.
History repeats. Kreep has been here before.
"Gary knew what he was going to face," former San Diego City Councilmember Bruce
Henderson says. "He had the courage to walk into that environment knowing he
would be vilified and knowing all these things would be focused on digging into his
background to find anything negative about him, and he was willing to step up."
The sentiment would aptly describe Kreep's judgeship, but Henderson's remarking
on 1991, when Sills, Henderson's top aide, identified Kreep as a potential candidate
for the Human Relations Commission. Henderson was against the commission, which
he believed would seek out and punish Christians who opposed homosexuality.
Though he never sat down with Kreep to discuss the breadth of his beliefs,
Henderson found Kreep shared his opposition to affirmative action.
"Gary tended to agree with me on those sorts of issues," Henderson says. "I wanted
a voice on the Human Relations Commission that spoke up to say all discrimination is
wrong; certainly, reverse discrimination is just as wrong as any other."
Gay-rights activists, the Anti-Defamation League and Kreep's fellow commissioners
saw Kreep as a negative force who'd been appointed under false pretenses.
According to a 1991 San Diego Union-Tribune article, Kreep had omitted his
relationship with the United States Justice Foundation from his application materials.
Had it been disclosed, his critics didn't believe the council would've signed off.
"He didn't believe in the Human Relations Commission's establishment or goals,"
says Katie Klumpp, a lifelong anti-racism activist who served with Kreep. "If he had
been in a position to vote for or against having such a commission, he wouldíve
voted against it. That created a kind of awkwardness when all the rest of the
commissioners had a commitment to what was trying to be established."
The commission tried to boot Kreep by passing a resolution that urged the City
Council to reconsider all of its members' qualifications. Meeting minutes show that
the proposal brought out more than 80 observers. During public comment, eight
people spoke against Kreep, eight people spoke in favor of him and three people
pleaded with everyone to put the matter aside and "get on with the Commissionís
business." The vote passed 10-4, with one member absent, but Mayor Maureen
O'Connor declined to add it to the council's docket.
As the commission moved forward, Kreep consistently voted against LGBT and pro-
immigrant measures and ardently defended the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay
policies. He also demanded on several occasions that the commission investigate
"Satanic crimes" as hate crimes. After the City Attorney's office issued an opinion
that Satanism was outside of the commission's purview, Kreep changed his focus to
"anti-Christian bias." At one hearing, he requested that the commission bring in
10News journalist Marti Emerald, now a City Council member, to discuss remarks she
made about Christians on TV.
Kreep became a symbol of intolerance, according to the Los Angeles Times, when
San Diego County Supervisor Susan Golding referenced the Kreep controversy in
her mayoral campaign materials, saying, "We cannot allow... discrimination in hiring,
hate crimes in our neighborhoods, bigots appointed to city commissions... or other
But, Kreep was no racist and actively brought the commission's attention to Tom
Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance. Kreep says he had to kick Metzger's
followers out of one of his conservative groups.
"I found Mr. Metzger's views to be abhorrent," Kreep tells CityBeat via email.
"Although he has a constitutional right to his views, and to espouse them, anyone
who promotes a political ideology based on racism and/or anti-Semitism is, to my
Kreep paints himself as a victim, saying he received death threats and that the city
assigned six police officers to protect him at HRC meetings. He also claims that,
during the meetings, he was "bombarded with used condoms and pus and blood
soaked cotton balls" flung by his opponents.
Witnesses find his accusations outrageous.
"If this was true, it would've been on every TV station," says Nicole Murray-Ramirez, a
gay activist who spoke against Kreep during public comment in 1992 and later
served as HRC chairperson from 2006 to 2011. "That's impossible. If that incident
happened, I would know and I would've condemned it... That didn't happen. He's
"Nobody threw any junk like that at him," says Duane Shinnick, a former deputy
district attorney whoíd been appointed to the commission by Mayor O'Connor.
"He's full of shit," Rossi says. "Excuse my French; I'm almost 83. Nobody ever threw
condoms or bloody cotton balls at him. Not even one. He may have felt we wanted to
choke him a time or two, but we wouldn't have done something that drastic."
"Horseshit," Klumpp says. "What nonsense. That is insanity... But I have no doubt he
has convinced himself that it happened."
Even though two decades have passed, members have vivid memories of Kreep's
absolute certainty, perhaps even arrogance, that his principles and worldviews were
"It's shocking to think he's going to be in a position to judge anyone about anything,"
Although Kreep was an economics major at UCSD (or "Tinker Toy Tech," as he once
called it) in the 1960s and early 1970s, he enrolled in Black Studies courses as way
to study the enemy—leftist, antiwar activists—he explained in a 2001 interview.
"I was very active in politics in college; those were the days of radicalism—Kent
State, Vietnam, the Cambodian incursion," Kreep told Lifeline, the newsletter of the
anti-abortion Life Legal Defense Foundation. "We had student strikes led by the left
for three years in a row, and the fourth year we managed to take it over and stop it,
because we learned from the left their tactics and turned their tactics against them."
His preoccupation with politics hurt his grades, he said, but it also connected him with
Sills and a crew of other young conservatives.
"We learned from the left that every time there is a new issue, you set up a new front
group with a new name; most people were not smart enough to realize that it was all
the same people," Kreep said in the Lifeline interview. "We called ourselves by a
variety of names at different times."
Kreep played the public for dumb all the way through the 2012 election cycle. He's
founded innumerable groups over the years; in addition to serving as executive
director of the USJF, Kreep served as chairman of three political-action committees:
Beat Obama PAC (formerly known as Draft Herman Cain), Justice PAC and the
Republican Majority Campaign (RMCPAC). He also serves as vice chairman of the
Western Conservative Political Action Conference and acts as a consultant for a
These groups are controlled by a closed circle of conservative activists and
campaign profiteers, including well-known names in Southern California political
circles: Randy Goodwin, Jim Lacy, Barrett Garcia and Sills, who died in June. Two
more—Charles and Nancy Benninghoff—are ex-convicts involved in financial and tax-
fraud schemes in the late 1990s.
Over the years, these players have developed a sophisticated money-moving
system, in which anonymous donations are raised in bulk, then redistributed through
a complex network of political groups and nonprofits. In the process, hundreds of
thousands of dollars end up in their pockets through payments for campaign
Kreep's decision to run for judge complicated his role in the political operation. The
California Code of Judicial Ethics prohibits judicial candidates from acting as leaders
or holding "any position" with a political organization that campaigns for candidates in
In an email, Kreep says that he stepped down from all the political organizations
when he filed his intention to run for office on Feb. 13, 2012. Behind the scenes, his
resignation amounted to little more than a changing of titles as Kreep continued to
advise the organizations as paid counsel and as a consultant.
Disclosures filed with the Federal Elections Commission show that, between
February and October, RMCPAC paid Kreep $37,659 for legal services and $2,926
for travel and meeting expenses. The committee also paid $6,650, or $950 per
month, to rent space in Kreep's office in Ramona, even though the committee is
formally based in Santa Ana. Meanwhile, Beat Obama PAC paid Kreep $1,000 for
legal services, and a state-level organization, the California Public Safety Voter
Guide, paid Kreep $12,500 for consulting work during the summer.
Shifting funds from committee to committee has allowed Kreep's confederates to
circumvent reporting deadlines and disclosure thresholds, obscuring the identity of
Kreep's judicial-campaign donors.
In 2012, RMCPAC raised $2.8 million—98 percent of its treasury—in anonymous,
"unitemized" contributions. That means at least 14,040 donors chipped in small
contributions that did not old for disclosing their names. Beat Obama / Draft Herman
Cain similarly raised $26,458 in anonymous donations.
California laws require names to be disclosed for donations over $100. Although
these PACs fundraise for federal candidates, thousands of dollars were donated to
In April—while Kreep was on the payroll—RMCPAC donated $999 to Gary Kreep for
Judge. On the same day, RMCPAC transferred $999 to Justice PAC, which, also on
the same day, donated $999 to Kreep's campaign. The amount is significant
because it's $1 short of the California Political Reform Act's reporting threshold for
late contributions. In August, two months after the election, Beat Obama donated
another $999 to Kreep's campaign.
Kreep took the money and funneled it back to his colleagues through five Lacy-
operated slate-mail organizations—groups that collect money to send out mass-
mailers endorsing a list of candidates. Following the tactic Kreep learned in college,
these groups operate under a variety of names: Woman's Voice, National Tax
Limitation Newsletter, Save Proposition 13, the Small Business Action Committee
Newsletter and the California Public Safety Voter Guide. That last one paid Kreep
$12,500 for his consulting services.
Another committee controlled by Lacy, Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods, made
robocalls using misleading information about plea deals to attack Kreep's opponent,
Garland Peed. Kreep could not have directly arranged the robocalls because the
Code of Judicial Ethics prohibits candidates from misrepresenting an opponent's
record. While common, robocalls that are not introduced by a real person are also
illegal in California.
While Kreep is barred from partisan campaign work, the Code of Judicial Ethics
hasn't kept him completely out of the game. He's used the USJF, a tax-exempt
nonprofit, to oppose Obama's reelection through litigation over his birth certificate.
Technically, the lawsuits aren't campaigning, but Kreep's intent is clear enough.
"Remember, all that we need to do is win one eligibility battle, in one state, and
Barack Obama's 'reelection' campaign will start to unravel," Kreep wrote in an August
fundraising email for USJF. "Any one of these new legal challenges could end Barack
Hussein Obama's occupation of the White House."
see page 2 City Beat article
|San Diego Education Report
Bar Association Responds to Gary Kreep’s Threatened
June 27, 2012
By Katie Euphrat, Joanne Faryon
Above: Gary Kreep is the newly elected San Diego Superior Court Judge who has
serious doubts about the citizenship of President Barack Obama. About a month
before the Primary election, the San Diego County Bar Association issued a press
release which said Gary Kreep was not qualified to be a judge. Kreep responded by
calling the SD County Bar Association "bigoted." Now the President of the bar
association tells KPBS' "Evening Edition" that their rating was "fair and unbiased."
SAN DIEGO — Newly elected San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep narrowly
defeated county prosecutor Garland Peed in the Primary election on June 5, 2012.
Since then, he has caught national attention for his belief that President Barack
Obama's birth certificate is fake.
About a month before the primary election, the San Diego County Bar Association
issued a press release which said Gary Kreep was not qualified to be a judge.
During an interview on KPBS Evening Edition on June 20, 2012, Kreep responded to
this press release by calling the San Diego County Bar Association "bigoted."
Kreep said his role as a national leader of the "birther" movement is not relevant to his
appointment as judge, but that his stance on other issues led the association to state
he is "lacking qualifications" to be a judge.
"They did it on the basis that you can't be pro-life and you can't oppose same-sex
marriage and be a judge, that's what they told me," Kreep said. "That's a religiously
bigoted statement, which will be further investigated by me, and I'm going to move
forward on that because that is discrimination."
Kreep said he was going to take action against the bar association.
President of the San Diego County Bar Association Marvin Mizell told KPBS' Evening
Edition that they were "fair and unbiased" when ranking Gary Kreep as "without
Enlarge this image
Above: President of the San Diego County Bar Association Marvin Mizell told KPBS'
Evening Edition that they were "fair and unbiased" when ranking Gary Kreep as
President of the San Diego County Bar Association, Marvin Mizell, came on KPBS'
"Evening Edition" on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, to respond to Kreep's threatened
"I have not received any information from my committee that would make me think
there's something that would be the basis of a claim," Mizell said. "We do believe that
this process was fair and unbiased."
Mizell said the SD County Bar Association has not heard directly from Kreep since he
"Since 1978, some 34 years, the County Bar has fairly and accurately evaluated
candidates for contested judicial elections," Mizell said. "The first thing to remember is
that the candidates are not judged against each other in the same race. They're
actually looked at individually by the committee."
The rating committee is made up of 21 people who Mizell said makes up a "fair cross-
section of the legal community."
"You have civil and criminal practitioners, you have government and non-government
attorneys, as well as a fair cross-section of how long they've been practicing," he said.
The committee takes 19 factors into account when rating judges, some of which
include temperament, intellect, ability and knowledge of the law.
"Political belief or religious belief are not included," Mizell said. "We have never
evaluated someone based on political or religious belief, and that did not happen
The reasons behind Kreep's "lacking qualifications" rating are kept confidential from
the public. The judges, however, do get to see the reasons behind their rating, and
anyone who receives a "lacking qualifications" rating has a right to appeal.
Mizell said that Kreep did appeal his rating in front of the entire committee.
Of the seven candidates that the SD County Bar Association reviewed, two of them
received the rating of "lacking qualifications." Mizell said that in recent history, no
judge receiving a "lacking qualifications" rating has been elected, until now.
Mizell said the San Diego County Bar Association tries to get the word out about the
ratings in order to educate voters. You can see the ratings of judges on their website
and Facebook page.
"That's why we do what we do," Mizell said. "To try to educate the public because
there's usually very little information on judicial candidates."
Judge Gary Kreep, San Diego Superior Court
Judge Kreep gets state ethics warning
Letter from political commission ends complaint against judge
By Greg Moran
Oct. 29, 2013
The California Fair Political Practices Commission has issued a formal warning to
San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep, closing an ethics complaint that was
filed against him over campaign funding issues.
In a two-page letter, the agency said Kreep did not properly disclose the source of
income he received from a slate mailer group on an economic disclosure form he
filled out when he assumed office. He also did not properly disclose payments
made to several slate mailers.
The letter also said that Kreep filed amended forms with the correct disclosures
after being contacted by the state. The agency had received a complaint detailing
the alleged violations from a group of 16 people, including lawyers, who had
supported liberal candidates and causes in the past.
Kreep gained notoriety as a “birther” advocate who challenged President Obama’s
citizenship. He also has a long track record of advocating on behalf of
conservative causes including opposition to same-sex marriage.
The warning letter resolves a complaint without a fine or further prosecution.
Birther' judge Gary Kreep
banished to traffic court
'Birther' judge banished to traffic court
Leader in questioning Obama's citizenship
By Greg Moran
Oct. 11, 2013
San Diego Judge Gary Kreep, a conservative legal activist who led a failed fight to
challenge President Obama’s citizenship, has been exiled to traffic court after
several Superior Court rulings favoring defendants’ constitutional rights.
Kreep, 63, was reassigned on Sept. 9 from the downtown San Diego courthouse to
a Kearny Mesa facility that handles traffic offenses and small claims.
The move came after prosecutors from the City Attorney’s Office began to boycott
his courtroom over his legal approach.
For instance, Kreep often declined to take away a defendant’s 4th
Amendment rights against search and seizure — something prosecutors
can legally request at various points during the criminal process.
No official reason was given for Kreep’s reassignment. Presiding Judge Robert
Trentacosta said through a spokeswoman that the court doesn’t comment on judicial