EDITORIAL - Individual elected officials are exercising their right to free speech when they cast their votes — even if those votes might be the result of corruption or based in a conflict of interest, the California Supreme Court has decided. The opinion, handed down Monday, includes an in-depth analysis of the State’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law. The law is designed to end lawsuits that chill the right to speak on issues of public concern.
The opinion in City of Montebello v Vasquez stems from an allegedly tainted waste disposal contract for the City of Montebello. Amid allegations of votes purchased with campaign contributions, recall elections and a referral to the District Attorney, a private citizen sued the City to invalidate the contract under Government Code section 1090, asserting it was the product of bribery — campaign contributions offered and then delivered.