Friday, October 27, 2006

Witness Confirms Bilbray Grand Jury

According to the North County Times, a witness who testified before a San Diego grand jury investigation of perjury and voter fraud allegations directed at Representative Brian Bilbray (CA-50) has stepped forward and discussed his appearance before the panel.

Carlsbad resident, William Rider, lives near the address Bilbray claimed as his residence just prior to jumping into the CA-50 race when convicted Republican felon Randy "Duke" Cunningham's bribery and extortion scams became public knowledge.

Rider showed reporters court documents and discussed his nearly 90 minutes of testimony before the grand jury on August 29.

Bilbray filed documents claiming that his mother's home in Carlsbad was his primary residence and that he was living there to assist her. However, during the special election campaign to replace Cunningham, Bilbray's assertion that he lived a the address was questioned and at that time a number of resident of the neighborhood told reports that they seldom, if ever saw Bilbray at his mother's residence.

According to Rider, the purpose of the criminal grand jury was to determine if somebody who claimed to live in his neighborhood actually lived there.

He said that on the day he appeared, he was taken into a room at the county courthouse on Broadway and answered questions from [Patrick] O'Toole [special operations division attorney] and others from jurors. Rider said the questioning lasted about an hour and a half. He said that after first admonishing him not to discuss the proceedings outside of the courtroom and telling him that he was not the focus of the investigation, O'Toole said the jury was trying to determine whether somebody in his neighborhood in fact lived there.

O'Toole then proceeded to ask him a series of questions, like:"Did he know where Bilbray's mother lived? If he could see the mother's home from his house? How often he drove by Bilbray's house? If he had ever seen Bilbray helping his mother out of the house."

Rider said that O'Toole asked if he had ever seen Bilbray at the house."I believe I told him I had seen him there once or twice and that was eight or nine years ago," Rider said.

Bilbray claims that all this is driven by politics. Duhh. Bilbray's claim to live in Carlsbad was driven by politics. He could have run for Cunningham's seat, while claiming his Imperial Beach home as his California residence, which he does for tax purposes. That would have been perfectly legal, but it might not have gone down well in the district.

So, Bilbray chose to claim residence in the district, for the sake of political appearance. Now his lie has been exposed and it is indeed all about politics. And, if all politics is local, then it has become clear that Bilbray isn't a local as far as the 50th district is concerned.

Update: The San Diego Union Tribune picked up this story in the afternoon and included it in its on line edition. Now maybe some of the big time journalists who have been sitting on this story will begin to fill in more of the details.

Update: Coincidently, the Union Tribune has a feature story about Bilbray whistle-blower William Rider, a Vietnam veteran, who now works with Marines returning from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan to help them through the symptoms of post-traumatic stress.