The Commission on Judicial Performance has initiated disciplinary proceedings against a recently retired El Dorado County judge who is now seeking the GOP nomination for state attorney general.
Steven Bailey faces 11 counts of ethical wrongdoing dating to his time on the bench, including placing defendants in a private-sector alcohol monitoring program without disclosing that the provider employs his son, according to the judicial watchdog agency.
The commission has launched formal proceedings, a process usually reserved for the most serious charges against judicial officers. Because Bailey retired in August 2017 after more than eight years on the bench, he cannot be removed from office. Commissioners can, however, issue a public or private reprimand or bar him from ever holding judicial office again.
Bailey campaign spokesman Corey Uhden did not address the specific allegations but said in an email that “there is no judicial misconduct for the commission to find.”
“It’s simply an attempt to disparage a respected former judge and a highly qualified candidate for attorney general,” Uhden said. “These proceedings will conclude that this is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.”
Bailey’s attorney, James Murphy of Murphy Pearson Bradley & Feeney, referred questions to the candidate’s campaign office.
Bailey of South Lake Tahoe is one of two leading Republicans running for attorney general in the June primary. He faces an uphill battle in solidly blue California, where all of the major state offices are held by Democrats.
Bailey’s campaign raised $211,000 last year and ended 2017 with $26,629 in cash on hand. The current officeholder, Democrat Xavier Becerra, by comparison, raised more than $4 million and had $3.1 million in his campaign account at the end of December.
Other complaints against Murphy include improperly endorsing a polling business; appointing a friend as a special master without disclosing the relationship; accepting event tickets as gifts outside of ethical guidelines; failing to timely disclose covered payments for lodging, meals and honoraria at a judicial conference; and using his judicial title to fundraise and campaign for attorney general.
Bailey’s response to the commission’s allegations is due by March 7.
The commission on judicial performance notice is posted below: