UPDATE: I HAVE POSTED A FOLLOW-UP STORY HERE, ABOUT THE SPECIAL OC ANGLE OF THE STORY.
It must be tough when just about everything anybody says about you is prefaced with the words “disgraced former assemblyman.” But that’s what Mike Duvall lives with every day.
On Wednesday I had lunch with Duvall.
Now, I’ve known Mike for a long time and thought that it would be interesting to hear his take on the events of last summer that led to his resignation and replacement as our State Assemblyman by Chris Norby. And he seemed eager to tell his side of the story.
Duvall has lost a lot of weight and looks pretty good. He attributes this to getting exercise and is benefiting from being away from the non-stop Sacramento smorgasbord provided courtesy of all those lobbyists. Well, I guess every cloud has it’s silver lining.
We met at Mike’s office and later moseyed on out for lunch. As our meeting progressed, Duvall shared his thoughts about what happened last summer.
Duvall said that he had become well known in Sacramento for “rocking the boats” of other legislators, and that fact may have been at the root of the events that transpired. He was known, he said, for his unorthodox attitude to Sacramento, even upon one occasion, introducing some of his biker buddies into the Capitol.
Although he can not fully explain their motives, Duvall stated that he believe the likeliest scenario is that he was set up by a conspiracy involving Jeff Miller, the assemblyman from Corona, and his aide. He believes the whole thing was either orchestrated or exploited by Republican operative Jon Fleischman, likely in retaliation for the forced resignation of Fleischman’s wife, a former employee in Duvall’s local office. He claimed that Fleischman had become extremely hostile to him personally.
According to Duvall the “hot mike” on the day his comments were recorded was Miller’s, not his; that in retrospect Miller seemed to coach the conversation into its lewd direction; and that Millers aide almost immediately went to retrieve a copy of the recording. Duvall stuck to his story that his comments were not a true revelation of anything that actually happened, and in fact he was just repeating stuff told to him about another legislator altogether.
When I asked him what Jeff Miller’s motive was to cooperate in the alleged set-up, Duvall speculated that it might have been done, at least in part to take heat off of him from the KFI John and Ken team who had been mercilessly attacking Miller, and who subsequently appeared to have stopped their attacks.
What still remains a mystery, except to the participants, and not explained by Duvall, are the events that transpired between July 2009, when the recording was made, and late August, 2009 when the story finally broke. Almost two months passed.
I have previously wondered about the on the role of Ackerman, Inc. in events of July-September 2009, since on September 10th Linda Ackerman received and responded to an almost immediate communication from the Register’s Martin Wisckol about her possible candidacy – while she was vacationing in Europe. It struck me as very odd that Linda Ackerman’s name would suddenly occur to Wisckol out of the blue without previous coaching. Duvall couldn’t shed any light on that.
But when I asked Duvall if he thought his support for the OC County Fair last summer might have played a role in the motive of someone trying to get rid of him, he acknowledged the possibility.
Is Duvall telling the whole story? Was he really set up, or was it simply the case that his unfortunate comments, true or not, were exploited by political enemies after the fact? The passage of the two month period and then the sudden revelation has all the earmarks of an orchestrated attempt to get rid of him.
The story about a conspiracy to set him up certainly sounds plausible. But without any real evidence to support his claims, Mike Duvall is going to have a hard time convincing a skeptics of his innocence.