Former President of National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Accused of Racketeering

The president of an organization committed to diversity and leadership pipelines in the legal profession has been accused of racketeering.

A civil RICO action filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia alleges that Ruthe Catolico Ashley, president of Rocklin-based Diversity Matters, engaged in predicate acts of racketeering through and by means of money laundering, mail and bank fraud, as well as conversion of funds.

The suit, advanced by Marina Del Rey-based community activist Daniel Dydzak, seeks monetary and equitable remedies.

Ashley is the former Chief Diversity Officer for CalPERS and former Assistant Dean for Career and Professional Development at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. Prior positions include past president of Legal Services of Northern California, past chair of the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce , past president of the Asian Bar Association of Sacramento, and past president of The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

She is also is the former CEO of CaliforniaALL -- a now defunct controversial non-profit allegedly devoted to the building educational pipelines.


In 2007, Jeffrey Bleich of Munger Tolles & Olson launched and co-chaired the national finance committee of OBAMA FOR AMERICA. Other attorneys from law firms representing utility companies seeking to place Obama in office because they hoped he would support the Smart-Grid and clean energy initiatives followed suit , including James Brosnahan (self-proclaimed "mastermind behind the Democratic Party" ) Tony West (OBAMA FOR AMERICA's Chair of California Finance Committee) Chris Young ("OBAMA FOR AMERICA" Northern California Deputy Finance Director) Annette Carnegie (former director with the California Bar Foundation) Kamala Harris (Co-Chair, OBAMA FOR AMERICA ; member of CaliforniaALL) Steven Churchwell ( DLA Piper, Treasurer, draft committee of OBAMA FOR AMERICA )

Bleich -- while serving as member of the State Bar of California Board of Governors and as director of the California Bar Foundation (alongside another attorney from Munger Tolles, Bradley Phillips) -- was a man on a mission.

Also in 2007, Ruthe Catolico Ashley served as member of the State Bar of California Board of Governors alongside Jeffrey Bleich, and came up with the idea to create CaliforniaALL during a meeting with Sarah Redfield and Peter Arth, (the assistant to CPUC President Michael Peevey).

CaliforniaALL was conveniently housed free of charge at the offices of DLA Piper in Sacramento, alongside the draft committee of OBAMA FOR AMERICA, where Steve Churchwell of DLA Piper in Sacramento served as Treasurer of the draft committee of OBAMA FOR AMERICA.

Subsequent to the election of Barack Obama, CaliforniaALL was dissolved.

In its brief existence, CaliforniaALL collected close to $2 million from utility companies (AT&T, PG&E, Verizon, Sempra, Southern California Edison). Not surprisingly, the money from the utility companies did not go directly to CaliforniaALL. Rather, as mentioned in the California Bar Foundation 2008 Annual Report (See page 9 : ):

"In 2007-2008, the Foundation supported the launching of CaliforniaALL and, as the project filed for incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, served as CaliforniaALL's fiscal sponsor. A collaboration between the California Public Employment Retirement System, the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Department of Insurance, and the State Bar of California, CaliforniaALL was created in an effort to close the achievement gap among California students from preschool to the profession and, specifically, to bolster the pipeline of young people of diverse backgrounds headed for careers in law, financial services, and technology. Once CaliforniaALL obtained its tax-exempt status and was able to function as a fully independent nonprofit organization, the foundation granted the balance of funds raised for the project – totaling $769,247 – to the new entity."

Also cleverly buried in the California Bar Foundation's 2008 annual report was the following sentence :

"We thank the following corporations for their gifts in support of CaliforniaALL: AT & T, Edison International, PG & E Corporation Foundation, Verizon"

See page 24 :

As to Sarah Redfield -- the interim director of CaliforniaALL prior to the selection of Ashley -- events surrounding her appear to also be imbued with fraud and deceit, and it appears her role was to create a subterfuge to justify the existence of CaliforniaALL. Since CaliforniaALL’s main achievement was the purported creation of a “Saturday Academy of Law” at UC Irvine (“SALUCI”), Ms. Redfield pretended to have engaged in Requests for Proposals (“RFP”), as well as falsely claiming that she “launched” SALUCI. For her services as interim executive director and an alleged consultant of CaliforniaALL, Professor Redfield was paid approximately $160,000 as an “independent contractor.” She gave very little, if anything, in return for the $160,000 she was paid. In fact, she took credit for the extremely hard work of others, especially that of Rob Vacario of Santa Ana who co-founded SALUCI several years earlier.