Klein defends attack on Ramirez, college | TheUnion.com

Klein defends attack on Ramirez, college

Embattled Sierra College Trustee Aaron Klein this weekend defended his political attack against deposed president Kevin Ramirez and the school’s foundation in an e-mail to friends.

Klein was blasted by the Placer County grand jury last week for not doing his homework before leveling allegations that Ramirez and the foundation laundered and used more than $100,000 to get a bond issue passed in 2004. The grand jury concluded innocent filing mistakes were made with the money that did not fulfill public disclosure laws, but they were “relatively minor and easily correctible…The charges are utterly without merit.”

It was the grand jury’s statement about the inability to fully disclose that Klein seized on in the e-mail and in a fax sent to The Union last week.

“The good news is that the grand jury, confirmed by assertion that ‘public disclosure laws were not obeyed,'” the Nevada County college board member wrote to “Friends and Supporters,” in the e-mail. “The bad news is that the grand jury, changed with investigating violations of the law by governmental agencies, has instead decided to editorialize that I should have worked internally to quietly solve this problem, instead of blowing the whistle on the admitted illegal activities.”

Klein did not return several phone calls to The Union in recent days. He faxed The Union, The Sacramento Bee and the Auburn Journal Friday with his response to the grand jury, which did not come close to the panel’s demand for an apology.

Instead, Klein said he expects the state Fair Political Practices Committee to agree with him that failing to properly disclose the foundation donations used for the bond campaign was anything but minor.

Speaking about the grand jury in the e-mail to friends, Klein said, “I wish the they had taken their role as seriously as I took my fiduciary responsibility to the citizens and taxpayers of the Sierra Joint Community College District.”

Klein was vilified repeatedly in a report issued by the grand jury last week. The report said Klein did not fully investigate the allegations made during his successful, 2004 run for the board in which he beat out Dave Parker of Nevada City.

“The facts speak in total opposition to the complaint,” and do not implicate Ramirez in any wrongs, the grand jury said. “The charges are unfounded, misleading and full of unsubstantiated allegation.”

Klein said in October 2004 during the college bond and board race that Ramirez should step down over his allegations. Ramirez eventually did that in January after 12 years on the job with a $225,000 severance settlement and no comment to the press.

But last week, Ramirez said he felt vindicated by the grand jury report.

“It was very painful while it as going on,” Ramirez said. “They were mostly wonderful years and I’ve moved on with my life…I forgive Aaron, I did a long time ago.”

Ramirez said he plans no legal action against Klein and is enjoying a new life of consulting, raising his grandchild and golfing. An effort to recall Klein died on the vine shortly after Ramirez’s resignation.

To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

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