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Judge Rules Against Assessor Candidate Prang Over Ballot Designation Title

By Brian Hews

Los Angeles Superior Court judge James C. Chalfant ruled on Friday that a candidate running for county assessor cannot refer himself as a “deputy assessor” on the upcoming June 5th California Primary Election ballot.

Chalfant ruled that candidate Jeffrey Prang can instead be listed as “Special Assistant, Assessor.”

Prang has worked in the Assessor’s office as a top assistant to indicted Assessor John Noguez for the past 18 months.  Prang has also been employed in the Assessor’s office in the past working as an assistant to former Assessor’s Kenneth P. Hahn, and Rick Auerbach.

Prang appeared in the courtroom on Friday along with candidate Omar Haroon who filed the suit against the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters office including Recorder Dean Logan, as well as the Prang’s campaign committee.

After the ruling Haroon told Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper in an interview that “I’m very pleased the judge agreed with me. I’m a real estate professional. Jeff is a professional politician.”

 Haroon has served as a deputy county assessor since 2011 and is one of a dozen candidates looking to replace current Assessor John Noguez who is facing two dozen felony counts of accepting bribes in exchange for lowering the assessed values on multimillion dollar properties on behalf of campaign donors.

“Prang was hired by Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez, who has been indicted on criminal charges, to serve as ‘Special Assistant to the Assessor.’ This job title limits him to conducting investigations and performing staff or public relations assignments for the executive office of the assessor,” Haroon said.

“That is why when the scandal involving Noguez broke, Prang was out there doing some damage control for his boss as part of his public relations duties,” Haroon said. “Prang was trying to obscure the fact that he was appointed by Noguez and they’ve had a 20-year long relationship.”

Ross Bates, who is a campaign strategist for Prang, disagreed with the ruling.

“While we disagree with the judge’s ruling it’s important to note that he did not support Mr. Haroon’s assertion on the ‘appraisal issue’ regarding the question of whether only an appraiser can be a deputy assessor,” Bates told HMG-CN in a phone interview.

“The judge and the Registrar Recorder said there was no attempt to deceive.  If it’s just going to be Special Assistant, Assessor we can live with that,” Bates said.

“We disagree with the judge’s ruling but it’s not a deal breaker for us and I think it’s important to mention that what he did not agree with, what the judge did not support, was Mr. Haroon’s  intention that Jeff was somewhat unqualified for the job of assessor since there was nothing in the report about that (listed),” Bates said.

Joining Haroon in court were fellow candidates John “Lower Taxes” Loew, Nestor Valencia and Krish Kumar.

Loew, who is a licensed Appraiser with the Assessor’s office for more than two decades blasted Prang after the ruling. “

Also weighing in on the decision was John Morris, who is a Deputy District Attorney, and who is also running for Assessor.

“Mr. Prang was hired by John Noguez to do Noguez’s dirty work.  Prang is on record of defending John Noguez’s actions in the past. I agree with the judges decision,” Morris said.