Mod: H. Susan Henderson, the occasionally controversial editor and publisher of the weekly Mountain Views News, is an individual with a decidedly checkered past. As you might or might not know, at one point Susan was the #2 official in the California Democratic Party, a position she lost in quite spectacular fashion. Just below is an article titled "Demo Leader Resigns Under Fire" that appeared in The San Francisco Examiner (link) on May 25, 1995. The author is Lance Williams (link), a great journalist who has twice won the prestigious George Polk Award for his reporting. After you've taken a little time to process this information, ask yourself a question. Is Susan really the sort of ethically nuanced individual that should be sponsoring official Sierra Madre events? Faked educational credentials and all?
Demo leader resigns under fire - H. Susan Henderson, onetime Republican turned executive director of the California Democratic Party, has resigned her $78,000-per-year post amid controversy over alleged resume-pumping and questionable expenditures on a party credit card.
State party chair Bill Press announced Henderson's departure Wednesday, the same day The Examiner reported that she had registered to vote as a Republican barely two years before taking the $78,000-per-year Democratic Party post.
The Examiner also reported that the University of California had no record of awarding Henderson a law degree and an MBA, as she had claimed on her resume, and that a Sunnyvale business executive said Henderson had failed to repay a $2,000 loan.
A confidential news source said that California Democrats, who face the crucial 1996 election with a deficit of $1 million, would pay Henderson $25,000 in exchange for her resignation.
In a press release, Press said he had ordered an audit of the state party's books, after receiving an anonymous letter contending that Henderson had improperly run up some $3,000 in spending on a party credit card for items including lingerie and a trip to Disneyland.
Press said the audit found no wrongdoing, but said the matter had become so emotionally draining for Henderson that she decided to resign. He said she would work as a consultant for the party for an unspecified period.
Henderson did not return phone calls. Press declined to respond to questions about whether he had known about Henderson's life as a Republican when he hired her or what steps he had taken to verify her resume. He also refused to comment on the reported $25,000 payment.
If Press was mum, state Republicans were chatty about what they saw as financial disarray at the top of the Democratic organization.
"My take would be that Bill Clinton and Bill Press attended the same school of financial management," quipped Victoria Herrington, spokeswoman for the state GOP. Referring to Henderson, she said, "This is one case where we Republicans don't mind a defection."
San Francisco Supervisor Angela Alioto, a vice chair of the Democratic Party, said she was shocked to learn that Henderson had so recently been a member of the GOP.
"She never mentioned that - she has posed as a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat," Alioto said. "To me, it's much more shocking to find out that she was a Republican than to find out (about the disputed resume.)"
Henderson, a former Oakland business executive, was hired by Press in 1993 as a deputy executive director for Southern California, then was promoted to the top job last year.
She presented an impressive resume: regional coordinator for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, East Bay field director for Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's successful 1992 campaign, former president of the East Bay Area Club of Negro Business and Professional Women.
|Susan's current "Linked In" page also lists UC Berkeley twice (link).|
But other parts of the resume don't appear to check out.
Henderson states that she holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Ohio State University, but a spokeswoman said Ohio State had never granted a degree to Harriet Susan Henderson or Harriet Poole, Henderson's maiden name.
Henderson's resume also says that she holds an "M.B.A. / J.D." from the University of California, without specifying a campus.
Spokesmen at UC-Berkeley, UCLA and UC-Davis, the three UC campuses that have both law and business schools, said no such degrees had been issued to H. Susan Henderson or Harriet Poole.
Alameda County voter records show that in 1989, Henderson registered as a Republican at an Oakland residence, then registered again as a Republican in 1991 when she moved to another Oakland address.
In March 1992, when the Boxer campaign was getting under way, Henderson changed her registration to Democrat, the records show.
As party executive director, Henderson sat in on top-level strategy meetings and sensitive discussions about the Democrats' plans for winning California for President Clinton in 1996.
In his written statement, Press complained that the anonymous letter about Henderson was "disgusting character assassination," but gave no details about why he had concluded that she had spent party funds properly.
Party credit-card records show that in a three-month period in 1995 she ran up $12,000 in charges, including $74 at a Victoria's Secret lingerie shop in Washington, D.C., $220 at a golf course in Palm Springs, $137 at a Los Angeles beauty-supply outlet and $26 at a laundry.
Mod: There is another Lance Williams report on this matter. What follows is a portion from an Examiner article called "State Demo chief's resume disputed" (link).
Spokeswoman Ann Charles said Henderson was not a member of the State Bar. The resume also said that Henderson had been "honored by Who's Who Among American Women" in 1984. An editor with Marquis' "Who's Who of American Women" directory said neither H. Susan Henderson nor Harriet Poole had ever been mentioned in their publication. The editor, Paul Kenney, said he had never heard of a book called Who's Who Among American Women.
The resume does not list Henderson's political views, although some Boxer campaign workers and state party officials said they assumed she was a longtime Democrat.
But voter records show that in 1989, Henderson registered as a Republican at an Oakland residence, then registered again as a Republican in 1991 when she moved to another Oakland address. In March 1992, when the Boxer campaign was getting under way, Henderson changed her registration to Democrat, the records show.
The resume also portrays Henderson as a successful business executive who in 1990 started up a profitable Oakland pool-cover manufacturing business, and then sold it two years later.
But that's not the whole story, said Anthony Raiola of Sunnyvale's Bay Area Spa Brokers. Raiola said that for years he bought covers from another Oakland spa-cover firm where Henderson worked as controller.
He said that in 1990 Henderson told him she was going to buy her company out, but needed a $2,500 loan that she promised to repay in one week.
"I said, "Susan, I don't really have the money,' " Raiola recalled, but he ultimately made the loan.
Loan never repaid
He said Henderson paid him $500, then blew off the rest of the debt. Raiola said he obtained a $2,000 judgment against her in Sunnyvale Small Claims Court, but has never been paid.
"I gotta calm down, because my blood is beginning to boil, just thinking about it," Raiola said.
Henderson's problems began in April, when state party leaders received anonymous letters contending that Henderson's resume could not be confirmed and charging that she had made inappropriate expenditures on a party credit card.
Attached to the letters were copies of a MasterCard statement showing that Henderson had run up expenses of $79 at Victoria's Secret, $230 at Disneyland and $139 at a Liz Claiborne shop in Napa.