A civil rights group, the Global Frontier Justice Center (GFJC), has sent a letter to California Attorney General Kamala Harris, warning her of the long-term violation of California state law by a California State University, Northridge (CSUN) professor.
In the letter, the GFJC says that CSUN Professor David Klein used a CSUN-hosted website to promote his own personal political activities centered on spreading hate against Israel (the “CSUN Boycott Page”).
Klein is a professor of mathematics at CSUN, but no part of the CSUN Boycott Page has any connection to mathematics or Klein’s other published professional interests, GFJC notes.
The letter accuses Klein of using state owned property to disseminate his own hate-filled views about the Jewish State. The letter was signed by GFJC director, attorney Kenneth Leitner.
According to the GFJC, California law is clear in its definition of what constitutes inappropriate personal use of public resources. The California Government Code § 8314 provides that “[i]t is unlawful for any […] [state] employee … to use or permit others to use public resources for a campaign activity, or personal or other purposes which are not authorized by law.”
The letter to Attorney General Harris advises that violators of Section 8314 are subject to a civil penalty of three times the value of the public resources that were improperly used, plus up to $1000 each day that the violation occurs.
The GFJC's letter additionally notes that Klein is displaying the CSUN name by providing it in the URL of the CSUN Boycott Page to further his propaganda and promotion of a boycott and of a political movement. As such, the letter states, his CSUN Boycott Page may also violate California Educational Code § 89005.5(a)(2)(C), which provides that “No person shall . . . use [the CSUN] name … in any of the following ways: … to display, advertise, or announce [the CSUN] name publicly at, or in connection with …]any propaganda, advertising, or promotional activity of any kind which has for its purpose or any part of its purpose the support, endorsement, advancement, opposition, or defeat of any strike, lockout, or boycott or of any political, religious, sociological, or economic movement, activity, or program.”
According to GFJC, the CSUN computers, bandwidth, hard drive space, hosting capabilities, servers, electronic infrastructure and equipment, etc., are all owned by the public university and are therefore public resources. California State University is aware of Klein’s prolonged use of CSUN’s servers and equipment to advocate for his controversial political positions, the letter notes. California law, however, does not only restrict the use of public resources, but also the act of permitting others to use public resources for personal purposes.
In authorizing and supporting Klein’s personal use of CSUN’s information systems, says the letter, CSUN and the college's officials may also be in violation of law.
The letter urges Attorney General Harris to launch an immediate investigation into Klein and CSUN's illegal conduct.
“The Global Frontier Justice Center fully supports academic freedom and speech that is protected by the First Amendment,” stressed Attorney Kenneth Leitner. “However, Klein may not use public resources for his private purposes. The problem is not Klein’s speech, it is his conduct. Klein is entitled to speak as a private citizen all that he wants. But he must do so using his own resources. The law merely forbids the manner of his speech, not its content.”
Leitner added, “Using public resources for private purposes is illegal. Klein and those CSUN officials who permit and sanction Klein’s on-going misuse of public resources should be held accountable. We ask the Attorney General to ensure that the monies that have been misappropriated, plus the penalties authorized by statute, be returned to the taxpayers of California.”
The Global Frontier Justice Center is a human rights law organization dedicated to enforcing basic human rights through the legal system.