Craig Tenbroeck, North County Times (Temecula, California), September 19, 2008
An anti-illegal immigration group, the San Diego Minutemen, is trying to pull two Latino lawmakers into its legal clash with the California Department of Transportation.
Attorneys for the group have asked a federal judge for permission to expand their free speech lawsuit against the state agency. They want to add Assemblyman Joe Coto (D-San Jose) and state Sen. Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) to the defendant list. They also want to ask for punitive damages, court documents show.
Minutemen attorney Howard Kaloogian, a former state assemblyman, accused the lawmakers Thursday of urging Caltrans to ban the group from participating in the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program.
The Minutemen sued Caltrans in February after the agency revoked the group’s permit to pick up trash along a stretch of Interstate 5, near the Border Patrol checkpoint. Caltrans also removed a courtesy sign with the group’s name.
Kaloogian filed the request to amend the suit Monday in U.S. District Court.
“We have uncovered an active conspiracy to obviously deny our clients their constitutional rights,” he said. “This deserves to be punished.”
The group also plans to allege that Coto and Cedillo worked with Caltrans to “silence the Minutemen’s message and remove the Minutemen’s presence from public view,” court documents show.