ADL Settles California Case over Collecting Information

The Anti-Defamation League has reached a settlement with the San Francisco district attorney’s office, which has been investigating the ADL for months, by agreeing to an injunction not to use illegal methods to monitor the activities of others.

In the settlement, ADL officials admitted no wrongdoing and denied that they had bought illegally obtained information despite San Francisco District Attorney Arlo Smith’s contention that their fact-finding methods had breached the law.

The ADL will pay no fine or penalty.

The settlement also prevents criminal prosecution of ADL or of Roy Bullock, the researcher who collected personal information on nearly 10,000 politically active people and groups spanning the ideological spectrum and, according to investigators, sold most of it to ADL.

Bullock was described by the district attorney’s investigators, in an April story in the San Francisco Chronicle, as a full-time spymaster for the ADL. The ADL continues to work with Bullock, according to Abraham Foxman, the organization’s national director.

Foxman, along with Melvin Salberg, the ADL’s national chairman, hailed the settlement as a victory. “The agreement we have reached confirms our consistent position that ADL has engaged in no misconduct of any kind,” they said in a joint statement.

D.A. COULD NOT COME UP WITH ANYTHING

The settlement “also expressly recognizes ADL’s right to continue to gather and disseminate information in any lawful and constitutionally protected manner,” it said.

Foxman said that “the (San Francisco) district attorney moved heaven and earth to find something he could charge us with,” but could not come up with anything.

Rather than go to trial and be found innocent, Foxman said, the ADL settled because “continuing with an investigation over your head for months and years leads some to believe there is something wrong.”

To “continue this forever without resolution doesn’t serve our purposes,” he said. “We want to continue what we’re doing.”

As part of the settlement, the ADL has also agreed to create a San Francisco hate crimes award fund with $25,000 over the next two years. The fund will reward people for bringing information to the police that results in the indictments of perpetrators of hate crimes.

In addition, the ADL will underwrite a program that will train assistant district attorneys to speak to San Francisco public school children about bigotry and discrimination.

Settlement of the criminal case has no effect on the two civil suits that have been filed against the ADL, which continue to slowly wend their way through the legal process.

One, a class action suit on behalf of 13 individuals, was filed in June, and the other, on behalf of several Arab defense organizations along with the National Lawyers Guild and the American Indian Movement, was filed in October.

The second suit alleges ADL violated their members’ right to free expression and association.

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