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‘Birther’ judge accused of making crude and racist comments is still on the bench. For now.

The Washington Post logoThe Washington Post 10/19/2016 Kristine Guerra
Judge Gary Kreep. © San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep.

When Gary Kreep was campaigning for a judicial post in San Diego County, he was involved in political activities challenging President Obama’s citizenship and called for an investigation into Obama’s long-form birth certificate, documents say.

After he became a judge, Kreep was known for insulting defendants, commenting on the physical appearance of female attorneys, and making unnecessary references to people’s ethnicity during court hearings, documents say.

The San Diego Superior Court judge, who is also a conservative activist, is facing possible removal from the bench. According to the California’s Commission on Judicial Performance, Kreep’s alleged conduct during his 2012 candidacy and his behavior during several hearings in 2013 violated the state’s rules on judicial ethics.

A notice of formal proceedings, which details charges against Kreep, was filed last week.

In the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election, Kreep signed a fundraising letter along with a petition asking Congress to hold a hearing on Obama’s eligibility for office, to investigate the president’s long-form birth certificate, and to determine whether Obama and others conspired to cover up evidence that he wasn’t born in the United States, documents say.

“We plan to lead a massive election year public education campaign, to ensure that millions of Americans know, by this fall, exactly what these potential crimes by Barack Obama may be,” Kreep wrote in the letter, in which he asked for financial support on behalf of the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative nonprofit organization.

Kreep wrote and signed three letters regarding this issue in May and June 2012, when he was a candidate for judge, documents say. One of the letters talked about grass-roots campaigns “to expose Barack Obama’s fraudulent occupation of the White House.”

The 17-page document detailing the charges against Kreep also lists several instances in which he made crude remarks in his courtroom, where he presided over traffic and misdemeanor cases as well as civil lawsuits.

In 2013, for instance, Kreep asked a woman accused of prostitution if there was anything he could do to get her “out of the life.”

“Is it you like the money? Or you just like the action?” Kreep asked the woman during a plea hearing, documents say.

When the woman began talking about her plans for the future, Kreep asked if she would try to get a job at the Bunny Ranch, a Nevada brothel.

During another hearing that same year, according to the documents, Kreep said: “We got all sorts of very attractive, young [public defenders] around here, so.” In another instance, when speaking to a defendant, he referred to an attorney as “this lovely young lady standing next to you.”

He made comments about a deputy city attorney’s pregnancy, saying she “wants to go home and have her baby.” He also used nicknames and phrasuch as “Bunhead,” “Dimples,” “Shorty” and “little boy” to refer to a public defender and a few interns.

Documents say Kreep also made references to the ethnicity of various defendants and attorneys. He often used Spanish phrases and sentences — such as “momento por favor,” and “no cerveza, no tequila, no alcohol, nada, until your case is over” — to addresses defendants and attorneys.

During another 2013 hearing, Kreep commented on a deputy prosecutor’s accent and asked if she was a Mexican citizen.

“I am a U.S. citizen and proud of it,” the deputy prosecutor told Kreep.

“I wasn’t planning on having you deported,” Kreep told her.

Later that year, he mentioned a “Chinese prostitutes” case during a hearing. Kreep then addressed the deputy city attorney, who is Taiwanese American.

“No offense to Chinese people,” he told the attorney.

When Kreep was one of the judges for a Halloween costume contest that same year, he told an African American court employee who won third place that he didn’t want her to say she “didn’t win due to racism.”

Kreep declined a request for comment.

“We welcome a full and impartial hearing on the charges and our defense to the charges,” his attorney, James Murphy, told The Washington Post.

Kreep was elected in June 2012, narrowly defeating a prosecuting attorney, Garland Peed, in the primary election.

The investigation into Kreep conduct began after a group of 16 attorneys filed a complaint in April 2013 with the Commission on Judicial Performance. The complaint focused on Kreep’s political activities while running to become judge and his alleged misrepresentation of his involvement in political organizations.

Documents say Kreep did not resign from his positions as president of the Justice Political Action Committee and as chairman of the Republican Majority Campaign, another political action committee, before running for judicial office.

During his 2012 campaign, Kreep used his personal credit card instead of his campaign contribution account to pay for more than $41,000 in expenditures, documents say.

Len Simon, one of the attorneys who filed the complaint, said they decided to investigate because they were unhappy with the way the judicial elections had worked.

“He was a combination of dishonest and sloppy,” Simon said. “We took him on. We like to have good judges. Good judges are good for the system. He’s a politician.”

Murphy, Kreep’s attorney, said a hearing in front of three special masters is tentatively scheduled for February. The trio will then deliver a report to the Commission on Judicial Performance. If found guilty of the misconduct charges, Kreep could face, among other things, a public reprimand or removal from office.

Kreep received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at San Diego in 1972, according to Ballotpedia. He received his law degree from the University of San Diego in 1978. He was in private practice while serving as chief executive officer and general counsel for the United States Justice Foundation, which, according to its website, was created to “advance the conservative viewpoint in the judicial arena.”

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