The former boss of the mysterious California lawyer behind a state ballot proposal that would mandate executing gay people said on Tuesday that he hopes the public will show no mercy on his old employee.
“Go after him with a knife and fork,” Bruce C. Bridgman told TPM when reached by phone.
Now semi-retired, Birdgman heads a firm, The Law Office of Bruce C. Bridgman, that in 2002 briefly employed Matthew Gregory McLaughlin, who has been unreachable since news broke of his now-infamous “Sodomite Suppression Act.”
“My own personal opinion here is that he has crossed the line, between free speech and advocating illegal conduct,” Bridgman, a former deputy district attorney for both Los Angeles and Orange County, told TPM.
Despite his outrageous proposal, McLaughlin’s past remains foggy: Aside from another failed ballot initiative in 2004 — lobbying to make the Bible required reading in public schools — he hasn’t made much of a splash in Orange County since he began his practice in 1998. The State Bar website says that his license remains active.
When TPM called McLaughlin’s phone number on Thursday, the line went directly to a voicemail. The same thing happened on Tuesday when TPM called again. McLaughlin has not returned multiple messages seeking comment.
The Los Angeles Times went as far as to take a trip to the Huntington Beach address where McLaughlin is registered to vote. No one answered the door.
So what was McLaughlin like back during his brief time at Bridgman?
“Unremarkable,” Bridgman said. “I wouldn’t recognize him if I were to see him.”
He had nothing good to say about McLaughlin, who worked for the firm around 2002, where he was “in and out” for about a month of contract work, according to Bridgman.
He says McLaughlin would have worked on a few civil cases, picking up “overflow” work from other attorneys. He wasn’t fired — rather, he simply finished up his work there and departed.
“I’m just embarrassed that this is a member of the bar in the first place,” Bridgman said.
He said that the firm was staffed by about 25 people when McLaughlin was there. Bridgman added that it has always been a fairly diverse place, with a consistent balance of men and women and lawyers from an array of backgrounds, observing many different faiths.
“There’s never been anyone who’s displayed any hostility to any group,” he said.
When he heard about “The Sodomite Suppression Act,” Bridgman said he was rendered speechless.
“I am frightened that there are people like this in our community, and that they are given special status, in this case, as a member of the California bar,” he said.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Kamala Harris declared that she would seek authority from the state Supreme Court to kill the “patently unconstitutional” measure. Barring that, she would be forced to allow its circulation and let it fail from lack of signatures or a court ruling.
Meanwhile, Bridgman said he believes that McLaughlin should face the professional consequences of his actions.
“The bar association should revoke his license. This clearly indicates moral turpitude and advocates illegal conduct and heinous, horrible, reprehensible conduct,” he said. “So I hope that the bar association takes action.”
Bridgman stressed that he wasn’t aware of anyone at the firm who would still know McLaughlin.
“I feel so sorry for the poor people that did know him!” he said. “Like the people who knew him in high school.”
TPM illustration by Christine Frapech. Silhouette via Shutterstock / Benoit Daoust.