Wade Sanders, the Navy veteran who served with U.S. Senator John Kerry during the Vietnam War and later played a prominent role in Kerry’s failed presidential campaign, has finally been disbarred from the practice of law. When Sanders ran for Congress here in 2000, he enjoyed the financial support of prominent La Jolla Democrats, including the late Murray Galinson and C. Hugh Friedman, onetime counsel to C. Arnholdt Smith and late husband of ex-congresswoman Lynn Schenk. Friedman died this January 29.
Back in May 2009, Sanders was given a 37-month prison term after copping a plea to charges of possessing child pornography. Once a top adviser to Lt. Gov. John Garamendi on veterans affairs and an assistant secretary of the Navy in the Clinton administration, Sanders was released from the pen last March, data posted on the federal prisoner locator website says.
According to the California Bar’s website, the Sanders disbarment occurred January 9. A stipulation and “order of inactive enrollment” dated July 27 of last year says the conduct of Sanders “harmed significantly a client, the public or the administration of justice.” In citing mitigating circumstances, the document says Sanders “submitted 80 letters of recommendation to the Court, including a letter from United States Senator John Kerry, attesting to his good character. Respondent was prepared to call at least 60 of these good character witnesses at the trial of this matter.”
The stipulation’s final conclusion: “Only if the most compelling mitigating circumstances clearly predominate, shall disbarment not be imposed. In the present proceeding, Respondent does not contest that the facts and circumstances surrounding the commission of the offense of which Respondent was convicted involve moral turpitude because he possessed over 600 visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
“Respondent also does not contest that his evidence of mitigating circumstances is not the most compelling mitigation that clearly predominates.” In August 2011, when Sanders was still behind bars, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus stripped the former Swift Boat captain of his Silver Star. Kerry was recently confirmed by the Senate as president Barack Obama’s new Secretary of State, succeeding Hillary Clinton.