IFAS | Freedom Writer | March 1995 | fresno.html

Christian Coalition activist
booted from Fresno DA's office

FRESNO, California Deputy district attorney Diane DiMaggio, a founder and past president of the Christian Coalition of Fresno, has given a new meaning to the term "stealth." Working quietly from her computer and phone at the district attorney's office in Fresno County, DiMaggio allegedly recruited Republican voters for the Fresno County Republican Central Committee.

As a result, on January 9th, DiMaggio was fired from her job for allegedly misappropriating public funds a felony, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Department. Criminal charges are pending.

The allegations came about when the DA's office installed new computers, and, during the process of data transfer, extensive data of a political nature showed up on DiMaggio's computer. Armed with a search warrant, officers found political circulars and other documents in DiMaggio's office, including literature from anti-abortion groups and Concerned Women for America.

The story, which first appeared in The Fresno Bee on February 7th, failed to mention DiMaggio's connections to the Religious Right. In fact, as far back as 1991, in a letter to the editor of The Fresno Bee, DiMaggio attacked Martin Young, a subscriber to the Institute for First Amendment Studies' Freedom Writer newsletter.

She accused Young, an active Roman Catholic, of "Christian bashing and anti-Christian bigotry" because he publicly challenged the Christian Coalition's agenda. "The true threat to the Bill of Rights," she wrote, "is the myth of 'separation of church and state' recently foisted on us by the secular humanist majority on the late Supreme Court."

DiMaggio, who led a church-based voter registration drive prior to the November 1994 elections, also worked as a private political consultant, according to an affidavit, and had a contract with the Fresno County Republican Central Committee.

She apparently did her political consulting work from her desk in the DA's office. According to The Fresno Bee, phone records from DiMaggio's phone at the DA's office from September 1993 to October 1994 showed that 309 calls were made to the Fresno Republican headquarters. The Bee also said DiMaggio's secretary had complained to a supervisor last fall that DiMaggio tried to recruit her to work as a Republican precinct captain. She said that most of DiMaggio's phone calls "were political in nature."

The Freedom Writer has obtained political materials from the Fresno Christian Coalition, including a "Dear Pastor" letter sent out to churches in 1992. "As Christians," the letter states, "we are constantly shocked to find that our legislators are passing laws that threaten our religious freedoms, destroy our families, and promote abomination."

The one-page letter closes with an appeal to join the "Christian Coalition Voter Registration campaign." The letter is signed by Diane DiMaggio, president of the Fresno Christian Coalition.

Last year DiMaggio turned the leadership of the Fresno Christian Coalition over to Ken Davis. Sources said that she remains active with the Fresno Christian Coalition, but time restraints prohibited her from continuing as president.

Last year DiMaggio told a columnist at The Fresno Bee that the Coalition opposes "abortion, special privileges for gays," and "generally anything" supported by the American Civil Liberties Union. Apparently, though, DiMaggio supports special privileges for Christians involved in political activities at taxpayer expense.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.