Fall Gal

A money-laundering scandal may have helped bring down former Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. But indicted political maven Julie Lee stands to pay the ultimate price.

"Although some of my critics may say that I was a jerk, or overly opinionated, they've never said that I was unethical," he says. "To be so profoundly accused of a lack of ethics, it literally hurts me to my core, and I certainly regret that that part of my reputation is so strikingly damaged."

He says his decision to step down was "the result of a complicated set of factors," not least of which were the toll his troubles were taking on his family and his assessment that had he chosen to stay in office he couldn't have been effective.

"In no way was there any fear of any legal consequences should I have remained," he says.

Although Shelley says he had to mortgage his home to meet personal expenses, his political friends have helped fill the coffers of his legal defense fund. John Burton and Fabian Nñez were the single biggest contributors, at $15,000 apiece. State Sen. Carole Migden gave $7,500, and Assemblyman Mark Leno chipped in $2,000. "I felt Kevin was shoddily treated, and he paid a heavy price for it," says Migden, who says she was "glad to help Kevin and his family during their time of need."

Meanwhile, Julie Lee awaits a January court date, uncertain about her future.

"She's holding up as well as one could expect," says Donald Bergerson, her attorney. "But let's face it: She's been left alone in this. She's got the weight of the world on her shoulders."

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