Hayashi Hired ‘The Fixer’

Katy Grimes: The strange news that a benign brain tumor is the real reason that Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi shoplifted at Neiman Marcus isn’t odd enough – today’s Sacramento Bee ran a front page, above-the-fold story again about Hayashi’s incident, but it was a kinder, gentler version.

“I accept responsibility and I offer apologies, not excuses,” the Bee reported that Hayashi said in a written statement. The title of their story, Mary Hayashi Apologizes For Unintentional Shoplifting, told the story.

The first reports after the shoplifting incident reported that Hayashi’s spokesman blamed the theft on her cell phone use at the time, which caused her to forget to pay. Now he says it might be a brain tumor.

Prosecutors said that Hayashi, who represents the 18th California Assembly District east of San Francisco, was caught on a security camera walking out of the store on Union Square with a shopping bag full of items she didn’t pay for.

Hayashi’s hired spokesman said she had been inside of Neiman Marcus in Union Square, and walked out of the store while using two cell phones. But she took three articles of clothing with her, dropped into a shopping bag that she brought with her into the store.

This is where details get a little fuzzy. I know that I’ve never unintentionally or intentionally put any articles of clothing into another shopping bag before walking out of a store, much less three pieces of clothing. And I have been known to talk on the phone while I shop.

“Hayashi was stopped by Neiman Marcus’ security detail shortly after leaving the store around 12:15 p.m. Tuesday with a shopping bag that included three items worth $2,450 that she hadn’t paid for when she checked out at the register, the district attorney’s office said,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Oct. 29. Hayashi allegedly stole leather pants, a black skirt and a white blouse worth $2,450.

Investigators say store security was tracking Hayashi after a saleswoman told security guards that she suspected the Assemblywoman of stealing a dress the week before.

The Bee reprinted Hayashi’s prepared statement:

“There were a number of personal factors that led to the situation where I made this absent-minded error,” she said. “My medical condition may have complicated the situation, however, I want to be clear that I take full personal responsibility for my actions.”

Hayashi said she is “taking steps to deal with my health” while continuing to serve as a legislator.

“After a lifetime of public service, this has been a painful experience — but one of my own making,” she said.

Who Is Sam Singer?

Hayashi’s hired spokesman, Sam Singer’s website states that he is “nationally known for handling some of most significant public affairs and crisis communications issues of the day.”


“Sam Singer has been dubbed ‘The Fixer’ by the San Jose Mercury News, a ‘Top Gun for Hire’ by the San Francisco Chronicle, and one of the most powerful people in San Francisco by 7X7 Magazine for his ability to turn the news around when things look dire for his clients,” his website said.

Several of the newspapers in Hayashi’s district have reported a surprising lack of sympathy from her constituents. “My gut feeling, as a constituent, is that it’s a BS excuse in order to get out of her crime,” said Brian Morrison, who is president of the Castro Valley Chamber of Commerce but stressed that he is speaking only as an individual, the Bee reported in another story later in the day.

In Hayashi’s Brain Tumor Defense Gathers No Sympathy, reporter Steven Tavares from East Bay News, attended Hayashi’s court hearing Friday, and wrote:

If this woman who has quite assuredly ruined her political career with a deeply regrettable error one harmless day last October is now wrestling with her own mortality, don’t you think her husband would accompany her to face her fate in court? Instead, she was as alone as a public figure could possibly be. In addition, if Hayashi, whose reputation is in need of a significant overhaul, wanted to begin the healing by revealing the weight of brain tumor hovering over her life, she would have squared up to the cameras and told the world about the diagnosis herself. She didn’t. In fact, she squirreled away to pay her paltry $180 fine and later dodged the press.”

District Attorney George Gascon said his office would accept the judge’s decision, ABC news reported. “She is a first-time offender. She has no criminal record. So while what she did is inexcusable and she needs to be held accountable for her actions, I think it’s appropriate to examine and explore all the different possibilities,” Gascon said.

I am not sure how Sam Singer is going to spin the District Attorney’s statement.

Remember that right after her arrest, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Singer called Hayashi’s arrest “a mistake,” and that “she had walked out of the store with the items unintentionally and intended to go back.”

But Singer also said Hayashi is “distraught by this misunderstanding … and she believes this will be cleared up in the near future.” He added, “She apologizes for any misunderstanding.”

JAN. 10, 2012

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