To the ACLU, Orange County Commissioner Clarence Hoenstine's use of the county insignia on letters soliciting funds for his church was a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state. But the District 4 commissioner, who faces three challengers to his re-election, has nonetheless decided to disregard the ACLU's letter threatening a lawsuit if he ever tried it again.
"If they had something illegal, they would have sued me," Hoenstine said. "It's nothing but a scare tactic. Would I do it again? Yes, it's legal."
It's possible to understand Hoenstine's brazen response. After all, Orange County taxpayers would be on the hook for any legal fees. Harder to understand is the response of County Attorney Tom Wilkes, who likewise dismissed the constitutional argument. With a laugh, Wilkes concluded, "You're straining for an inference. I don't think anyone else would draw it."