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CIR wins bogus housing discrimination case

Washington, DC – CIR won an important victory in its defense of

California resident Travis Compton, who had been accused of
federal housing discrimination by a low-income housing
developer. U.S. Federal District Court Judge Oliver Wanger late
last week issued an order granting summary judgment in favor of
Mr. Compton on all eleven claims of discrimination and breach of
contract lodged against him.

According to Judge Wanger, there was no evidence of

statements or actions by Mr. Compton that were discriminatory or
that he was an active member of any housing discrimination

In 1997, Mr. Compton was appointed by the Mayor and City

Council of Fresno, California to serve on a community advisory
committee charged with making recommendations on proposed
development plans. In that capacity, Mr. Compton voted and
spoke against recommending bond funding for a low-income
housing project proposed by Affordable Housing Development
Corp. ("AHDC"). AHDC is a for-profit corporation that builds
apartment com-plexes and serves as landlord for low-income
tenants. As a consequence of exercising his First Amendment
right to speak out on a matter brought before the advisory
committee to which he had been appointed, Mr. Compton was
sued by AHDC for housing discrimination.

In addition to suing the City of Fresno (which declined to

approved the bond funding), AHDC and its principal officers,
multimillionaire real estate developer Peter Herzog and Michael
Conway, sued a number of individuals that had objected to the
development. According to documents disclosed during
discovery, Compton was included because he had made some
comments at a meeting that Herzog felt were "mean."

As a result of the lawsuit, Compton was forced to resign from

the city advisory council and incurred tens of thousands of legal
fees when the city refused to provide him with legal

CEO Terence Pell commented, "This is another example of

the misuse of federal discrimination law to stifle the expression of
unpopular views by individuals. Now we have the spectacle of a
for-profit housing developer using federal discrimination law to
threaten, intimidate and harass citizens whose only crime is
participating in public discussion about the use of public bonds to
finance private real estate developments."

More information related to this case

Last revised: November 7, 2003

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