Legal aid group subpoenaed on suspected service to illegals By Jim McElhatton September 8, 2007 Investigators subpoenaed records from a prominent California legal aid group to determine whether it has violated federal rules by using taxpayer money to perform work for illegal aliens. The California Rural Legal Assistance Corp. (CRLA), which is fighting the subpoena, has until next week to explain to a judge in Washington why it should not turn over client records to the federal Legal Services Corp. Inspector general investigators say they've been stymied in the probe into whether the California legal group focuses its resources on farm worker and Latino issues while limiting services to inner-city residents and others, according to court filings. An interim report by the Legal Services' inspector general to Congress last year also found that the legal aid group's management practices "at least create the condition in which representing ineligible aliens is possible without detection." The report cited a confidential source as saying that "there was a clear feeling among certain CRLA staff that anyone unwilling to serve undocumented persons is a bad person." The Legal Services Corp is a federally funded agency based in Washington that funds organizations across the country to provide legal services to low-income people, including paying more than half of the California Rural Legal Assistance Corp.'s $12.5 million budget last year. The director of the San Francisco-based legal aid group said the organization does not provide services to illegal aliens because federal rules prohibit the practice. Violations could jeopardize federal funding under federal rules. "You cannot serve undocumented clients with federal dollars," said Jose Padilla, executive director of the group. "A random selection ... would reveal we're complying with those regulations."