John Hill of The Sacramento Bee found that the California Highway Patrol repeatedly shut down signature gathering at Department of Motor Vehicle offices across the state in response to the petition drive to recall Gov. Gray Davis in the spring of 2003. The move reversed a long-standing CHP practice of allowing local offices to routinely grant permits for activities such as gathering signatures. "It ran counter to court precedent that government restrictions on free speech in public places must be narrow and serve a legitimate government interest like crowd control." The California Association of Highway Patrolmen contributed $150,000 to committees fighting the recall, and an additional $24,500 directly to Davis in the months leading up to the election. For two years during and after the recall, the CHP denied more than 100 applications to gather signatures or register voters at DMV offices.
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