RE-POSTED Part two of a five-part series from: www.VoiceOfSanDiego.org
Originally posted by KELLY THORNTON
At the Deputy District Attorneys Association’s annual board meeting in January, top prosecutor Bonnie Dumanis made a brazen request: Don’t endorse in the 2010 sheriff’s race.
Stay neutral, she urged, because our office has regular dealings with the sheriff.
Never mind that Dumanis herself has already endorsed Bill Gore for sheriff, despite her 2007 pledge to stop endorsing candidates to protect the integrity of her office.
Dumanis wants Gore to replace her closest political ally and mentor, retired Sheriff Bill Kolender. And if her deputies aren’t going to endorse Gore, she wants them to stay out of a hotly contested race that is shaping up to be a test of her political prowess and how far she will go for a candidate.
It remains to be seen what the association will do with its endorsement.
But Dumanis’ zeal for Gore has irked some deputy district attorneys because it puts them in the awkward position of having to choose between their boss and fellow law enforcement unions, such as the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, backing Gore’s opponent, Jim Duffy.
“There is a schism developing within the association,” one deputy district attorney said.
“There’s a sizeable group of people who are in favor of backing Jim Duffy, based mostly on the fact the DSA has endorsed Jim Duffy and we should back our fellow labor representatives and present a united front in law enforcement,” said the attorney, who was granted anonymity to speak freely on the issue. “She has backed Gore, who came from the outside, was a fed, was here for maybe a year as chief of our investigators, and all of a sudden he’s the acting sheriff.”
Dumanis made the pledge to stop endorsing at a 2007 press conference in which she announced the creation of a public integrity unit that would take on political corruption. She made an exception for judicial and public safety-related races, a category so broad she even included San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, since he makes police-related budget decisions.
“I will not allow our office to be used as a pawn during political campaigns,” she said.
But it’s a joke now among insiders because her political activity has hardly slowed down. Dumanis is a kingmaker with statewide political clout, and since her declaration she’s made numerous endorsements.
The sheriff’s race is a battle between the county’s elite politicians, like Dumanis and Sanders, who back Gore, and the rank-and-file cops who support Duffy.
Gore, the former special agent in charge of the San Diego FBI office, was Kolender’s undersheriff and handpicked successor, and also briefly served as Dumanis’ chief of investigations. Gore’s father worked with Kolender when Kolender was San Diego police chief.
Duffy, a career deputy and son of the late Sheriff John Duffy, has the support of every major law enforcement union, including the largest and most influential, the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and the San Diego Police Officers Association.
The DSA endorsement is considered particularly important because the organization is able to make independent expenditures on behalf of Duffy’s campaign, which are not subject to the same $500 limits as individual campaign donors.
The DSA could end up spending tens of thousands of dollars for Duffy on radio and television ads and yard signs.
Some deputy district attorneys said Dumanis asked them to remain neutral, and others remembered it differently, saying she first urged their union’s board members at the January meeting to support Gore for sheriff, and if they couldn’t do that, to remain neutral.
During a recent interview, Dumanis told a reporter she only suggested the unions remain “neutral.”
Reporter: Have you made a suggestion or a request of any of the associations to support Gore?
Dumanis: No I haven’t. I did once say I urge you to probably be neutral because that’s an office we deal with regularly but I would never tell them who they should support.
Reporter: You asked them to be neutral even though you’re endorsing?
Dumanis: No, I said if you were going to consider endorsing anybody, I’d like you to consider staying neutral.
Reporter: You don’t want them to endorse Gore?
Dumanis: Well, I said, if they, I still think, it’s you know, unless they want to get involved, I don’t see any reason why they need to get involved.
Reporter: Don’t they typically endorse in most law enforcement situations? I mean, they’re endorsing you right?
Dumanis: Right. I don’t know. I don’t really discuss a whole lot of endorsements with them. Most of what I discuss with them is budget, and other issues in the office.
The president of the San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association at first said Dumanis has made no attempt to influence the association on the sheriff’s race.
“She hasn’t said a peep to us about the sheriff’s race,” said David Hendren, the association’s president. Read more www.VoiceOfSanDiego.org
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