Debate dodging, a suggestion of pay-to-play among her supporters, and the hint of a visit to a Thai whorehouse add up to bad news for “Law Enforcement’s Choice” for County District Attorney Summer Stephan.
The interim appointed DA has backed out of speaking with voters tonight at the City of Hope International Church in Lincoln Park at a forum that was supposed to feature both candidates for San Diego County District Attorney.
To be clear, this event was scheduled in a church that just happens to be in the heart of San Diego’s black community.
An event at the Jacobs Community Center was listed as “sold out” and by RSVP only. One local activist went anyway and discovered there was plenty of room. Another forum Stephan refused to appear at was sponsored by the NAACP. Maybe there’s a pattern emerging here.
Mid-City CAN has been active in the City Heights neighborhood for just short of three decades. Their current projects include working to improve transportation access, making school lunches more nutritious and culturally appropriate, and fostering a “safe, fair, and thriving community.”
The San Diego Organizing Project, a nonpartisan, multi-issue federation of 31 faith congregations, has spent the last 40 years working to bridge racial, cultural and economic divides in the region. They represent some of the most over-policed, over-prosecuted neighborhoods in San Diego, communities rarely engaged in political campaigns.
You’d think a candidate would be happy to speak with people engaged in working to improve their communities.
Summer Stephan apparently doesn’t see it that way. She bailed on the forum after organizers, having heard about the DA’s office staff showing up en masse at another event, asked for priority seating for neighborhood residents.
Candidate Geneviéve Jones-Wright will appear as promised to answer questions from the audience, starting at 6pm.
Appointed interim DA Stephan is running as “law enforcement’s choice.”
In Justice Today reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler recently asked her about financial support from the various law enforcement groups in San Diego:
“Police unions have not given me campaign donations and I don’t accept campaign donations from my own team,” Stephan said, responding to a question from In Justice Today. “Because I want to be very ethical when I promote them or do anything. Nor have I accepted donations from victims’ groups that we have contracts with.”
And while it’s true that Stephan’s campaign itself hasn’t accepted donations from law enforcement unions, In Justice Today has found that political action committees associated with local law enforcement groups have already spent at least $313,000 to support Stephan, and almost $5,000 on negative advertisements against her opponent.
The PAC with the most skin in this contest in support of Stephan is San Diegans Against Crime, largely a creature of the San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association. It would seem as though the Deputy DAs who work in her office are paying dues to keep their jobs. And it just happens they’re the same group showing up en masse at forums.
Law enforcement unions’ spending on district attorney campaigns has come under scrutiny across California in the lead-up to the June 5 election, especially because prosecutors who accept donations, or have received the support of law enforcement PACs, have repeatedly declined to press charges against officers who shoot unarmed civilians or engage in other forms of misconduct…
…San Diego has had its own recent spate of police shootings. At an early March press conference, Stephan announced that she had cleared four separate sheriff’s deputies of criminal charges in the killings of four civilians in separate incidents in 2017. Ten days after that, the San Diego Deputy Sheriff’s Association spent over $10,000 in support of Stephan.
Reformer Geneviéve Jones-Wright’s campaign has received $600,000 in support so far from a PAC funded by liberal billionaire George Soros.
The campaign ad featured on the “Law Enforcement’s Choice” [Stephan] website strongly implies Soros is somehow linked with “Antifa” [which is an idea, not group], which is just the latest in a series of conspiracy theories backed by anti-semitic extremists. Other progressive groups are funding reform-minded candidates around the country, aiming to right some historic wrongs. The ACLU backing a statewide effort to educate people about the role of District Attorneys.
Heres Shaun King, the co-founder of Real Justice PAC, which has endorsed Jones-Wright, quoted in a recent Huffington Post article:
“We often think of bad cops, horrible incidents of police brutality, but at the heart of all of it is 2,400 district attorneys,” King said. “Most local people can’t describe their DA or its functions. It’s a system that operates in the shadows. And they have sweeping powers to run the local justice system.”
King is right: Prosecutors are among the most powerful government agents in the American criminal justice system. They have complete and unrivaled access to the evidence that can determine a person’s guilt or innocence. They have broad powers over how seriously to take a charge against an individual and how aggressively they are willing to pursue a case. They can cut deals with witnesses, co-conspirators, and defendants, and they can pile on charges to produce sentences to strong-arm someone into taking a plea deal. Prosecutors determine the charges a defendant will ultimately face and set the parameters for the eventual punishment a person might receive.
America’s elected prosecutors do not reflect the diversity of the jurisdictions they serve. Ninety-five percent of elected prosecutors are white, and 79 percent are male. Only 1 percent of prosecutors are women of color. And the majority of prosecutors — 85 percent — run for election unopposed.
Finally, while Summer Stephan has worked hard to build her reputation as a warrior against human trafficking, it would appear that one of her senior staffers either hasn’t got the message or thinks it’s fodder for bad jokes.
.@SDDistAtty Summer Stephan’s Chief DA Investigator Miguel Rosario makes comments about going to “whore houses in Thailand.”
— Rory Fleming (@RoryFleming8A) May 11, 2018
Rosario has either deleted or taken all his social media accounts private since this image went public last Friday.
I can’t ignore this.
As much as I don’t like to get into discussions about politics in this region, the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem was a terrible idea. The death toll has risen to 52 as of this writing.
Literally right next to each other in my Twitter feed right now. pic.twitter.com/C1u8G1O22D
— Stonekettle (@Stonekettle) May 14, 2018
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