DA Reisig Retaliating against a Political Opponent?

Maria Grijalva pumps her fist during a 2016 protest

On Monday, Maria Grijalva had a knock at her door, and DA Investigator David Marshall delivered a letter.  The letter delivered, dated September 17 and signed by Deputy DA Ryan Couzens indicated that their office “is currently reviewing campaign financing and report as it related to your 2016 Campaign for the West Sacramento City Council.”

According to the notice, “we intend to serve the attached Investigative Subpoena” on her bank.  They notified her that “we are attempting to obtain your bank records relating to that campaign as described in the enclosed Investigative Subpoena.”

They instructed her, “If you object to the witness furnishing the records to our office, you must file papers with the court or serve a written objection as provided in Code of Civil Procedure…”  They add, “If we ultimately do not agree in writing to cancel or limit the subpoena, you should consult an attorney about your interest in protecting his or her rights of privacy.”

The case immediately rang alarm bells with some, because Maria Grijalva was a major donor, who donated over $25,000 to Jeff Reisig’s opponent Dean Johansson.

“I gave money because money is required to run a campaign,” she told the Vanguard back in May.  “Especially, to start momentum.  The campaign had no money.”

She explained, “I had been waiting for almost 10 years for someone to run against Reisig.  This was/is a rare window of opportunity.”

Ms. Grijalva was very critical of the DA on a number of policies.

When I first met Maria Grijalva it was in Broderick two years ago, and she had families who sons were being prosecuted as adults in trumped-up gang cases that allowed the DA to direct file them as adults. Ultimately, most ended up back in the juvenile system, but not after time in custody, over six months, and pending charges.

She then ran for West Sacramento City Council, taking on the Cabaldon machine, but not faring well at the polls.

She put away some money through shred investment in real estate. Prior to the 2008 crash, she had five rental properties, but lost it all during the crash including her own home. She had to start anew in 2009, purchasing her West Sacramento home. She paid it off completely in 2017 by renting out the bedrooms.

“I got a loan against my house and purchased an outdated house in Rancho Cordova with the loan. I updated the house and flipped it,” she said.

She pulled aside $30,000, wanting to run for County Board of Education. But she decided that “getting rid of Reisig and keeping kids out of jails (was) more important.” With the emergence of Dean Johansson, she explained, “My campaign for County Board of Education suddenly was not important.”

Ms. Grijalva explained, “I donated (this money) because I witnessed Reisig manipulate bureaucratic paperwork (paper tiger) to imprison innocent adolescent boys who were only guilty of petty infractions.”

She continued, “I saw them face million dollar bails for petty infractions and sit in jail for over a year waiting for a trial (I watched hearings get postponed over and over), boys facing strikes, life sentences. I saw these boys age while in jail from a young boy with baby fat still on their cheeks, I saw them grow in height, and also saw the baby fat leave their face as I saw a young angry man evolve.”

Maria Grijalva believes that Jeff Reisig “has used his seat for political gain starting with the gang injunction.”

She says he has a history of being corrupt.

Ms. Grijalva told the Vanguard, “There is a lot of information out there but the community does not know about his corrupt ways; by spending on Dean it is my hope the public becomes informed of what is happening to their neighbors. All families are subject to his tyranny. Reisig is not a public servant. He refuses to speak to the public. He refused our invitations to debate and discuss his policies in an opening setting by the WS & Davis LWV [League of Women Voters], except for the Woodland League (controlled) forum.

“He finds joy in charging adolescent boys as an adults. He doesn’t have any sons, so he has no empathy as a father. His policies are not in sync with the voters. He ignores data and statistics.”

Ms. Grijalva is not the only one feeling the sting of what appears to some to be politically motivated retaliation.  Last November, long time Deputy DA Larry Eichele decided to challenge Jeff Reisig, his boss, for the main office.  However, about six weeks later he dropped out of the race, citing personal issues.

The Vanguard has now confirmed that Mr. Eichele’s employment with the county has been terminated.  He declined comment on the situation, however, a reliable source has confirmed that he has since sold his Davis home and moved from the area.

Mr. Eichele joins a long list of critics of the DA who no longer work for the office.  Jim Walker ran against Judge Tim Fall in 2008, and has since left the office.  Clinton Parish ran against Judge Dan Maguire in 2012, and has since left the office.  Meanwhile, DA investigators Rick Gore and Randy Skaggs came forward with evidence of wrongdoing against the DA, and have long since been terminated from the office.

Ms. Grijalva has vowed to fight whatever is coming from the DA – others have told the Vanguard that this represents a clear conflict of interest and should be sent to the Attorney General’s office for any further investigation.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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88 thoughts on “DA Reisig Retaliating against a Political Opponent?”

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      LOL. Tell that to Ajay Dev. Regardless, if the DA thought there was something here, he should have forwarded it to the AG’s office to handle this matter.

    2. Tia Will

      If she’s done nothing wrong then Maria Grijalva has nothing to worry about”.

      Perhaps not in terms of legal penalties. I imagine she might have quite a bit to worry about in terms of hiring an attorney to defend against this investigation/claims as will almost certainly be necessary if Reisig persists. Let’s not pretend we don’t all know that lawyers are very expensive. Reisig doesn’t have to worry about that since it is our money he is spending. Ms. Grijalva does not have that advantage.

  1. Jim Hoch

    This is a pretty serious allegation with nothing to substantiate it.

    “Ms. Grijalva is not the only feeling the sting of retaliation.  Last November, long time Deputy DA Larry Eichele decided to challenge Jeff Reisig, his boss for the main office.  However, about six weeks later he dropped out of the race citing personal issues.
    The Vanguard has now confirmed that Mr. Eichele’s employment with the county has been terminated.  He declined comment on the situation, however, a reliable source has confirmed that he has since sold his Davis home and moved from the area.”

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Really, maybe you can explain why Eichele who had a clean employment record is suddenly investigated and put on admin leave a month after he announced he was running against the boss?

      1. Jim Hoch

        “departing under mysterious circumstances” and “being retaliated against by the DA” are very different things.

        The most likely possibility to me is that something happened in his personal life that caused him to want to move, and for that reason he ended his campaign and moved.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Except, in that case he could simply state, I left for personal reasons, he would not have a confidentiality agreement.

      2. Keith O

        Maybe you can explain except you didn’t/couldn’t.  Eichele refused to comment, why?  If I felt I was unfairly terminated I would be talking to anyone who would listen.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I haven’t asserted that it was retaliation, I asked it as a question. (See headline).

        1. Jim Hoch

          If someone believed their boss was on the prod for them that way, why withdraw? Why not go for broke as in the the circumstances you paint there is nothing to lose?

          Your explanation does not make sense.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Your explanation makes no sense – there would not be a settlement agreement with a confidentiality clause if he simply left.

        2. Tia Will

          Respectfully Keith, I doubt you would know how you would respond if you were actually in his shoes. What about effects on your career? Effects on your family finances and opportunities should there be retaliatory action? These are not trivial concerns.

        3. Howard P

          Maybe you shouldn’t make allegations until you “know”.

          LOL and then some… never stopped you as to “lefties”

          The usual with lefties.

          Does that also apply to “righties”?  Or are they just ‘right’?  Suggest, if true, you refer to them (“lefties”) as “wrongies”… simplifies things… and,

          nice attempt at a dodge.

          Chickens and roosting comes to mind… as do the 4 D’s… SOP. right?

          Dodge ball!

    1. Tia Will

      Ken A

      Gangs exist. Gang participation can and does result in deaths of innocents. However, that does not mean that all POC who live in a neighborhood where there is gang activity are participants in that activity. This is the crux of the issue of “trumped up charges”. One aspect of the last DA race was not “tough on crime” vs “soft on crime” but rather a preventative vs a punitive model for lessening gang violence. However, “tough on crime” is how DA Reisig continues to portray and conduct his office.

        1. Tia Will

          Yes, I know. You have stated clearly that you favor an incarceration based model of justice. I think you may not understand the full implications and costs of that approach. For instance overcrowding of prisons and the Plata and other law suits originating in 2001 and resulting in receivership have cost CA taxpayers many unnecessary millions of dollars in legal fees. All of which could have been avoided by preventing entry into the legal system and/or decreasing the length of sentencing for relatively minor offenses.

          https://cchcs.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/60/2018/01/Receiver-FactSheet.pdf

  2. Tia Will

    Keith

    Again, as David has already said, he did not “leap to a conclusion”. He posed a question and quoted Maria Grijalva. I suspect he would have quoted Jeff Reisig also except for the fact that Reisig will not talk with David, nor in open debate about the practices of his office.

    You and others on the other hand have been very quick to rise to the defense of DA Reisig, presumably based on even less information than David has since you have not stated your evidence.

    Part of my perception of the office of the DA comes from the Citizens Academy sponsored by the DAs office as well as various law enforcement agencies. From that multi week educational sessions, I learned that law enforcement and the DAs office are indeed heavily invested in a “good guys” vs “bad guys” model of law enforcement as opposed to a community based prevention approach. That is in their own words, not mine. The “good guys” vs “bad guys” phrase was used over and over. Prevention  was basically addressed as a side line in response to questions.

    1. Keith O

      Again, as David has already said, he did not “leap to a conclusion”. He posed a question and quoted Maria Grijalva.

      Tia, read this paragraph again and tell me that David isn’t inferring that Eichele is also feeling retaliation.

      “Ms. Grijalva is not the only feeling the sting of retaliation.  Last November, long time Deputy DA Larry Eichele decided to challenge Jeff Reisig, his boss for the main office.  However, about six weeks later he dropped out of the race citing personal issues.

      1. Tia Will

        I read it and it is no secret that David, as well as many others, believe, based on previous behavior patterns and secrecy from the DAs office that there has been past retaliatory behavior. That does not mean that he is committed to that position in the case of Ms. Grijalva, nor did he state so. That is your inference.

    2. Keith O

      You and others on the other hand have been very quick to rise to the defense of DA Reisig, presumably based on even less information than David has since you have not stated your evidence.

      Just as in my opinion you and David have been very quick to demean Reisig based on very sketchy evidence as today’s article proves.

      1. Craig Ross

        But you seem very quick to ignore a lot of problems here with the fact that this looks like retaliation and the reason it looks like it is that the DA should not be the agency looking into it given the role this woman has played.

      2. Tia Will

        Incorrect. During the campaign, unlike some commenters who claimed based on no evidence that Reisig was “near perfect”, I was careful to cite specific cases for every case that was in error in my opinion. That doesn’t mean that you will agree with my assessments. Only that I backed every single one up with specific data. Go back and read my comments if you disagree.

        Also please note that I have taken no position at all with regard to the current investigation.

  3. PhilColeman

    As we all see and hear the purported allegations, rebuttals implied intents and depicted portrayals of key persons, please keep one primary factor in mind. Every piece of information shown here is prepared, packaged, and presented from a perspective of only those who are completely antagonistic towards DA Jeff Reisig.

    Even the letter, delivered a month after is the date of writing is presented as hearsay and in summary edited form. Publish the entire letter and allows us to read its entire content.

    We’ve been invited to immediately and summarily suspect this is a political payback, note the tone and intent of the rhetorical question title. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. How about we all watch the proceedings of this process very carefully and see what actually, under rule of law, happens? Then we can all critique and criticise and moralize when all available information is before us.

    1. Tia Will

      Phil

      No one is arguing that there are not biases involved in reporting. However, I would note that a more fair presentation would be available if DA Reisig were more forthcoming about the functioning of his office. There are lots of potential reasons for that, but the fact remains that DA Reisig is himself the master of silence or preprepared and biased information in the form of press releases which are essentially his only communication with the public except for his carefully packaged Citizens Academy.

    2. Alan Miller

      We’ve been invited to immediately and summarily suspect this is a political payback, note the tone and intent of the rhetorical question title.

      Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Davis Vanguard.

  4. Craig Ross

    Typical Vanguard discussion focused on semantics rather than the fact that the DA should recuse himself and turn it over to the AGs office if they really believe there is something to investigate.

    1. Ken A

      I’m wondering if Craig thinks the DA should 1. Turn over every person who voted for his opponent to the AG, 2. Just turn over the people that donated to his opponent to the AG, or 3. Just turn over the people that donate over $20K to their opponent to the AG.

      1. Craig Ross

        Craig is wondering if Ken is off his rocker?  Someone who creates a special campaign isn’t simply a donor or someone who voted for his opposition.  She organized protests against him.  Funded ads and other other attack pieces.  Perhaps can tell us how many poeple in Yolo County have had their campaign finances subpoenaed by the District Attorney?  The people I talked to this morning, couldn’t name or think of a single case in the last 20 years at least.  Quit pretending like this is normal.

        1. Keith O

          There you go, playing the racism card.  The usual with lefties.

          KeithO’s Law, anytime you get into a disagreement with a liberal when someone of race is involved the liberal will eventually cry racism.

        2. Craig Ross

          Except – who was the first one to bring up race?  Ken wrote: “(it’s) strange that a poor woman of color… would donate $25K to a guy running for DA.”  No one brought up race until Ken did.  Then Jeff follows along the same lines, arguing “her story was always noted as fishy…”. Why is her story fishy?  Woman of color of course.  As Rik pointed out, the right invented race baiting.  I just called a spade a spade.  You can stick your law and eat it.

        3. Jeff M

          Then Jeff follows along the same lines, arguing “her story was always noted as fishy…”. Why is her story fishy?  Woman of color of course.

          So as this is a freakin’ twisted and, frankly insane, comment again trying to claim that my comment was racist, I guess it is fair for me to respond that you appear to be sick and need some therapy.

          Really Craig… because I said her story was fishy I am pointing out that she is a person of color?

          You have gone so far in your hypersensitivity that you are no longer rational.

        4. Craig Ross

          Ken is the one who pointed out that she was a person of color.  Why is her story fishy?  I’ve seen at least two accounts in the last month on this site where people had mone from real estate sales seized by the DA’s office, only to be returned when it was shown to be legit.  So what makes this story fishy?  Give you a hint, poor, woman of color.  Read Ken’s words.  You guys raised the issue and then whine when you get called on it.  You can’t have it both ways.

        5. Craig Ross

          Ken injected race.  You and Jeff jumped in.  That’s why it’s called race baiting.

          From Rik’s definition:

          “the unfair use of statements about race to try to influence the actions or attitudes of a particular group of people”
          “the making of verbal attacks against members of a racial group”

          Point in fact: why was it relevant for Ken to point out that she was a woman of color in casting suspicion on how she came up with the money to donate? That’s a clear appeal to people’s prejudice. in other words, textbook racism.

  5. Jeff M

    David [Greenwald] is afflicted with Reisig Derangement Syndrome.  It is similar to Trump Derangement Syndrome and would likely be similar to Hillary Derangement Syndrome had she won.   The malady causes an emotional flailing about… a tenancy toward hyperbole, alternative facts, and double-standards.  The symptoms are soothed by fake news, The View and politicized late night talk shows.  It also causes an insatiable desire to resist, protest and seethe with righteous anger seeking retribution for imaginary, but strongly felt, harms.  Unfortunately it is also known by the medical community to shorten lifespans due to the self-caused psychological turmoil.

    Probably the worst outcome of this terrible XDS syndrome is the destruction of personal credibility for being in control of all mental faculty.  This can have an adverse impact on personal relationships.

    Getting healthy requires finding other hobbies and moving on.

      1. Jeff M

        So based on this comment you must be completely against the Bob Mueller which hunt following the DNC, Clinton campaign collusion with the Obama Justice and FBI departments to destroy their political opponent.

        Or maybe your outrage is selective to suit your politics?

        Or maybe you are forgetting that the job of the DA and all those working in law enforcement and judicial to pursue those that are suspected of breaking the law despite their politics.

        1. Craig Ross

          Mueller doesn’t have a conflict of interest.  He was hired by the Justice Department.  So there is no comparative point.

          The job of the DA is to pursue those that are suspect of breaking the law.  However, when there is a conflict of interest, DA’s generally recuse themselves and have another agency do the investigation.  BTW, what is Ms. Grijalva accused of doing?  What is the statement of probable cause to obtain the subpoena?

        2. Craig Ross

          In fact, Jeff, you’ll note that Sessions who cited a conflict of interest, recused himself from investigating the Russian issue.  Why did Reisig not only not recuse himself, but initiatiate an investigation?

        3. Keith O

          Sessions threw the decision for the witch hunt into Rosenstein’s lap whom we’re finding is a very biased political hack for the left.  Rosenstein should’ve recused himself too.

        4. Jeff M

          Sessions recused himself over the case being about Russian collusion which was the lie perpetrated by the fake dossier that was used by left over Obama political operative hacks in Justice and the FBI to lie to obtain FISA warrants to go on a fishing expedition to take down Trump.   Since there is no collusion, Sessions should have un-recused himself and fired Mueller and killed the entire fake political charade.  But Sessions is part of the establishment.

          Reisig is NOT part of the Davis social justice activists establishment, and thus has no political agenda to connect with him recusing himself.

      1. Jeff M

        They seem to work well enough to catch you often.

        But seriously, even a brain-dead organ donor noted the problem with Maria Grijalva’s $25k donation.   I would not be surprised if Reisig connects it back to George Soros.

        1. Jeff M

          Investigating her $25k campaign contribution to Reisig’s opponent could be considered a conflict of interest just like the Obama administration using a fake dossier to get a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign was/is a conflict of interest.

          However, investigating complaints of her City Council campaign money and expenses is not a conflict of interest… but might very well lead to an explanation for where she gets her money for all of her recent campaign money.

        2. Ken A

          Other that it has probably never happened before, I’m wondering if Jeff can tell us why he finds it strange that a poor woman of color (who rents rooms in her home) would donate $25K to a guy running for DA.

          P.S. The DA might also be looking in to how someone who “lost it all during the crash including her own home” who had to “start anew in 2009, purchasing her West Sacramento home” was able to “paid it off completely in 2017 by renting out the bedrooms.”  since even if you bought the cheapest home in West Sac in 2009 (had no expenses and slept in your car to rent EVERY room) the West Sac room rent would not be enough to pay off a mortgage in nine years…

        3. Craig Ross

          “Other that it has probably never happened before, I’m wondering if Jeff can tell us why he finds it strange that a poor woman of color (who rents rooms in her home) would donate $25K to a guy running for DA.”

          There are a lot of problems here – racism, implicit bias, placism – do you old white guys even read yourselves carefully enough to see your post is dripping with interposition and nullification?

  6. Howard P

    Will have to remember the “4-D’s”… right up there with the “6-P’s”, which I have found useful many times, over the years!  Thanks John! (meant sincerely)

  7. Tia Will

    I am going to start by pointing out that I know nothing at all of the Grijalva case or her finances. However, I do know quite a bit about how much money can be raised by renting out rooms once you have paid off a mortgage. Both in Davis, my son and his partner made enough renting out rooms first in a four bedroom house and subsequently in a three bedroom house to live off  including paying student tuition, supplies, gas, and all living expenses. That was their choice of how to spend their money. If one had in addition “flipped” a house for profit in the preceding few years, I do not see why would could not have managed to acquire $25,000 dollars. How one spends one’s own money should certainly be a matter of one’s own choice….right?

     

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Important to note, they are not at least at this time, looking into the $25,000 donation.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        You understand that that is not the standard. The authorities are not allowed to “check” her financial records unless they have cause to do so. So you have to start there. Does the DA have cause to search her records and does the fact that she is a political adversary and very recently render him unable to exercise impartial judgment over that?

        1. Keith O

          As Phil Coleman states below, “Somebody or something brought the financial dealings of Grijalva to the attention of the District Attorney.”  Do you know that’s not the case?  If this was brought to the DA’s attention isn’t it his job to investigate?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            We don’t know how or why this was initiated. That is a key question at this point. The declaration is vague at best.

            If this was brought to the DA’s attention, then best practices would have been recuse themselves and refer to the AG’s office.

        2. Keith O

          If this was brought to the DA’s attention, then best practices would have been recuse themselves and refer to the AG’s office.

          Read Phil Coleman’s comment below.

          So are saying that a DA can’t investigate anyone who donated to their opponent in a past election?

        3. David Greenwald Post author

          Geez. I was at the gym.

          “So are saying that a DA can’t investigate anyone who donated to their opponent in a past election?”

          No.  But you have to look at the totality of circumstances here – largest donor, vocal critic, ran a quasi-independent campaign against him.  Just like Reisig should not investigate Dean Johansson’s campaign activities, he shouldn’t be the one investigating Maria Grijalva’s.

      2. Tia Will

        Keith

        I responded to this point yesterday, but I will repeat, slowly.

        Investigations can be onerous even if one is completely innocent. They require time and frequently the services of a lawyer. The DA does not have to worry about the time involved, since it is his determination of where to use his resources. Also, the resources are not “his”, they are our taxpayer money. He will still get paid either way. That is not true for the individual being investigated who must use their own time and resources. So yes, I would say there is something to “worry” about, even if the person has done nothing wrong.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Not to mention, the DA’s intervention of this sort has a chilling effect on participation – even if people believe themselves above the board.

  8. Ron

    There is way too much political overtone (combined with a shortage of actual facts) in this article for me to figure out what is actually going on.  And, the comments aren’t shedding much light, in general.

    It would be helpful to know if this type of investigation is common, how/who initiated it, who normally would have jurisdiction over it, and whether or not it would normally be referred to the AG’s office due to the circumstances outlined in the article.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “It would be helpful to know if this type of investigation is common, how/who initiated it, who normally would have jurisdiction over it, and whether or not it would normally be referred to the AG’s office due to the circumstances outlined in the article.”

      I’ve checked with local election law attorneys and long time activists – not one can remember a single time this has occurred in Yolo County – that goes back probably 40 years.

      It would be helpful to know who initiated it – there is nothing about that in the letter or the declaration of probable cause.

      We don’t know what they are looking for either – which makes it’s more difficult to assess.

      The recusal seems fairly cut and dry. None of the attorneys I talked to felt that the DA should be doing this, they all said if he really had cause rather than this being a fishing expedition, he should have immediately turned over to the AG.

      1. PhilColeman

        I’m going to disagree with all the attorneys polled. Were the District Attorney to promptly refer this naked suspicion to the Attorney General that would be irresponsible, and COULD be alleged as being politically motivated.

        The simple act of referring an unsupported suspicion to the State Attorney General’s Office is in itself onerous. And if the suspicion had no basis in fact, it unnecessarily stains the reputation of Grijalva by putting her name forward at the State Enforcement level.

        Somebody or something brought the financial dealings of Grijalva to the attention of the District Attorney. At that precise moment the DA does not know whether or not it even remotely approaches the “probable cause” standard of prosecution. At that precise moment it’s premature to refer the matter to the Attorney General as it’s nothing but a naked accusation from some source. If the subpoena of financial records discloses some level of substantiation of the unsupported allegation, then and only then, would the District Attorney refer the matter to the Attorney General.

        While we are on the topic of political motivation, payback, and staining reputations. how is it that we even know about this matter? It was not the District Attorney. Who was it that revealed the content of a private letter, which was then published along with comments inviting discussion of the sinister motivation of the District Attorney? Place the measurement, “Politically motivated,” against that particular series of acts and see what you find.

  9. Tia Will

    “Politically motivated,” against that particular series of acts and see what you find.”

    It looks to me like most posters here are “finding” exactly what they want to find based on their own political perspective.

    1. Ron

      Tia:  “It looks to me like most posters here are “finding” exactly what they want to find based on their own political perspective.”

      It does.  However, David and Phil both bring up good points.  (I would add that the DA’s office must have already realized that they’d be under scrutiny, regarding this.  Which would theoretically make it more difficult to initiate/engage in “political payback” without experiencing possible repercussions, itself.)

      If there’s actually a reason to investigate (or refer to the AG’s office), the DA would be in the position of “damned if you do”, “damned if you don’t”.

      Maybe the answer is that we just don’t know, especially at this point.

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