On Thursday the CityWatch publication ran a story entitled, “Why We Should All be Concerned about the Attempt to Buy the District Attorney’s Office.” The author was Michele Hanisee, an LA County Deputy District Attorney who happens to be the President of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent that represents more than 1000 Deputy DAs who work in LA County.
She argues that there has been an “attempt to bypass the legislative and initiative process through the installation of elected Deputy District Attorneys who promise to ignore criminal statutes with which they disagree.”
She writes, “This effort has been financed in large part by out of state billionaire George Soros, who solely funds the (misnamed) California Justice and Public Safety PAC.”
The article highlights the races in Sacramento County, San Diego County, Alameda County and, of course, Yolo County.
She writes of Yolo County: “Yolo District Attorney, Jeff Reisig, is an experienced, respected, thoughtful and innovative District Attorney which earned him the endorsement of the Sacramento Bee.”
During his term, she says he has:
- Implemented a multi-cultural community council.
- Started the state’s second neighborhood court program.
- Helped create Yolo’s first Mental Health Court.
- Helped create a Homeless Neighborhood Court.
- Was the first DA in the state to provide implicit bias training.
She then writes: “His Soros-backed opponent, Dean Johansson, has been accused of domestic violence, as revealed by police reports obtained by Crime Victims United, stemming from a 2007 incident in which he allegedly kicked his minor son in the chest and pulled his daughter out of the house by her hair. He has pledged on his website to stop seeking the death penalty.”
Aside from repeating the largely discredited police account from 2007, there is another big problem: THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT MR. JOHANSSON IS BACKED BY SOROS.
I was immediately skeptical so I went to the Campaign Disclosure Statement that was filed on Thursday. It shows that Dean Johansson has raised a whopping $60,000 (just under) for the entire campaign as of May 19. None of that money appears to be coming from Soros.
Some money has come in, in the last week, as they try to get enough money for a mailer and some campaign ads. But a lot of that came from Dean Johansson himself.
His opponent, on the other hand, has raised over $100,000 this year and he began with $72,000 in the bank (more than Mr. Johansson has raised in total).
The spending tells the tale. Dean Johansson has been outspent nearly 3 to 1. Mr. Johansson has spent $52,000 compared to $140,000 by Jeff Reisig.
Just to be sure, we asked Dean Johansson if his campaign was receiving Soros money. He practically fell out of his chair.
“I would not have this Visa bill if I did,” he said. “See our disclosure and see where I’ve been paying non-refundable money of my own. Not a single person (campaign staff) is paid.
“Where is that Soros money?” he asked. “We might be up to $60K and that is already spent. Everything has been volunteer except for some of the money for a camera person which is minimal. All the media and everything else is volunteer.”
That is the part that the Deputy DA Association is missing – whatever she thinks of the campaign, it is the very definition of grassroots. According to the campaign they have had more than 500 volunteers. They have had more than 50 people walking precincts.
They are sending out handwritten postcards to voters rather than slickly produced brochures. If they win – still probably considered a longshot – it will not be because of outside money, it will be because the message of the campaign, changing the criminal justice system, resonated with the voters.
The Vanguard emailed Michele Hanisee late on Friday afternoon to ask her to substantiate the claim that the Johansson campaign was Soros-backed. At the time of publication, the Vanguard has received no response.
—David M. Greenwald reporting