DPOA Gives Reisig $16,000 in May
The initial campaign filing by incumbent District Attorney Jeff Reisig did not show a tremendous amount of money – he only raised $32,700 between January 1 and April 21. However, he began that time with about $85,000 cash on hand, which put him in a position of having a nearly $73,000 cash balance at the end of the filing period.
However, since that time, law enforcement and some of the deputy DAs have started to recognize the threat that Dean Johansson’s non-traditional campaign poses to the incumbent.
That is most notable in the actions of the Davis Police Officers Association, which clearly views Dean Johansson as some sort of existential threat. On March 1 they are listed as making a $500 donation to the Reisig campaign through their PAC.
But since that filing, the Reisig campaign has filed nine 24-hour contribution reports. In less than three weeks he has raised $35,500 just in those contributions.
Where is the money coming from? DPOA, in addition to their $500 contribution, has made a $2000 contribution and now on May 5, a $14,000 contribution.
Law enforcement sees Mr. Johansson as a clear threat, as the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) donated $5000.
Deputy DAs and former deputy DAs are also pumping money in, with Deputy DA Melinda Aiello contributing $2500, Supervising Deputy DA Garrett Hamilton giving $1000, Ann Hurd, the former Chief Deputy DA and wife of retired Judge Steven Mock, giving $1000, and former Deputy DA Robert Trudgen, now in Amador County, giving $1000.
Davis Accountant Vic Bucher gave $1000 and hotel owner Reed Youmans gave $1000 as well.
The biggest chunk of money came from DPOA, which interestingly enough appears to have been the only police officer association to pump in large amounts of money, even though every major one has endorsed the incumbent.
When the incumbent is in trouble, he has the ability to tap into resources that are largely unavailable to Dean Johansson, who is largely running an untraditional grassroots campaign. On Friday night at a rally, he told supporters that more than 500 people have volunteered their time on the campaign.
There are signs that the efforts are working.
Dean Johansson has modeled his candidacy after Philadelphia’s newly-elected DA Larry Krasner. Mr. Krasner assumed the office as a man who cut his teeth as a civil rights attorney. He is a strong proponent of police reform and criminal justice reform.
Mr. Johansson has been surprised by the reception and his insurgent campaign has picked up steam. A Reisig supporter told me last week that they had spoken with a key volunteer for the Reisig campaign who said that when they walk precincts they are amazed by how many people are telling them not to bother talking to them, they are supporting Johansson.
Around the same time, the report from Crime Victims United came out leaking to the public an 11-year-old police report. A few days later, a combination of law enforcement and deputy DAs, along with Supervisor Matt Rexroad, attacked Dean Johansson for failing to salute the flag at the candidates forum, even though he both stood and placed his hand on his heart.
Clearly, a campaign that is promising to more deeply examine and prosecute police abuse and likely to crack down on the activities of some of its deputy DAs, including cleaning house, figures to be a threat to the establishment.
Deputy DA Ryan Couzens has been an outspoken supporter of Jeff Reisig, both in the courtroom and on the campaign trail. It was his letter to the Johansson campaign that seemed to ignite the sign wars. He also signed onto the Pledge of Allegiance letter.
Deputy DA Melinda Aiello was the prosecutor on a key murder trial last year that surprisingly ended in acquittal, even though the defendant had acknowledged firing the weapon that killed a drug dealer in the front seat. The defendant claimed self-defense, and the jury, after listening to the dishonesty of key witnesses including the police, finally acquitted him outright rather than imposing voluntary manslaughter.
Then there is the letter from Deputy DA Frits van der Hoek, who claims that Mr. Reisig is a supporter of bail reform, with nothing on the record showing Mr. Reisig remotely in favor of bail reform.
Mr. van der Hoek writes, “Most people agree that California should move away from its cash bail system. There is no quick fix though, because cash bail is included within California’s constitution. To help unstick this clog, Reisig assigned one of his top prosecutors to work with legislators to reform California’s cash bail system, while managing flight risk and keeping dangerous offenders away from the public.”
Not only is there no record of this, but Jeff Reisig’s office has consistently argued for higher bails, even in cases where bail didn’t make a lot of sense.
For example, in 2016, a man was arrested on possession charges and multiple violations of probation. The probation department recommended that the man be held on bail rather than released on his own recognizance (OR).
The defense attorney argued that the guy has a job, family and ties to the area – he’s not a flight risk. Plus, it’s not a prison case as it is possession of drugs. And, as the defense pointed out, he’s never missed a court appearance. The man had no history of violence.
But the DA on the case argued for bail and the commissioner, Kent O’Mara, told the defense that he was not going to go against probation’s recommendation, so he put a $55,000 bail on him.
What purpose did bail serve here? Talk is cheap.
And then there is Mr. van der Hoek himself. As Dean Johansson becomes more of a threat, we see a lot of deputy DAs coming out to support their boss. Mr. van der Hoek has good reason to do so, because he might not have a job under DA Johansson.
Mr. van der Hoek was sworn in on May 6, 2015. Just over two weeks after the May 6 announcement, Mr. Van der Hoek was officially cleared of his part in the fatal February 2014 shooting death of 38-year-old Antonio Lopez Guzman, just off the campus of San Jose State University, when he was an officer with the San Jose PD.
The shooting has been highly controversial, and Mr. van der Hoek yelled to his partner to “shoot him, shoot!”
Video for the case has not been released, but many challenge the view that the shooting was necessary, pointing out that Mr. Lopez Guzman was shot twice in the back, with the last image showing the victim attempting to get away rather than charging the officer.
Again, after watching the video, Richard Konda, an advocate with the Asian Law Alliance told the media, “I didn’t see him make any aggressive move toward any person.”
Would Mr. van der Hoek keep his job under a new progressive DA? Seems like a good reason to support your current boss.
It seems to fair to say that many of the deputy DAs – all of whom are at-will employees, could have job security issues. At the UC Davis law school candidate’s forum, where only Dean Johansson showed up, Mr. Johansson praised the work of two deputy DAs: “Larry Eichele and Alvina Tzang are two personally that I think are great attorneys. They would be promoted to run the office…”
He had pointed words for most of the rest of the office: “I’ve never seen an office that is more demeaning to defendants and their families in the courtroom. I’ve never seen an office that is more vindictive to other attorneys.”
Mr. Eichele, who briefly put his name in the ring to run for DA, is now said to be fighting to keep his job, even though he had a stellar record for 15 years. The rest of the DAs would seem to be on thin ice if Mr. Johansson succeeds in his campaign.
Clearly, law enforcement, especially the Davis Police Department, view Mr. Johansson as a serious threat and they seem willing to pump in money to the Reisig campaign in an effort to save him. We have three week left in this race and we will see how this unfolds.
—David M. Greenwald reporting