By David M. Greenwald
Woodland, CA – When I recently attended the League of Women Voters forum up in Woodland featuring the two candidates for Yolo DA – incumbent Jeff Reisig and challenger Cynthia Rodriguez – I was struck as I panned the audience and took photos of the crowd just how many people there were either current or former Deputy DA’s or law enforcement.
Some of you will argue that there is nothing wrong with that, that the people who work with Reisig every day support him. Others of you will see it more skeptically wondering how deep into the community the support for Reisig goes and questioning whether a cozy relationship between the DA and law enforcement itself represents a conflict.
I’m not here to weigh in on that point. That is a decision that every voter must make for themselves.
For his part, Reisig does not shy away from the relationship.
Reisig at the forum pointed out, “I am the chief law enforcement officer. That means every single day, my job is to work in collaboration with the law enforcement officers around the county. Imagine if I had a terrible relationship or if I pronounced on day one, I’m going prosecute every one of you, it’s not going to go very well, i.e. San Francisco, Los Angeles.”
He added, “I have very strong relationships with police officers.”
One thing I have noticed is that if you read the large number of letters of support for Reisig, many of them are current and former employees or otherwise law enforcement.
Since April 1, the Enterprise has published 26 letters that support Reisig.
A large percentage of them have worked either for or with the DA.
So here are some examples.
Garrett Hamilton, Supervising DA writes, “I have worked for Jeff Reisig for 14 years.”
David Akulian, now in Washington, wrote, “I formerly worked with Jeff as a colleague and worked for him after he was first elected.”
Retired Sgt Dean Nyland, “I proudly served the County of Yolo for 14 years. Employed at the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, I recently retired at the rank of sergeant.”
Retired Fire Chief Bill Weisgerber, “I have been a public safety professional for nearly 50 years, working closely with hundreds of colleagues in the public safety space, and Jeff Reisig rises to the top as a DA of integrity and principle.”
Jay Linden, a former Deputy DA, “I had the privilege to serve as a prosecutor for the Yolo County District Attorney’s office for 21 years.”
Craig Meyers, “I encourage all Yolo County voters to join me in supporting Jeff Reisig this June as he pursues another term as district attorney. I have known Jeff for over 20 years and have worked closely with him and his office.”
Dan Stroski, former DA Investigator: “I began my career in law enforcement with the Woodland Police Department. After a collective 31 years, I retired in 2012. I worked for both David C. Henderson and Jeff Reisig during my last eighteen years at the Office of District Attorney.”
Pattie Fong, retired Deputy DA, “I have been a deputy district attorney for Yolo County for 30-plus years, most recently as a retired volunteer DDA and I live in Davis. I have seen Jeff in action his entire Yolo County career.”
Among some of the others, Former Davis Councilmember Ted Puntillo, Former State Senator Lois Wolk, several members of his Multi Cultural Community Council, former School Board Member Gina Daleiden, whose organization First Five Yolo just received a huge grant from the DA’s office from confiscated drugs. And several defense attorneys.
But it’s not just letters to the editor.
On NextDoor for example Jonathan Raven – basically the No. 2 guy in the DA’s office, posted an attack piece against Cynthia Rodriguez.
“I want to share some information and facts with everyone. First, you are all my Davis peeps. This discussion is not a bunch of lies. As some may know, I’m the chief deputy so please factor that in to what I’m gonna share. But I’m gonna do my honest best to the present the evidence.”
He continued, “This will not be short because there’s much to share. I don’t know Cynthia Rodriguez and I’m sure she’s well meaning. I think if you asked her supporters to ask what they wanted from a DA, 95% of the things they want would be what we already are doing…”
And then there is the money as we have previously analyzed – a huge percentage of money has come from groups that are either police unions or current or former Deputy DAs.
There has long been a concern about the conflict between DAs working closely with law enforcement, taking money and support from police groups and then being asked to investigate potential police misconduct.
In 2020 and 2021, the Prosecutor’s Alliance for instance sponsored legislation and asked the California Bar Association saying the contributions represent a conflict of interest.
“Elected prosecutors that accept financial contributions from law enforcement associations cannot escape the conflict of interest that exists when they inevitably lead investigations into the members of those organizations,” claimed Cristine Soto Deberry, executive director of the Prosecutors Alliance of California. “Even where police act appropriately and within the confines of the law, that conflict undermines trust and casts a shadow of uncertainty over decisions not to charge officers in critical incidents.”
Not everyone agrees of course.
During legislation hearings last year, one of the groups that opposed SB 710 that would require DA’s investigating or charging a peace officer with a crime that have accepted money from the officer’s union to recuse themselves.
The chief opponent: The California District Attorneys Association. Who is President of the California District Attorneys Association? Jeff Reisig.
“This bill singles out DAs among all elected officials as being incapable of reconciling their ethical duties with having received political support,” Larry Morse testified on behalf of the DA association. “Why would DAs be held to a different standard than members of the California Legislature, many of whom routinely solicit significant campaign contributions from a vast array of special interest groups that have business in the Legislature?”
The voters can decide for themselves if that’s a good thing or bad thing.