A group representing more than 800 Los Angeles prosecutors invited their boss to defend himself from a petition seeking to oust him in a recall election. He declined.
Democratic L.A. District Attorney George Gascon’s own deputies slammed him for blowing them off at a virtual town hall event at which they’d asked him to explain why he shouldn’t be recalled Wednesday. They also wanted to ask him questions about “his policies and decisions.”
They had invited him last week and asked for a response by 1 p.m. Wednesday – which they received at 12:23 p.m. The deputies also accused Gascon of rarely actually showing up to work and of violating the public’s trust.
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“The District Attorney ran on a promise of transparency,” the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) said in a statement. “It is clear from his actions today that this promise was merely a political platitude. Unfortunately, his refusal to meet with his own deputies is consistent with the secrecy with which he manages his administration.”
In response to an inquiry about the ADDA’s criticisms, Gascon’s office provided a copy of a letter he sent to ADDA President Michele Hanisee earlier Wednesday.
“I am not ignorant to the fact that there are those who vehemently oppose my philosophy and ideology when it comes to how the criminal legal system should operate,” Gascon wrote. “Before I was elected to this position by over 2 million residents of Los Angeles County, a false narrative about me began, and it has continued ever since.”
He dismissed criticisms of his approach to the office as “fear tactics.”
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“The issues raised in the invitational letter appear political and have nothing to do with improving the working conditions of the individuals your board represents,” Gascon added. “I was elected not only to serve the public, but to be a good steward to the dedicated [deputy district attorneys] in this office.”
To that end, he touted the dozens of promotions and new hires in the office over the past year.
Gascon, who became DA in 2020, is facing a second recall petition as critics paint him as a soft-on-crime activist and his own deputies accuse him of failing to uphold the responsibilities of his office.
The ADDA plans to vote internally by secret ballot later this month on the recall question.
“Already, more than 30 cities within Los Angeles County issued votes of no confidence in the District Attorney,” the ADDA said in a statement. “In addition, multiple cities are exploring options to avoid Gascon’s no prosecution policy on quality-of-life crimes.”
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Faith in Gascon’s willingness and ability to prosecute crimes is so low that the county sheriff recently bypassed his office and asked federal authorities to handle the case against three alleged gang members and another person accused of killing off-duty LAPD Officer Fernando Arroyos last month.
“I have no confidence in what the local D.A., George Gascon, is going to do,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva told Fox News in mid-January. “His deputy district attorney and the Crimes Against Peace Officers unit appeared on the scene of the shooting of Fernando Arroyos’ very tragic murder, and they were fully briefed.”
Villanueva said the Gascon’s office expressed “no interest” in pursuing enhanced charges for gang involvement or weapons used in the crime.
“That is just not acceptable,” he said.
Desiree Andrade and Tania Owen, organizers of the new recall effort, said in a statement that residents “are sick and tired of living in the pro-criminal paradise that Gascon has created.”
Both the city and county of Los Angeles have seen staggering spikes in homicides – as well as serial smash-and-grab and follow-home robberies that have residents and business owners alike in fear.
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Gascon’s decision not to prosecutor a 26-year-old child molester as an adult also drew uproar two weeks ago – when a court ruled that the defendant, who began identifying as a woman only after being arrested for a cold-case attack on a 10-year-old female, would serve time in a juvenile facility alongside girls.
The first petition failed to reach enough signatures by its Oct. 26, 2021, deadline.
The second effort will require organizers to gather about 567,000 signatures by July 6 – about 10% of the registered voters in Los Angeles County.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and Bailee Hill contributed to this report.