Confident that voter apathy would assure his reelection on June 5, Sheriff McDonnell has spent the last year feeling that needing to make his case for another four years was beneath him. He has no apparent campaign team or events, no platform (beyond more of the same), he’s blown off all candidate debates, his website remains terrible, and we honestly have not seen a single bumper sticker, yard sign or other evidence of voter enthusiasm for him anywhere, countywide, at-all.
“Incumbent Los Angeles County sheriffs are generally unassailable at reelection time, boasting a clear advantage in name recognition and fundraising prowess,” the LA Times recently wrote. “Yet McDonnell’s challengers have done remarkably well.”
Rocked by Alex Villanueva’s locking up the endorsement of Los Angeles County Democrats and many neighborhood Democratic clubs, and Bob Lindsey’s both beating him in fundraising and supporter enthusiasm, as well as gaining the endorsements of many who backed McDonnell four years ago, McDonnell has begun to panic. After all, a half million dollars per year is on the line!
How else to explain his obviously using LASD resources to campaign in recent weeks and, in particular, over the last several days:
- As of this article, virtually all of LASD’s 30-ish Facebook accounts are touting crime stats that make the sheriff look good (even if they disingenuously hide the fact that crime has risen significantly).
- The LASD’s official Twitter account has had 34 things to say about how awesome things are in just the last three days.
- LASD’s over 20 additional Twitter accounts (@SEBLASD, @SouthLALASD, etc.) are parroting the sheriff’s tweets, reaching over 157,000 users and a half a million impressions today alone.
- He is holding (and crashing) more press conferences.
- Including press conferences (and tweets about press conferences) about the arrest of a single murder suspect in an affluent area (who was released for lack of evidence two days later), while murders in lower-income areas get no such attention.
- We know from our sources in the mainstream media and in the department that the sheriff is withholding responses to lawful public record requests, as well as announcing bad news, until after the election. Clearly departmental resources are involved in shamalaming this.
- Who wrote the sheriff’s responses to this ACLU election questionnaire? It’s clearly not written in his style. (He’s refused to participate in any actual debates themselves.)
- It has also been brought to our attention that McDonnell is using his $100,000+ luxury, county-owned and operated SUV, driven by deputies at a cost of approximately $2 million per year, to travel to events of a political nature.
- Such as his appearance before ALADS last fall, to which he was driven in his luxury SUV and for which there is no evidence the taxpayers were reimbursed. This behavior was so expected that a deputy thought to record it at the time. Don’t believe us? Here’s a video (voice altered to protect the innocent):
- And as we reported Friday, the department is also intimidating department members from sharing information with the community.
- These scare tactics are noteworthy as they come after McDonnell has been embarrassed for the reporting of facts he has hidden from the community. Yet where were these admonishments to keep quiet about internal business when the list of deputies supposedly on the Brady List was leaked to the LA Times?
- And what ever happened to PPOA President Brian Moriguchi’s demand for an investigation into the matter, including whether McDonnell’s lawyers or PR team (none of whom have ever been deputy sheriffs) were responsible?
- Max Huntsman, has the Office of the Inspector General looked into this? Anyone…?
- Oh, and one more thing. Sheriff’s Information Bureau emailed all personnel Saturday telling them not to believe “rumors” they may have heard which have “no basis at all” that the department would reduce purchasing safer vehicles or bulletproof vests. They also put it out over Twitter.The source of this rumor? The Los Angeles Times, which reported: “To help close a $40 million budget gap, the department plans to limit spending on services and supplies, including bulletproof vests and patrol cars.”
- Looking forward to seeing if the LA Times publishes a correction…or if this is just more of the sheriff’s electioneering spin.
Let’s cut to the chase. Here’s the thing. It’s illegal for the sheriff to use taxpayer resources–including Sheriff’s Information Bureau–to campaign for office. And, as we saw under the last sheriff, it’s illegal for department members to commit crimes on the sheriff’s behalf. It makes no difference if they were told to–just following orders.
LASD.News encourages local media outlets to file public record requests with the LASD regarding the recent increase in the sheriff’s use of county PR resources, including access to the emails of his spinmeister Carol Lin and PIO Nicole Nishida, which might also shed a light into whether the sheriff’s response to the Rolling Hills homicide has been politically motivated. And perhaps while you’re at it, you might also ask for the sheriff’s schedule, a log of which vehicle he used to get to political events, and any records that his campaign reimbursed the county for the political use of taxpayer dollars.