Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Contra Costa voters re-elect Sheriff Livingston, DA Becton, Assessor Kramer

Wednesday, June 8th, 2022

Results for the Contra Costa DA and Sheriff’s races as of early Wednesday, June 8, 2022, showing Becton and Livingston winning. Source: CoCoVote.us

One billionaire Soros-backed progressive DA wins, two other progressive DA’s lose in the state Tuesday night; in County Clerk’s race it’s Connelly vs. Gordon; Pleasant Hill Councilman Carlson, BART Director Allen leading in 4th Supe District race; only 18% turnout; ballots mailed by election day can still be received until next Tuesday

Sheriff Livingston checks the voting results at the DSA Election Night Watch Party Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Photo: Allen D. Payton

By Allen D. Payton

Following an election season filled with attacks, accusations and over $1 million spent in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s race, the incumbents, Sheriff David Livingston and DA Diana Becton, along with County Assessor Gus Kramer were each re-elected by wide margins, Tuesday night. They were the only countywide incumbents facing challengers, this year in an election that only saw a 17.95% voter turnout, so far. Incumbent county Treasurer-Tax Collector Russell Watts, Auditor-Controller Robert Campbell and County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey were re-elected without facing opposition.

In the only other contested countywide race, for County Clerk-Recorder, Kristin Connelly will face former Community College Board Trustee Vicki Gordon in a November run-off. In the races for county supervisor, District 1 incumbent, John Gioia was re-elected easily beating his opponent, Hulan Barnett, Jr. 15,018 votes to 2,800, and in District 4, Pleasant Hill Councilman Ken Carlson who and BART Board Director Debora Allen are leading. Allen was trailing Concord Councilwoman Carlyn Obringer by 211 votes until late in the evening, when she pulled into second place by 389 votes. Carlson is leading Allen by 569 votes. The top two candidates will face off in the November run-off.

Sheriff Livingston and Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox with former Martinez Councilman Mike Menesini and another supporter at the DSA Election Night Watch Party, Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Photo: Allen D. Payton

When reached for comment Allen said, “I’m not declaring victory at this point because there are still ballots to count.”

In the biggest battle in the county, Becton was re-elected to her second, full, four-year term beating Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox, a 37-year prosecutor, by 56% to 44% with 63,147 votes against 49,599 for Knox. Becton was the beneficiary of $1 million spent by an independent expenditure committee campaign supporting her and opposing Knox, with the majority of funds contributed by out-of-state billionaire George Soros. (See related articles here and here)

The same night a Soros-backed, progressive district attorney was re-elected in Contra Costa, another progressive D.A. in San Francisco, Chesa Boudin was recalled by voters in that city and county who had enough with his policies. Becton and Boudin have been part of the Prosecutors Alliance of California, along with L.A. County D.A. George Gascon who is also facing a possible recall, and San Joaquin County D.A. Tori Verber Salazar, who was losing for re-election according to the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters website as of Wednesday.

In the other hard fought countywide race, Livingston was re-elected to his fourth term as sheriff beating Richmond Police Officer Ben Therriault by an even wider margin, 61.2% to 38.8% with 67,906 votes to 43,125 for the challenger.

Attempts to reach Livingston and Becton for comment about their victories were unsuccessful prior to publication time.

County Assessor Kramer eased to another victory for his eighth term, beating his only opponent Floy Andrews by 57.6% to 42.4% with 63,164 votes to 46,456 for the challenger.

When reached for comment Kramer said, “I am on bended knee thanking the voters for seeing through the garbage in the East Bay Times, having faith in me and re-electing me for another four years. The citizens have spoken, the people for whom I serve. This is not a victory for me but for the property owners in the county.”

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer celebrates his re-election with supporters at the DSA Election Night Watch Party, Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Photo: Allen D. Payton

Livingston, Knox and Kramer attended the Election Night Watch Party at the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association Hall in Martinez, waiting for the updates and speaking with their supporters.

In the Clerk-Recorder’s race, Connelly is in first place with 34,049 votes, Gordon is in second with 24,152 votes and is ahead of Pinole Councilman Devin Murphy by 3,781 votes.

Asked for a comment on the election results Gordon said, “The first thing I want to say is to thank all my supporters, people who donated and walked. I want to thank everyone for their support, it was grassroots effort. My husband and family were also amazing.”

“I am honored to move on to November,” she added.

The countywide Measure G which continues the $2 per car fee to pay for picking up abandoned vehicles and required a two-thirds vote is passing with 68.7% of the vote, with 79,126 in favor to 35,978 opposed.

The only other measure on the ballot was in Martinez. Measure F, also requiring a two-thirds vote to pass, is barely failing with 65.9%. If passed, the measure would add a $79 annual parcel tax for the next 30 years to preserve open space and a ridgeline, allowing the City of Martinez to purchase the 297-acre Alhambra Highlands.

The Contra Costa Elections Division can still receive ballots that were mailed by Tuesday for up to seven days after the election, according to executive secretary, Melissa Hickok, who said she read it straight from the Secretary of State’s website. They have up to 28 days to certify the election.

This year, voters who went to the polls didn’t put their own ballots into the counting machines, as has been done in the past.

“Contra Costa County has returned to a central count, instead of having hundreds of counters at all the polling places, we bring all the ballots back and run them through the high-speed scanners at the Elections Office,” Hickok explained.

That resulted in updates of the results on election night to take longer than in the past.

The next update is expected this Friday, June 10 at 5:00 p.m. For more information visit CoCoVote.us.

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One organizer of failed Thorpe recall answers questions about, identifies Michigan man accused of stealing funds, signatures

Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

Other organizers respond to additional questions, but not committee treasurer or assistant treasurer

“Tom (Hartrick) told me that the police advised him it’s a civil matter, not criminal. I was told that a police report was not filed.” – Kathy Cabrera, recall organizer

By Allen D. Payton

Since it was announced on May 11 that the recall of Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe failed, leaders of the official campaign committee and effort have refused to answer questions, until now. But some have still gone unanswered. Recall organizer claims it failed due to the theft of the committee’s funds and the estimated 11,000 signatures gathered, more than enough to force him to the ballot. (See related article)

According to one of the organizers, Kathy Cabrera, who served Thorpe with his recall petition on Sept. 24, 2021, the contractor who the committee hired and is accused of stealing $23,000 they paid him, plus signatures for both Thorpe’s and City Clerk Ellie Householder’s recalls is Bryan Schafer of Saginaw, Michigan and his company Blitz Canvassing. He and his associate, Kim Ridley of Flint, Michigan led the paid portion of the signature gathering effort. (See related articles here and here.)

An online search for Blitz Canvassing resulted in a website for a company by that name, which claims “to working major signature collection programs in Indiana, Arkansas, Nevada, Michigan and Maine.” But neither Schafer’s nor Ridley’s photos or names appear on it.

While the committee issued a statement on May 11, the deadline for submitting the signatures, it left many questions unanswered. According to the Form 410 filed by the Committee to Recall Mayor Lamar Thorpe on March 24, 2022, the principal officer was Clarke Wilson, one of the 20 proponents who signed the recall notice, who served as the titular head of the committee and is the husband of another recall proponent and outspoken critic of Thorpe, Velma Wilson. In addition, the report shows James Pringle served as the treasurer and Tom Hartrick as the assistant treasurer.  Committee to Recall Thorpe 410

Questions for Organizers

They, and other recall organizers, including Cabrera, Lindsey Amezcua and Arne Simsonsen, were sent the following questions on May 12 and again on May 20:

“What was the name of the company you paid? What is the man’s name who is the head of the company, please? Tom told me he left the state and went back to, I believe he said Michigan. Is that true? If so, how do you know that, who told you?

I’ve also been told that man was renting a home in Pittsburg and left his girlfriend behind, as well. Is that true?

Where or how did you find the company that you hired? Who recommended them to you?

What kind of track record do they have? Do you know if they lean left or right politically?

Can you please provide a copy of the contract?

Who has access to the committee’s bank account? Would that be Treasurer James Pringle, Assistant Treasurer Tom Hartrick and Principal Officer Clarke Wilson? Anyone else?

Did the signature gathering company also take the signature petitions for Householder’s recall? Or is that effort continuing?

Is there some legal remedy or recourse you can take since Ellie has a clear conflict of interest in denying the extension? Can it be appealed to a judge, the county clerk or Secretary of State?

What actions are being taken other than filing a police report? Do you have a copy of it that you can provide?

Will you start over trying to recall Thorpe in six months?”

The group was also asked who was included in the meeting when the recall signature gathering company was hired.

Today, they were also asked about the discrepancy between the company name Schafer gave and the one with the same name with the website mentioned above on which neither he nor his associate appear.

Simonsen Responds

Simonsen responded on May 12 with, “I can only answer one of your questions: Can it be appealed to a judge, the county clerk or Secretary of State? Once the filing date has passed, there is no recourse to a Judge. The County Clerk and the Secretary of State have no role in a municipal recall, initiative or ballot measure. The City Clerk is the final authority as the Elections Official unless you take the City Clerk to Court (and that would have to be prior to the filing date with a Writ of Mandamus).”

Simonsen was also asked on May 28, if the recall can restart sooner than six months since the signatures were not turned in to the city clerk. He responded that day, “I will double check, but I am sure that once the petitions are approved for circulation that the six months kick in.”

Amezcua Responds

Amezcua responded via text on May 12 writing, “At the moment, I have no desire to start over.  I do not know if there is a waiting period. I am not on the bank account. I was not at the interview when the company was hired. I did not write the press release. I’m sure you know me well enough by now to know I have no desire to be a spokesperson.”

“I was not involved in Tuesday’s conversation, so I cannot speak on what was/was not requested,” she continued.

“I personally am feeling an immensely heavy feeling of letting down everyone that was counting on us and have largely ignored my phone and social media,” Amezcua added.

Velma Wilson Responds for Her Husband

Velma Wilson said her husband Clarke just agreed to add his name as chairman of the recall, but the others didn’t include him in the decision making. “So, he doesn’t know” she said about the answers to the questions he was also asked.

Cabrera Provides More Details

Cabrera, who was also part of the discussion about the press release that was issued on May 11, responded to the questions she said she could answer on Tuesday, June 7.

Asked if any background check was done on Schafer, his company, and his associate Kim, Cabrera said, “yes and nothing came up. No criminal records. He had one trespassing complaint against him in Contra Costa County but that’s to be expected in his line of work.”

Asked about filing a police report she responded, “Tom (Hartrick) told me that the police advised him it’s a civil matter, not criminal. I was told that a police report was not filed. Why? I don’t know. That’s just what I was told. I was further advised that the process would require the hiring of a PI and Attorney and there are no more funds to do that.”

Asked who hired the contractor, Cabrera replied, “As far as I know it was a group effort. We had interviewed several different companies. This one was referred to us. Bryan was with the company that did the Newsom recall. I don’t know what was discussed as far as terms and conditions. It was just decided.”

“I gathered the information,” she continued. “I was calling around asking what services they provide, and what was the cost. I brought it back to the group and they made a decision.”

Asked if it was a group vote, Cabrera said, “yes. I personally wanted to go with another company. But the other companies said they didn’t have the time to take it on. This company did.”

As for which organizer handled what responsibility she said, “Lindsey handled the petitions and Tom was in charge of issuing the funds. I wasn’t on any bank accounts. I was a worker bee.”

Cabrera shared more about the paid contractors saying, “Kim had mentioned that she was working with West Coast Petitions out of Walnut Creek. But Bryan pulled her into the effort on the Thorpe recall.”

Asked if they were in a relationship and living in Pittsburg, and if Schafer took off and left Ridley behind as had been shared with the Herald by an Antioch resident, Cabrera responded, “No. She’s not his girlfriend. Kim’s married. They travel to where the work is, which is not unusual. It’s my understanding most of those being paid to gather signatures came from other areas, too. He rented a house in Pittsburg where the pro-signers were staying. It was an Air BnB. Supposedly, the landlord knew him, and they rented it month-to-month.”

Asked if Kim is still around and if, Cabrera said, “no. Bryan did take off to Michigan and left Kim behind she told Lindsey. But it’s my understanding she went to Monterey to work on the next job. That’s the last I heard.”

“Lindsey was trying to contact Bryan and Kim, the week the signatures were due. But they weren’t responding, from what I was told,” Cabrera continued. “We had someone go by the house in Pittsburg looking for them. A clean-up crew was there and said they all had left.”

“This is not what any of us wanted especially the estimated six people who busted their ass for months trying to get the signatures to get the recall on the ballot,” Cabrera added. “The solid six not only gave their money, but gave all of their time collecting signatures, attending council meetings, making the public aware, and anything and everything possible to make the recall happen.”

“There’s no plan to restart the recall at this time,” she stated. “I am just waiting to see what happens in November with the Districts 1 and 4 council elections.”

Attempts to reach Schafer for this article, using the 510-area phone number for him that is still active, were unsuccessful.

Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer Refuse to Respond

Neither Pringle nor Hartrick responded as of publication time.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Effort to recall Antioch City Clerk Householder ends failing to gather enough signatures

Monday, June 6th, 2022

Part of signatures organizers claim were stolen by paid contractor with those for Thorpe’s recall along with money to pay professional petitioners

By Allen D. Payton

The Committee for the Recall Antioch City Clerk Ellie Householder announced today, Monday, June 6, 2022, “that the required numbers of signatures for the recall were not collected” on the day of the deadline for submitting the 9,521 signatures of registered voters in the city required to place Householder’s name on the ballot. The effort to recall her from the Antioch School Board ended in early April. (See related article)

It follows on the heels of the failure of the recall effort against Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe, last month, due to the alleged theft of the funds paid to the contractor to gather signatures and the signatures that had already been gathered. The leaders claimed they had gathered more than enough signatures to place Thorpe’s name on the ballot. (See related article)

Householder was served with recall papers to remove her from her position as city clerk on Nov. 30, 2021 and signature gathering began at the end of December. (See related articles here and here)

The committee’s statement offered an explanation for the failure of the Householder recall. It continues as follows:

The majority of Antioch citizens coming out to sign were focused on one thing, the Antioch Mayor Recall Lamar Thorpe petition. Many of the signers had simply never heard of Householder.

The primary reason for the Antioch City Clerk recall was to provide an incentive for Clerk Householder to correctly and efficiently handle the processing of the petition for the Recall Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe Petition; that objective was eventually achieved.

The petition for the City Clerk reads, “The grounds for the recall are as follows: You violated the California Public Records Act (Government Code 6253) by failing to provide a copy of a public document to the records department at Antioch City Hall and thus hindered a constituent from their right to inspect a public record. You rejected the first drafted petition to recall the Antioch mayor without including a statement of what alterations to the petition were necessary (Elections Code 11042(c)). You then rejected a second petition citing election code 107(b), which is not applicable to the recall effort. You ignored the proponents request to send your findings via email, instead choosing to send them via certified mail at a cost to the city and cited elections code 11224 as your reason to not email them. Election code 11224 refers to the certification process of approved petitions that have already been signed by registered voters and was erroneously cited. You omitted emails from a Public Records Request, once again violating the California Public Records Act. This misuse and misapplication of Election Codes and continued violations of Government Code 6253 illustrates your inability to do the job in which you were elected and warrants your removal.”

The mayor’s recall petition was first filed on September 24, 2021 and approved more than two months later on December 2, 2021. While the proponents of the Mayor’s Recall did make an error on the first filing, Clerk Householder used the full ten days, allowed by California Elections Code, to respond to their resubmission by US Postal Service. To extend the response timeline further, she the response was mailed on the afternoon of the 10th day by certified mail, even though the main proponent asked for a response by email. She continued to use the same process on the second and third filing, until she was served with her own Recall Petition. On the fourth filing, although she had a question regarding the intention to form a Campaign Finance Committee, not required to be in the filing, she called the main proponent for the answer and once it was provided, she verbally approved the petition and followed it up by an official email. The delay tactics ensured that the mayor’s recall petition was delayed again and again.

The relationship between the Clerk and the Mayor is well known, as showcased in a Thorpe/Householder TikTok video. The text overlay reads, “When the Mayor and City Clerk have each other’s back.” In it, Thorpe and Householder are seen standing next to each other behind the council dais, while he points to her and himself, mouths the words of a speaker saying “she’s my best friend. You mess with her, you mess with me, you mess with me, you mess with her. You mess with us, you better pray and run.” Watch the video on this link: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CdHkYhVDUIn/ (See related article)

Householder is the first elected official to be the subject of two local recalls. First as an Antioch Unified School Board Trustee and then as Antioch’s City Clerk. She is now the first elected official to not have two recall processes completed, but both recalls achieved their objective by holding her publicly accountable for her actions and misuse of power. It is hoped that the effort has helped Clerk Householder to understand that despite the close personal relationship she and Mayor Lamar Thorpe enjoy, she is expected to consider the relationship with her constituents to be her primary focus.

——————————-

Questions for Committee

The following questions were sent to Diane Gibson-Gray, one of the proponents for Householder’s recall. How many signatures were gathered for Householder’s recall? She responded, “I was not involved in the signature tally and I do not have that information.”

Gibson-Gray was also asked if some of the signatures gathered for Householder’s recall part of those the paid contractor stole and didn’t provide to the committee. She responded, “The paid signature gathers included Householder’s petition when gathering signatures for Thorpe in the hope that the Recall Antioch City Clerk Ellie Householder efforts would include fundraising, which did not occur. A Campaign Finance Committee was not formed as the $2,000 threshold for funds raised / expenses paid was not met.”

Recall organizers, Lindsey Amezcua was then asked if she knew how many signatures were gathered for Householder’s recall.

Amezcua responded, “only around 5,000 were collected. No one really put in the effort after the debacle with Thorpe’s (recall).”

She was also asked if the signatures for Householder’s recall were among those the contractor is accused of stealing. Amezcua responded, “Yes, the pro’s had pages for the clerk recall as well, that weren’t handed over. But they weren’t paid for any, so I can’t tell you how many they had.”

Householder chose to not respond to an effort asking if she had any comment about the committee’s announcement prior to publication time.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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In person voting on Tuesday is an option 

Friday, June 3rd, 2022

While all active registered voters throughout California receive Vote by Mail (VBM) ballots, voters still have the option of voting in person on or before Election Day. Your County Elections Office is open for in-person voting beginning 29 days before the election and voters can cast their ballots in person up to and including Election Day.

To locate your designated polling place in Contra Costa County, use the My Voting Information tool or check the back cover of the Voter Information Guide mailed to you. The polls are open from 7am until 8pm.

Lynda Roberts, Marin County Registrar of Voters comments, “Voters should be familiar with their voting options in their county. Your County Voter Information Guide has a lot of great, detailed information about your voting options, times and locations. County websites are also a quick and easy way to get more information about in-person voting in your county.”

All election processes and procedures are open to the public for observation.

For more local information, go to your local county election official, who is your trusted source of nonpartisan election information.  Information on this topic as well as direct links to local elections offices can be found on our website, BayAreaVotes.org, or our Facebook page, Bay Area Votes.

A detailed Fact Sheet on In-Person Voting can be found on the webpage under Just the Facts.

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Billionaire Soros, special interests dump $1 million into Contra Costa DA’s race to support Becton, defeat Knox

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

From pages 1 and 3 of the CA Justice & Public Safety PAC 496 report dated May 28, 2022, showing the $489,200 spent against Knox and $652,000 contributed by Soros. Source: Netfile.com

Including $510,000 more in attack ads against Knox; Soros contributes $652,000

“This money will not drown out the voices of the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of local donors who have worked tirelessly side-by-side with me over the past 11 months to spread our campaign’s message…” – Deputy D.A. Mary Knox

By Allen D. Payton

The Washington, D.C.-based PAC funded by billionaire George Soros has received just over $1 million to help re-elect incumbent Contra Costa D.A. Diana Becton and defeat her challenger, Deputy D.A. Mary Knox. According to two campaign finance reports on Netfile.com submitted by the California Justice & Public Safety PAC date May 28, Soros contributed $652,000, the Smart Justice California Action Fund contributed $300,000 and M. Quinn Delaney of Piedmont contributed $50,000.

According to their website, Smart Justice California is “an alliance of donors and funders…helping to change the belief that prosecutors must be incarceration-driven by engaging voters and establishing a statewide candidate pipeline of justice reform champions.”

The report lists Delaney as retired. But according to the organization’s website, she “is the Founder and Board Chair of Akonadi Foundation, which supports the development of powerful social change movements to eliminate structural racism and create a racially just society. The Foundation funds primarily in Oakland with a focus on ending the criminalization of people of color.”

6/2/22 UPDATE & CORRECTION: That brings the total received by the PAC to $1,002,000 in the race, so far. (See related article)

It was previously reported that the $1 million in contributions was in addition to over $400,000 previously spent according to the PAC’s Form 496 reports dated May 14 for a total of more than $1.4 million in contributions. However, according to Alex Navarro-Mckay of New York-based Berlin Rosen campaigns said, “when the $400,000 was spent the PAC was incurring liabilities.” Asked when the ads started running, he responded, “right around there. May 13 or 14.”

That means the PAC spent over $400,000 on negative, digital attack ads against Knox before the funds were received on May 17, 26 and 27. Most media companies require political campaigns to pay in advance.

Of the latest amount received, almost $500,000 was spent on negative attack ads against Knox and another $10,050 was spent for digital ads against her. The PAC only spent $34,900 on digital ads to support Becton.

In response to those contributions and expenditures to defeat her, Knox released the following statement:

“An out-of-state billionaire along with special interest groups have now dropped an unprecedented $1M to defeat my campaign and influence voters for District Attorney in this local election.  Contra Costa voters will determine the outcome of this election and the future of public safety in Contra Costa County. This money will not drown out the voices of the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of local donors who have worked tirelessly side-by-side with me over the past 11 months to spread our campaign’s message,” said. “I have served this community for 37 years as a prosecutor. The bottom line is this, people in our community want to feel safe in their neighborhoods. Every day I talk to voters who are frustrated with D.A. Becton and want to see their District Attorney focused on public safety and crime reduction.”

As previously reported, Becton was asked if it is good to have so much out-of-county and out-of-state funds spent to influence an election in Contra Costa County, but she did not respond. Becton was also the beneficiary of spending by Soros during her first election campaign in 2018. (See related article)

Knox has served as a prosecutor in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office for 37 years and has extensive trial experience. Knox has earned the endorsement of every law enforcement agency in the County, as well as state and local organizations such as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, PORAC, the California Narcotics Officers Association and the California Gang Investigators Association. Mary has advanced social justice while preventing crime in Contra Costa County.  She brought anti-bias training to the District Attorney’s Office and has fought to end discrimination against women in the Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s Office.

Knox and Becton are the only candidates running for election as District Attorney.  Since this election will be won by a simple majority, the election of the next District Attorney of Contra Costa County will be determined by the votes cast on June 7, 2022.

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Ordained Baptist minister, DA Becton rallies for abortion rights, touts Planned Parenthood endorsement

Friday, May 27th, 2022

Becton speaking at pro-Roe v Wade rally on the county courthouse steps on Saturday, May 14, 2022. Source: Becton’s campaign Facebook page.

County school board member Avila Farias calls Herald readers “white supremacist cult followers”

By Allen D. Payton

DA Becton with Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and two other attendees at the May 14 rally. Source: Becton campaign Facebook page.

District Attorney Diana Becton spoke at a rally on the county courthouse steps on last week in support of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortions nationwide and touted her endorsement by Planned Parenthood.

In a post on her campaign Facebook page that day Becton wrote, “It was an honor to speak at the rally to kick off the day. Access to safe abortions is a public safety issue. I will always, proudly, stand by our right to privacy and our right to choose!

This morning we gathered at the Martinez Courthouse steps to rally in support of Roe vs Wade. Over 100 Contra Costan’s rallied and then got on buses to go rally in Sacramento or walk out neighborhoods in support of pro-choice candidates.

Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan said it best today, if we are going to protect our right to choose we have to elect pro choice candidates up and down the ballot. I’m proud to be the only candidate running for Contra Costa District Attorney that is endorsed by Planned Parenthood.”

Becton, an ordained Baptist minister who preaches in her and her husband’s church and has the title of “reverend”, was asked the following questions about her position on abortion and endorsement by Planned Parenthood:

“As a Baptist minister, someone who claims to be a Christian and as an African American how can you support abortion and Planned Parenthood, which was both founded in racist eugenics and continues to target Black and Hispanic communities, today by locating most of their facilities in their neighborhoods and aborting more of their unborn babies combined, than white babies, following the original mission of Margaret Sanger to keep their populations down? Why would you want the endorsement of an organization like that?”

In addition, she was asked, “how can you justify your position with what is written in the Bible in both Jeremiah 1, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart’ and in Psalm 139, ‘For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb’?”

Instead of responding to the emailed questions, on Friday, May 20, Becton posted the following on her campaign’s Facebook page and Twitter feed:

“In the spirit of transparency, I am sharing the questions I received today from the so-called ‘press’ outlet @antiochheraldca & @cocoherald.

For the record, I’m proud to be the ONLY candidate running for Contra Costa District Attorney that is endorsed by @PPact.

A woman’s right to choose is fundamental. It is non negotiable. A woman’s power — her constitutional right to make choices about her personal health care —  is a matter of public safety every day and every hour, and it must be protected. #BansOffOurBodies”.

Anamarie Avila Farias’ comment on Becton’s campaign Facebook page.

County School Board Trustee Avila Farias calls Herald readers “white supremacist cult followers”

In a comment beneath the post on Becton’s campaign Facebook page, Contra Costa County Board of Education Trustee for Area 3, Anamarie Avila Farias

She wrote, “Pro Choice -Catholic Mexican Mama here, the hope I have for my daughter, and all of our children, is that they grow up with the freedom to determine their own course in life and that starts with their own reproductive freedom. Thank you DA Becton of occupying various spaces of justice!”

Avila Farias then took a nasty, baseless swipe at this reporter and the readers of the Herald writing, “Allen Payton and all his white supremacist cult followers spew nothing but discrimination, machismo, and cultural stereotypes which are largely responsible for the barriers Latinas and people of color face in accessing proper healthcare, especially around reproductive rights.

We all know what to do Co Co County – Re- Elect Diana Becton! The Prosecutor office must reflect the communities they serve and the changing demographics!”

The election is June 7 in which Becton is facing a challenge from Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox.

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DA candidate Knox challenged Becton’s failure to act on Antioch mayor’s DUI one day before press release issued about April 1 charges

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

Deputy D.A. Mary Knox, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and D.A. Diana Becton.

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe has endorsed D.A. Diana Becton in her re-election campaign; she contributed to his anti-recall campaign

Becton’s campaign shoots back accusing Knox of asking for leniency on friend’s 2017 DUI charges; Knox’s campaign responds to accusation

By Allen D. Payton

On May 19, the Mary Knox for District Attorney campaign released a statement calling for action from District Attorney Diana Becton after more than 60 days had passed with no action on a DUI case involving a Becton campaign endorser, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. The Herald was not made aware of Knox’s campaign press release until after receiving the press release from the DA’s office on Friday, May 20 announcing charges had been filed against Thorpe on April 1. (See related article)

In addition, on May 8 a Public Records Act request was submitted by Walnut Creek resident Scott Buckley asking for “details related to the recent DUI arrest of Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and any correspondence details related to this case or prosecution of the case.” In a May 17 response to Buckley, Deputy District Attorney Sophea Nop denied the request for documents claiming they’re exempt, but also wrote, “Additionally, I have determined that there are no documents in either the physical or electronic file which constitutes correspondence between Lamar Thorpe and the District Attorney’s Office regarding this case.”

CCDA response to Buckley PRA. Source: Knox campaign (redacted by the Herald)

The Knox press release reads as follows:

“The Contra Costa Herald previously reported that District Attorney Diana Becton held a private meeting with Mayor Thorpe just three days following the incident.

‘It has now been more than 60 days since it was reported that Mayor Lamar Thorpe was arrested for a DUI and yet we have seen no action come from the D.A.’s office,’ said Jamie Patton, spokeswoman for Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox, candidate for District Attorney, on Thursday, May 19. ‘Contra Costa residents deserve safety from drivers who recklessly drive under the influence of alcohol. Everyone wants to see their District Attorney act with integrity and fairness, regardless of a person’s position of power or influence, yet D.A. Diana Becton met with Lamar Thorpe personally following the incident and we continue to see no action to prosecute. We believe D.A. Diana Becton must address this glaring dereliction of duty and take action on this rapidly-aging case.’

Knox has served as a Prosecutor in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office for 37 years and has extensive trial experience. Knox has earned the endorsement of every law enforcement agency in the County, as well as state and local organizations such as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, PORAC, the California Narcotics Officers Association and the California Gang Investigators Association. Mary has advanced social justice while preventing crime in Contra Costa County.  She brought anti-bias training to the District Attorney’s Office and has fought to end discrimination against women in the Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s Office.

Mary Knox and the incumbent are the only candidates running for election as District Attorney.  Since this election will be won by a simple majority, the election of the next District Attorney of Contra Costa County will be determined by the votes cast on June 7, 2022.

March 2022: Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe Was Arrested For Driving Under The Influence. “On Saturday, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe confirmed in a video that he was arrested by the California Highway Patrol for a DUI. CHP later released a statement confirming the incident just before 11:00 am.” [East County Today, 3/19/22]

Becton Had “Private Meeting” With Thorpe Three Days After His Arrest, As District Attorney’s Office Was Investigating Incident. “Three days after Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe was arrested for DUI and while the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office was investigating the incident, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, he held a private meeting with D.A. Diana Becton in her office in Martinez, according to reports of what was seen on her visitor sign-in log. Neither Becton, her staff nor Thorpe will say what the meeting was about or if anyone else, such as the city attorney or interim city manager, was in the room with them.” [Contra Costa Herald, 3/30/22]

Thorpe Later Confirmed He Had Met With Becton, Said She Had Requested “Cooperation In The Investigation.” “During a press conference, Wednesday morning, April 4, 2022 on Antioch Police Department staffing, hiring incentives and the investigation of officers by the FBI and Contra Costa D.A.’s office, Mayor Lamar Thorpe confirmed what had been previously reported, of a private meeting that he had with Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton on Tuesday, March 22, the day before the investigation occurred. He said Interim Antioch City Manager Con Johnson was also in attendance. The meeting was held just three days following Thorpe’s arrest for DUI and while he was under investigation by her department… Thorpe said the meeting was held by Becton to request his and Johnson’s cooperation in the investigation and they were to ‘keep confidentiality as this was an ongoing investigation’.” [Contra Costa Herald, 4/4/22]

As of May 2022, a search of Contra Costa County’s online case portal did not show any pending cases involving Thorpe. [cc-courts.org]

We mailed a criminal records search request regarding Thorpe to the Contra Costa County Superior court on May 11, 2022 and are awaiting a response.

Thorpe is listed as a campaign endorser on Becton’s campaign website.”

——————-

Source: Becton campaign.

Becton’s Campaign Manager Fires Back at Knox

The following was posted on Becton’s campaign Facebook page on Saturday, May 21 about Knox, in 2017, asking for leniency for a friend who was arrested for DUI:

“An important message from DA Becton’s Campaign Manager, Champagne Brown:

In her latest baseless attack against District Attorney Becton, Mary Knox claims to want accountability for ‘drivers who drive recklessly under the influence of alcohol.’ And yet, in 2017, Knox pled with a judge for leniency—and no accountability—for a colleague from the DA’s Office who drove under the influence of alcohol, crashing head on into another car and critically injuring the driver.

That person was George Driscoll, now the manager of the independent expenditure that has funneled nearly $250,000 from police associations to elect Mary Knox.

Source: Becton campaign.

DUI is the most common offense among California police officers (eastbaytimes.com)

Despite Knox’s letter to the judge pleading for leniency, George Driscoll was nevertheless convicted of a felony and removed from his duties as a law enforcement officer.

This is yet another example of Mary Knox’s hypocrisy and corruption—she is for ‘law and order,’ except when it comes to her well-connected friends and donors.

Source: Becton campaign

She cannot be trusted to hold people she owes—including police associations—accountable.

Contra Costa County deserves a District Attorney who is courageous enough to ensure the justice system works for everyone, not just the well connected.”

Knox Campaign Responds

In response to the accusation from Becton’s campaign, Knox’s campaign spokeswoman Upton wrote, “Ms. Becton’s latest attack on Mary Knox once again demonstrates her failure to acknowledge her conflict of interest inherent in the prosecution of Mayor Lamar Thorpe.  Mayor Thorpe has endorsed Ms. Becton’s political campaign, donated to Mayor Thorpe’s effort to stave off the recall campaign launched against him and met with Mayor Thorpe in her office just days after he was arrested, Ms. Becton should have recused herself from this prosecution following Mayor Thorpe’s arrest.

Mary Knox acted ethically in writing a letter to the judge presiding over the sentencing of a case that qualified for Veterans Court in Lassen County. A judge is required by law to consider whether a veteran’s military service contributed to the commission of the criminal offense, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as standard factors in mitigation in sentencing. In her letter, Ms. Knox described for the judge this veteran’s service to his country that resulted in awards, including a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, by President Obama and President Bush in a service career that spanned three decades with tremendous personal sacrifice.  Mary Knox properly provided the sentencing judge with information that he was required by law to consider in sentencing.”

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Contra Costa DA candidate Knox issues statement on out-of-state funds from billionaire George Soros supporting incumbent, again

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

The first Form 496 finance report by California Justice & Public Safety PAC submitted on May 14, 2022, showing over $200,000 in support for Diana Becton. Source: Netfile.com

D.C.-based California Justice & Public Safety PAC with major funding from Soros has reported more than $400,000 in spending to influence voters in the 2022 Contra Costa DA Race

Knox also benefits from out-of-county funds, but most are from within Contra Costa including $170,000 from Deputy Sheriff’s Association PAC

George Soros at the 47th Munich Security Conference 2011 crop (link) by Harald Dettenborn is licensed by creativecommons.org 3.0 de (link)Source: InfluenceWatch.org

By Allen D. Payton

Over $400,000 has been spent by the California Justice & Public Safety Political Action Committee based in Washington, D.C. to support Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton’s re-election campaign. According to a Form 496 report filed on May 14 by the committee on the Netfile.com website, $206,700 in expenditures were made for “Digital Advertisement Production Supporting Diana Becton”. An additional $201,387.03 was spent by the independent expenditure committee according to another Form 496 report filed on May 14 on “Digital Advertisement Production Opposing Mary Knox”.  California Justice & Public Safety PAC Form 496 051422 #1   California Justice & Public Safety PAC Form 496 051422 #2

According to influencewatch.org, “California Justice & Public Safety PAC is a left-of-center PAC that was created in 2018 to fund the campaigns of progressive Democratic candidates for district attorney in several cities in California. The organization is the California branch of the vast ‘Safety and Justice’ network, a project of left-leaning billionaire George Soros that used a network of similarly named state-level PACs to finance the campaigns of progressive Democratic candidates for district attorney in more than a dozen of America’s cities.”

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton from her 2022 re-election campaign website.

According to the Justice & Public Safety PAC website, the Soros-backed effort has been “winning races in 14 states over the last 6 years.” Also according to influencewatch.org, “Justice and Public Safety PAC is a left-of-center PAC that focuses on supporting the campaigns of progressive district attorneys in the Commonwealth of Virginia. [1] The PAC receives most of its funding from left-leaning billionaire George Soros and Democracy PAC, which also receives much of its funding from Soros. [2] It is one of several similarly-named PACs that receive substantial funding from Soros and contribute to the campaigns of progressive district attorneys across the U.S.”[3]

They include Becton both during her 2018 campaign, and now, this year’s. The progressive Democrat DA’s also include San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin and Los Angeles County’s George Gascon, both of whom are facing possible recalls. Becton formed a statewide organization with them and San Joaquin County DA Tori Verber Salazar, entitled Prosecutors Alliance of California.

 

Pages 1 and 2 of the second Form 496 finance report by California Justice & Public Safety PAC submitted on May 14, 2022, showing over $200,000 opposing Mary Knox. Source: Netfile.com

Knox’s Campaign Also Benefits from Out-of-County PAC Funds, But Most From Within Contra Costa

Knox’s campaign was also the beneficiary of out-of-county political action committee funds, including $10,000 from the Oakland Police Officer’s Association PAC on May 5. According to the Netfile.com website a Form 496 was filed by the Contra Costans for Progress and Justice, a coalition of business, labor and people that care about public safety in support of Mary Knox for District Attorney 2022 showing $50,096 was spent on a “Mailer (Estimated Costs)” and showing the “Cumulative to date total $70,684.75” which the Oakland POA’s PAC helped pay for. Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 050322  Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 050522 Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 051922

Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 p.3 submitted May 3, 20222 showing $130,000 in contributions to support Mary Knox’s campaign. Source: Netfile.com

However, according to a separate Form 496 report filed on May 3 by the independent expenditure committee most of their funds spent were from within Contra Costa County, including $170,000 from the Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff’s Association Independent Expenditure PAC, $7,500 from Alves Ranch Property Holdings, LLC in Alamo, $10,000 from the Concord Police Association PAC, $3,000 from the Brentwood Police Officers Association PAC and $2,500 from the Walnut Creek Police Association PAC (WCPA PAC). Contributions of $500 each were received from the Moraga and Pleasant Hill Police Officers Associations PACS. A total of $3,600 in contributions included in that report were received from sources outside of the county. The report shows $20,588.75 was spent on digital ads to support Knox’s campaign.

Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 p.2 submitted May 3, 20222 showing $50,000 in contributions to support Mary Knox’s campaign. Source: Netfile.com

The most recent Form 496 report filed on May 19 by the Contra Costans for Progress and Justice committee shows an additional $20,000 contribution from the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriff’s Association PAC, $20,000 from the Peace Officers Research Association of California PAC (PORAC PAC) Small Contributor Committee based in Sacramento and an additional $2,500 from two Contra Costa County residents. The report also shows an additional $29,316 was spent on a mailer and shows cumulative to date total expenditures of $100,000.70.

Questions for Becton Go Unanswered

Becton was asked for comment about the spending by the PAC and funds from Soros via email Friday morning, May 20. She was also asked if it is good to have so much out-of-county and out-of-state funds spent to influence an election in Contra Costa County. Becton did not respond.

Knox Issues Statement

Knox’s campaign issued the following this past week:

In light of recently reported contributions from an out-of-state PAC funded by George Soros, Mary Knox, candidate for Contra Costa District Attorney released the following statement:

“An out-of-state billionaire is now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to influence voters and drown out the voices of local donors in the District Attorney’s race,” said Deputy District Attorney Knox. “Our grassroots campaign has deeply resonated with Contra Costa voters who want to see our DA focused on restoring safety and reducing crime. It’s clear that my campaign has made an impact that is now

driving out-of-state spending in this race. I remain focused on ensuring our message reaches voters across our county.”

Knox has served as a prosecutor in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office for 37 years and has extensive trial experience. Knox has earned the endorsement of every law enforcement agency in the County, as well as state and local organizations such as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, PORAC, the California Narcotics Officers Association and the California Gang Investigators Association. Mary has advanced social justice while preventing crime in Contra Costa County. She brought anti-bias training to the District Attorney’s Office and has fought to end discrimination against women in the Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s Office.

Mary Knox and the incumbent are the only candidates running for election as District Attorney. Since this election will be won by a simple majority, the election of the next District Attorney of Contra Costa County will be determined by the votes cast on June 7, 2022.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox. From her campaign Facebook page

About Mary Knox

Mary Knox has dedicated her life to making Contra Costa County safer. For more than 37 years, Mary has served as an experienced prosecutor and advocate for crime victims. As a lead prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office, Mary has won high profile cases against some of the most notorious criminals in Contra Costa County history. She worked to dismantle the criminal gangs who have preyed upon our most disadvantaged communities, and she has engaged in meaningful violence reduction by instituting effective strategies to reduce crime and prosecute violent criminals. To discourage freeway shootings, she secured $3.5 million for freeway security cameras. She brought in $3.5 million in federal funding to combat sex trafficking. And, after recent smash and grab robberies, Mary developed a three-point plan to hold organized crime syndicates accountable and prevent future crimes.

Born and raised in Walnut Creek, Mary Knox attended UCLA and then Pepperdine Law School.

During law school, Mary worked as a law clerk in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in the Sexual Assault Unit and in a second clerkship in the Juvenile Unit. Once Mary graduated from law school, she came home and has worked as a prosecutor in the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s for the past 37 years while raising her son, Darien, as a single mother.

Key Endorsements (for a complete list visit maryknox4da.com):

  • Crime Victims United
  • Police Officer Research Association of California (PORAC)
  • California Narcotic Officers’ Association (CNOA)
  • California Correctional Peace Officers Association
  • Central Coast Gang Investigators Association
  • National Latino Police Officer Association – Contra Costa County NLPOA Advocacy Chapter
  • Chinese American Political Association (CAPA) PAC
  • Contra Costa County Sheriff, David Livingston
  • Mitchell Celaya III, Calistoga Police Chief
  • Douglas Krathwal, Retired San Pablo Police Chief
  • Joseph Aida, Retired San Pablo Police Chief
  • Walt Schuld, Retired San Pablo Police Chief
  • John Moore, Retired Pleasant Hill Police Chief
  • Dan Lawrence, Retired Clayton Police Chief
  • Tom Holt, Former Police Lieutenant from the Contra Costa Community College District
  • Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association
  • Contra Costa District Attorney Investigators Association
  • El Cerrito Police Officer Association
  • Hercules Police Officer Association
  • Martinez Police Officer Association
  • Oakley Police Officer Association
  • Pinole Police Officer Association
  • Pittsburg Police Officer Association
  • Pleasant Hill Police Officer Association
  • San Ramon Police Officer Association
  • Antioch Police Officer Association
  • BART Police Officer Association
  • Brentwood Police Officer Association
  • Richmond Police Officer Association
  • San Pablo Police Employees’ Association
  • Clayton Police Officer Association
  • Concord Police Officer Association
  • East Bay Regional Parks Police Officer Association
  • Walnut Creek Police Officer Association

To learn more about incumbent DA Becton’s campaign, click here. The election is June 7.

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