Over at Rostra today, Tony Manolatos levels a pretty serious accusation at District Attorney and mayoral hopeful Bonnie Dumanis:
Nathan Fletcher would benefit the most from a Dumanis exit but I don’t see it happening. Way back when there were no official candidates neither her nor Fletcher had any luck getting the other to bow out. I heard Dumanis offered Fletcher a deal back then: Serve as her chief of staff and she would step down after one term and support him for mayor.
First and foremost, if this is true it would likely be illegal under Section 599 of the U.S. Code on Elections and Political Activities:
Whoever, being a candidate, directly or indirectly promises or pledges the appointment, or the use of his influence or support for the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
That’s pretty straightforward if it went down in the manner Manolatos describes. Certainly he describes a scenario that flagrantly violates the purpose of the law even if there’s a technicality involved. It’s not as though it’s news that a high volume of the politics in San Diego goes on behind closed doors, and that horse trading of this general sort is where most of the bloodsport happens so that the GOP can present a relatively united public face.
Sometimes it bubbles over, as with Carl DeMaio unapologetically announcing his plans to reward donors from office or trying to force a council candidate out of their race. Or in this case with Manolatos accusing the District Attorney of a significant crime without appearing to bat an eye. It may be business as usual, and folks just forget sometimes that it isn’t for public consumption.
Or, exactly the opposite. Now that the party has closed ranks around extreme conservative Carl DeMaio, Manolatos got the job of tossing out some of the dirty laundry on the other candidates to help plow the road. Perhaps the SDGOP has enough confidence in the impotence of San Diego’s watchdog infrastructure that they feel confident they can get away with throwing a few crimes out into the public without fear of the whole operation getting rolled up to Tony Krvaric’s door. Certainly the press has its chance here to live up or down to expectations.
Because this is a serious and public accusation that’s been leveled at the District Attorney, one that challenges not only the legitimacy of her campaign, but her capacity to appropriately continue as District Attorney. It isn’t exactly an illogical notion if one sticks to the realpolitik of the situation, so if it isn’t true, we’d better get a good explanation soon from some combination of Dumanis and Fletcher and I’d forgive Team Dumanis if they double-checked the legal standard for libel.
If it is true, then it merits a thorough investigation — not just of Dumanis, but of anyone including Fletcher who failed to report the crime. And it would merit further reflection on just what passes for standard operating procedure these days in San Diego, and just who is dictating what passes for ‘appropriate’ behavior.
by Lucas O’Connor