Campaign To Recall LA DA George Gascón Says It's Filing More Than 700K Signatures
In the second effort to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón since he took office, opponents of the progressive DA said they filed more than 700,000 signatures with county election officials Wednesday.
The campaign needs to have collected at least 566,857 valid signatures from registered voters to place the recall question on the November ballot. Because a significant number of signatures typically are disqualified on such petitions, the campaign really needed to gather significantly more.
On Wednesday, organizers claimed they got there and are filing 717,000 signatures with the county registrar in Norwalk. A previous effort failed to gain enough support.
The next step is verification: The registrar usually counts a random sample to figure out how many signatures are valid.
Campaign insiders said ahead of filing that it would be close. On Wednesday, as he waited on a truck to arrive with the documentation, recall spokesperson Tim Lineberger said recall backers were feeling confident.
"It starts with the victims who initiated this effort," he said. "They were the ones who actually felt the brunt of the impact of George Gascón's policies from day one, when their loved ones had something horrific happen to them and they had to experience the justice system under George Gascón."
The recall effort included mailing petitions, with return postage, to millions of L.A. voters.
Since the initial failed effort to recall Gascón, another progressive DA, San Francisco's Chesa Boudin, was ousted in June 7 primary vote. Boudin's opponents also used direct mail in an effort to boost their campaign.
Gascón defeated incumbent DA Jackie Lacey in 2020 running on a progressive agenda in the year that the George Floyd murder sparked a national reckoning over criminal justice reform.
Now, those working to remove Gascón from office argue his approach is making the county less safe, although that claim is not backed up by empirical evidence.
Gascón, as he promised he would do, has stopped seeking the death penalty, sought more lenient sentences, and not prosecuted some lower-level misdemeanors. He says crime started rising (as it did in many cities around the country) before he took office and that his policies are designed to reduce mass incarceration and racial disparities in the justice system.
The DA has characterized the efforts to remove him from office as a right-wing campaign to undermine his work to create a more equitable criminal justice system.
The DA suffered a legal setback on one of his blanket policies last month when an appellate court ruled he could no longer order his prosecutors not to ever seek "enhancements" that could add many years to a prison sentence.
And following criticism of some of his other policies, in February the DA backtracked somewhat on two of them.
While upon taking office he ended the practice of seeking a life sentence without the possibility of parole, in February Gascón told his staff in a memo that he would consider it "in an extremely limited number of cases where the underlying facts are extraordinary and/or the victims are uniquely vulnerable."
Two days before that, the DA altered his original policy of never charging juveniles as adults, saying he would consider it in cases involving "severe violence."
Recall backers said they gained support following the fatal shooting of two El Monte Police officers who were killed in the line of the duty last month. At a news conference, the mother of Officer Joseph Santana blamed Gascón for the shooter, Justin William Flores, being out of jail.
Flores, 35, was on probation and court records show he'd pleaded guilty last year to being a felon in possession of a firearm — a charge that could have sent him to prison for up to three years.
The conviction came as part of a plea deal and Flores got no prison time.
At a news conference addressing the accusations, Gascón said the sentence was appropriate, noting that Flores — who was shot and killed by police — had a history of drug addiction but not violence.
It remains unclear whether Flores would have been behind bars in June had somebody else been DA, given the uncertainties of plea negotiations.