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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Both the Davis Enterprise and Woodland Daily Democrat have cited the People's Vanguard of Davis in their reporting on the DA's case

Rumors Swirl Following Letter Accusing District Attorney Reisig of Ethical Breaches

When the Vanguard received and published sections of a letter from Senior County Investigator, Rick Gore on Friday afternoon, little did we realize the political firestorm that would develop as a result of the article.

The Yolo County District Attorney's Office has responded by denying the charges, calling them "reckless allegations," and accusing Mr. Gore of acting on behalf of former District Attorney candidate Pat Lenzi, who previously was a Deputy District Attorney in the office.

The District Attorney's response seems calculated to divert attention away from the REAL story: Are these allegations true? What is the proper course for an investigation of this type of allegation? Who is investigating the allegations?

The Woodland Daily Democrat published a prepared statement from District Attorney Jeff Reisig.
"On behalf of the entire office, including the prosecutors and investigators targeted by these accusations, I deny these false and reckless allegations. I have requested an independent investigation, will be fully cooperative, and look forward to the results of the investigation. Since this is a personnel matter and there is a pending investigation, I cannot comment further."
Accusations tending to divert the course of the investigation, however come from "sources close to the DA's office."
"Sources close to the DA's Office have said, however, that Gore's letter campaign is nothing more than dirty politics engineered behind the scenes by Reisig's former political rival, Patricia Lenzi."
The Woodland Daily Democrat then goes from reporting about the allegations made by Mr. Gore and responded to by Mr. Reisig to another part of their story, much of it based on unidentified sources, rumor and an accusation by Yolo County DA Chief Investigator Pete Martin some of this involving the Vanguard:
"The letter first came to light Friday on a blogsite, The People's Vanguard of Davis, by it's host, David Greenwald.

Greenwald said Gore's letter was sent to him by its author, a 10-year investigator for the Yolo County District Attorney's Office. "
Furthermore, the timing has been linked to the political event my wife, Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald, a candidate for the Davis City Council had at the home of Pat Lenzi. According to rumors desperately being floated by the "sources close to the DA's office" and lacking any truth whatsoever, the release of the letter was specifically timed to coincide with the event on Saturday. Why anyone would do that, is simply beyond me.

The Woodland Daily Democrat however proceeds to print:
"Lenzi recently hosted a coming-out party for Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald to announce her candidacy for the Davis City Council.

Escamilla-Greenwald is wife to the same David Greenwald who first made public the letter on his blogsite."
There are two inaccuracies in the Daily Democrat's article.

First, "Gore is presently on paid administrative leave and could not be reached for comment late Monday."

Gore is in fact on medical leave for stress relating to his present job situation.

Second, "DA Chief Investigator Pete Martin also said Lenzi called the DA's office Friday on "behalf" of Gore promoting his cause."

In fact, Pat Lenzi made no such call to the District Attorney's office.

These allegations coming from the District Attorney's office are largely a political smokescreen designed to distract from the grave allegations against Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig contained in a letter written to him last week by his own Investigator Rick Gore.

Rumors linking Gore's letter to Pat Lenzi and a political fundraiser held at her house are irrelevant at best. The rumors include claims that Lenzi wrote the Gore letter and accompanied Rick Gore to the State Attorney General's Office to make his accusations there.

To check the rumors I contacted Ms. Lenzi directly and here's what I learned:
1) Lenzi committed to the political fundraiser in November 2007;
2) the date of March 8 for the fundraiser was chosen the week of January 12;
3) Lenzi secured Assemblymember Dave Jones' commitment as keynote speaker for the event on January 12;
4) Lenzi had surgery February 29 and was in bed up to the day of the political fundraiser for which she made her home available;
5) Rick Gore called Lenzi last week about the letter he had written and she referred him to lawyers qualified to advise him on the matter; and,
6) Lenzi says she did not write the letter nor did she accompany Gore to the State Attorney General's Office.
7) Lenzi never called the DA's office on Friday, March 7.
Rick Gore sent his letter Wednesday, March 5, 2008, to Reisig, the State Attorney General, the California State Bar Association, the Yolo County Human Resources Department, Yolo County Counsel, Yolo County Supervisors, Yolo County Public Defender's Office, and I trust they will all be compelled to investigate Gore's allegations against Reisig.

Rumors, smokescreens, diversions - including questioning authorship - aside...District Attorney Jeff Reisig has some explaining to do and he'll have to respond to investigations of his alleged misconduct.

Attempting to reduce this situation to rumors and gossip and charges of political motivation are a smokescreen for the real story - serious charges of misconduct by an elected Yolo County official.

The logic here seems lacking to begin with. Rick Gore is an employee with a spotless record, he is the senior investigator in the office, he has spent his entire career in law enforcement, he is just two years away from retirement, so why would he risk such consequences for a political vendetta of another individual? That makes no sense.

Furthermore, Rick Gore supported Mr. Reisig in his election with Ms. Lenzi.

My objection to the news media in general and local news in particular is that far too often they are easily diverted from the crux of an issue.

It would be fairly simple for the news media or investigators to verify claims in this letter. Yet they simply take at face value the claims of the District Attorney.

I do not know to the extent that the allegations are true. However, I become suspicious when instead of clean denials, I see political accusations and subterfuge. Hopefully the proper authorities will thoroughly investigate the matter and we can be confident in the veracity of their findings.

I hope that Yolo County will ask an outside and independent source to head up the investigation, so that it will not be tainted by either politics or agency loyalty.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting