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Cooley's donations raise questions about the line between fundraising and probes

Rene Cota was stunned when he searched the Internet and came across a $1,500 campaign contribution reported recently by Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who is running for state attorney general.

The shocker, he said, was the donor — David Perez of Valley Vista Services in the City of Industry.

For about a year, Perez, who is also the mayor of the City of Industry and whose family owns the Valley Vista trash hauling firm, has been the focus of an inquiry by Cooley's office into his private business ties to City Hall. The ongoing probe, apparently examining multimillion-dollar refuse collection and landscaping maintenance contracts, began after Cota filed a complaint.

When the city shut down his bar for alleged code violations, Cota began looking into Industry's close-knit political culture — there are fewer than 100 registered voters, and many are related to one another or working for the city.

"It disheartens me," said the former Anaheim police officer. It is "obviously unethical if he's taking contributions from persons or entities" under scrutiny by Cooley's office, he said. "It definitely shakes my confidence in the legal system."

Cooley's top anti-corruption deputy says there is no connection between campaign money and the district attorney's investigation or prosecution of public officials.

But the donation highlights a tricky choice for an elected prosecutor like Cooley. Where does he draw the line on taking money from people who could figure in an investigation?

The question has also arisen in Bell Gardens. Cooley's campaign accepted $13,000 from City Manager Steve Simonian, a longtime friend and former aide, during and immediately after an inquiry involving two of Simonian's bosses on the City Council.

Cooley's campaign spokesman, Kevin Spillane, said the prosecutor's ethical line is clearly drawn: Political fundraising has no influence on the work of the district attorney's office. Suggesting otherwise is "ridiculous and it's insulting," he said. Cooley doesn't track all the donations his campaigns have raised, he said.

Read the full story here.

-- Rich Connell

Comments () | Archives (4)

I was 'stunned' when I searched the internet and found that "Rene Cota" is apparently a supporter of Kamala Harris, the democrat candidate for Attorney General. I imagine "Rene Cota" was stunned at how small the donations to Steve Cooley were when compared to donations and gifts that Kamala Harris received; $34,000 for "travel" provided by a non-profit organization, and a bunch of smaller donations from the Patel family, the San Francisco motel owners who are able to skirt anti-slumlord laws because they rent motel rooms not apartments. What's equally stunning is that Harris runs the San Francisco DA's Office so badly that it has a conviction rate of only 55%; that's much lower than the state average of 89% and well below Steve Cooley's 93% conviction rate. More stunning, is the way Harris appears to have delayed disclosing "Brady" evidence to defense attorneys. Many believe that Harris foolishly tried to cover up the scandal surrounding the SFPD Crime Lab, and are calling for a State Bar ethics investigation. Harris is going to have a very hard time running away from her record, it's stunningly appalling.

Steve Cooley is full of corruption. From personal experience I am having the fight of my life against the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department & the District Attorney's Office who have made it a point to ruin my life all in an effort to coverup the corruption going on.

http:// batteredbypd.wordpress.com/

This is where your tax dollars are going....Take a look & see if this is how you expect your county officials to spend your money, especially during a time when the City, County, & State is BROKE!

Steve Cooley's conviction record has everything to do with his selective prosecution. Sex offenders are going to continue their Christmas fest if Cooley goes to the AG's office. The Catholic church? The internal corruption? The undisclosed "Brady" evidence resulting in mistrials. The tax payers are taking it in the shorts thanks to Cooley. But, it is Christmas for him, everyday. Send a gift and get out of jail free. Yipee!!

Kamala Harris did not support the death penalty for that illegal immigrant who massacred a whole family in broad SF daylight.

I don't care what Cooley did or does.



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