Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón held a press conference on Wednesday to reflect on his record during his first year in office.
The media event comes just two days after a group organizing a drive to recall Gascón announced they were renewing their efforts after falling short in their first attempt. The recall campaign has the support of L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, a frequent critic of Gascón, who has blamed the district attorney for emboldening criminals.
Gascón and Villanueva have quickly emerged as rivals over the past year in L.A. County, which has more than ten million residents and is the largest criminal justice jurisdiction in America.
During Wednesday’s news conference, D.A. Gascón was asked about Sheriff Villanueva’s support for the recall campaign.
“My dad used to say, when you wrestle with a pig, you both get muddy and the pig likes it,” said Gascón.
NEW: L.A. D.A. George Gascon was asked to respond to L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s call for him to be recalled.
“My dad used to say, when you wrestle with a pig, you both get muddy and the pig likes it,” Gascon said, adding he didn’t use the word to demean law enforcement. pic.twitter.com/2IHhvH9XIq
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) December 8, 2021
Gascón added that he did not choose the word “pig” because of Villanueva’s role in law enforcement, but he reserves the term for “people that often act in ways that I believe … are not consistent with the decorum that certainly a public official should engage in.”
Shortly after Gascón made the remarks, a recall committee working to oust him from office issued a statement that claimed the progressive prosecutor “shockingly responded” to a question about Villanueva “by directly analogizing the Sheriff with a pig.” The group also accused Gascón of defending “his pro-criminal policies amidst a wave of crime” in L.A. County and evading questions about “connections between rising crime and his policies.”
Gascon offers full throated defense of his first year of a more lenient approach to prosecution than predecessors “We offered one solution in the past..long prison sentences..like factory making widgets.” https://t.co/6QBr6gHMNN
— Frank Stoltze (@StoltzeFrankly) December 8, 2021
“That press conference was an embarrassment – George Gascon is completely tone deaf to the impact his policies are having on victims and public safety,” said Desiree Andrade, co-chair of the Recall D.A. Gascon campaign. “Gascon’s defiance of reality and attempt to double-down on his pro-criminal agenda in the face of out-of-control crime demonstrates the urgency and necessity of removing him from office immediately.”
Andrade’s son was murdered in 2018, and she has said she opposes Gascón because her son’s killers would be eligible for parole under his new policies.
Gascón was elected in November 2020 and issued a set of special orders last December that sparked a backlash from law enforcement groups, deputy DAs in his own office, and families impacted by violent crime. The directives included stopping the practice of trying juveniles as adults, ending cash bail for low-level nonviolent offenses, taking the death penalty off the table, and a ban on prosecutors seeking all sentencing enhancements – a change that he later scaled back after public outcry.
Gascón did not campaign on eliminating most sentencing enhancements, and his plan to do so, along with other elements of his progressive agenda, was met with immediate resistance. Victims’ families and prosecutors connected with media outlets, and their stories, helped create support for a recall effort.