A union representing more than 9,900 sworn members of the Los Angeles Police Department has been accused of racism after releasing a television advertisement targeting Democrat George Gascón– the former district attorney in San Francisco who is currently running to become L.A. County’s top law enforcement official.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) launched the spot, titled “The Con is On with George Gascón,” earlier this month through an independent expenditure committee it sponsors. The ad focuses on Gascón’stenure in the Bay Area. The cop union has endorsed two-term incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey, an African-American woman and Democrat, who is opposed by Black Lives Matter and several other anti-incarceration advocates. The primary election is March 3.
In a press release, the Gascón campaign condemned the commercial as “racist” while referring to the LAPPL as a “conservative group” employing “underhanded tactics” to “maintain the status quo.” It claimed the ad portraysGascón, a Cuban immigrant and former LAPD officer, “as an elderly Caucasian man who is a dirty cop and intentionally mispronounces and mocks his Latino last name.”
“An organization whose leadership is largely comprised of Trump-supporting white guys with histories of excessive force is trying to paint Gascónas one of them in an effort to undermine his progressive support,” said Max Szabo, a spokesperson for the Gascón campaign. “The irony is as rich as their racism.”
— Maxwell Szabo (@maxxszabo) February 7, 2020
The LAPPL called the Gascóncampaign’s response “a comical, over-the-top, foaming-at-the-mouth press release.” The organization went on to say its membership “is made up of a majority of men and women of color” and its board “has a strong history of supporting candidates of both parties,” adding, it “did not make any endorsements for president in 2016.”
In a separate statement issued four days later, the Gascón campaign wrote, “racist ads are being funded by major Trump donors,” referencing Susan and Howard Groff, who own a construction equipment rental company in L.A. County. However, according to campaign finance reports, the vast majority of the committee’s funding has come from public safety professional organizations like the LAPPL, which invested at least $1 million. The Groffs have given $10,000.
“In an attempt to defuse the accurate critiques of his record, George Gascón has deputized his surrogates to use the label ‘racist’ against those who actively oppose him,” said Sue Groff in a statement provided to The Daily Wire. “Gascón’s despicable charge of ‘racism’ against me and the LAPPL, in response to the facts about him being exposed, is the sad response of a flailing and failed politician who can’t argue on the facts.”
While in San Francisco, Gascón established a reputation as one of the most progressive prosecutors in the nation. He stepped down in October after saying he had “become increasingly more uneasy seeing the backwardness of the criminal justice system in L.A.” and has promised to reduce the jail population if elected there.
Meanwhile,a pro-Gascón independent expenditure committee recently began airing a series of ads promoting the Cuban émigré and criticizing D.A. Lacey’s policies. The group is primarily funded by philanthropic women from in the Bay Area, including Patty Quillin, the wife of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who contributed $1 million to the cause. Liz Simons, the daughter of a retired hedge fund billionaire, gave $500,000 last month. The San Francisco-based Real Justice Political Action Committee, which was co-founded by black liberation activist Shaun King, recently made a $250,000 donation, according to campaign filings.
Former public defender Rachel Rossi is also in the race, which L.A. County residents could decide on Super Tuesday when California holds its presidential primary. If none of the candidates receive more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will compete in a November runoff.
L.A. County has the largest local prosecutors office in the country, along with the world’s biggest jail system.
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter@JeffreyCawood.