Wednesday, June 27, 2007
ADDA Head Ipsen Says He Is Running for District Attorney
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Steve Ipsen, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, has confirmed that he will challenge his boss, District Attorney Steve Cooley, next year.
In an e-mail to friends and colleagues Monday, Ipsen said he was going to run against the two-term incumbent.
“I have been encouraged to run by many of you in the office as well as leaders in law enforcement and victim’s rights organizations statewide,” the former State Bar Board of Governors member wrote. He also invited the recipients to a campaign event tomorrow night at a private home in Beverly Hills.
“If you share my belief that the DDAs in this office and the citizens of Los Angeles County deserve better, I hope that you will support me in my efforts to make the DA’s office what it should be and make Los Angeles safer as the next District Attorney of Los Angeles County,” he added.
Elaborating on those comments in a phone interview with the MetNews, Ipsen called Cooley “the worst D.A. L.A.’s ever had,” and accused the incumbent of “selling out to the criminal defense bar” by soliciting campaign contributions from defense attorneys.
He also contended that defense lawyers were “pressured” into donating to the Cooley campaign.
John Thomas, a spokesman for the Cooley campaign, said the district attorney had “broad support among all stakeholders” in the criminal justice system and that defense lawyers represented “a relatively small percentage of a large number of contributors.” Specific figures, he said, will be available when campaign finance reports are filed at the end of next month.
Ipsen acknowledged that he faces a huge financial undertaking in trying to knock off the two-term incumbent, whose ability to raise campaign funds is well established.
“Some people say [a successful campaign] will cost [a] million [dollars], some say two million,” he said. “I will not be selling out and corrupting myself and pressuring the criminal defense bar to contribute, but I will be a viable candidate.”
If elected, Ipsen said, among his priorities will be to restore the office’s relationship with the California District Attorneys Association.
Cooley cut ties with the group last year after drawing a strongly negative reaction to his proposal to modify the Three Strikes Law along the lines of his office’s internal policy, which requires prosecutors to move to waive the “third strike” penalty unless the new offense is a serious or violent felony or a serious drug crime, or unless a supervising prosecutor agrees that unusual circumstances warranting the penalty exist.
Ipsen, who claims Three Strikes Law author Mike Reynolds among his supporters, said he also favors changes in the law. But the challenger said Cooley wants to “gut” the law, and that his plan, which he laid out in his first campaign seven years ago, is an example of his coziness with the defense bar.
That issue aside, he said, Cooley’s actions have hurt the office by preventing its members from attending and teaching at CDAA seminars unless willing and able to do so on their own time and at their own expense.
Thomas responded by saying that Cooley took a “principled stand” and that he was “encouraged to do this by his constituency.”
Ipsen is the first candidate to declare his presence in the race. He said he spoke to another potential candidate, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who told him he has not yet decided to run.
That conversation, Ipsen added, occurred prior to recent disclosures that the city attorney’s wife had driven his city-owned vehicle while her license was suspended and damaged the vehicle while on a personal errand in 2005, and that the city had paid for the repairs, although Delgadillo repaid the costs after the incident recently became public.
Another possible candidate, Deputy District Attorney Danette Meyers, said she was focusing on the County Bar, of which she will become president-elect next month. But she did not rule out the possibility of running for district attorney.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company