Thursday, March 27, 2008
D.A. Probes Whether Bid Made to Get Judicial Candidate to Withdraw
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The District Attorney’s Office is actively investigating allegations that a campaign operative representing Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner and judicial candidate Harvey Silberman illegally offered something of value to induce his opponent to leave the race, the MetNews has learned.
Silberman and Deputy District Attorney Serena Murillo are running for Office No. 69, the Superior Court seat being vacated by Judge Tracy Grant.
Silberman’s consultant is Evelyn Jerome Alexander, who has represented a number of other judicial candidates. She is a principal in the firm of SJA Strategies, while Murillo is represented by Cerrell Associates Inc.
Little to Say
Murrillo told the MetNews that she was not personally contacted about getting out of the race, but that she believes an approach was made to the Cerrell firm, and referred a request for comment to the president of that firm, Hal Dash, who had little to say on the matter yesterday.
“I really can’t comment on it,” Dash said. “I believe people are looking into it.”
He would not say whether those people work for the district attorney, but another source familiar with the investigation confirmed that is the case.
Elections Code Sec. 18205 provides:
“A person shall not directly or through any other person advance, pay, solicit, or receive or cause to be advanced, paid, solicited, or received, any money or other valuable consideration to or for the use of any person in order to induce a person not to become or to withdraw as a candidate for public office. Violation of this section shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or two or three years.”
An uncompleted attempt to violate the statute would apparently carry a penalty of between eight and 18 months in prison under Penal Code Sec. 664.
Alexander did not return MetNews phone calls, and her partner, Randy Steinberg, declined comment. But their attorneys said they expected their clients to be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Steve Meister said he was representing Steinberg.
“Randy Steinberg and Evelyn Jerome Alexander are ethical, law-abiding, reputable and highly regarded professionals and I am confident the D.A. will find this to be the case. I look forward to the D.A. candidly discussing with me any matter they are looking into, and I will be candid with them.”
Alexander’s attorney, Kenneth J. Kahn, declined to discuss the details of any contacts his client may have had with the Cerrell firm about the race but insisted that Alexander “committed no violation of the law and any investigation will no doubt result in that finding.”
Silberman expressed surprise, saying he had not been made aware of any investigation, and that if any approach was made, it was “absolutely not” with his knowledge or authorization.
The commissioner was the first candidate for the seat, filing his declaration of intent on Feb. 5. Murillo filed her declaration two days later, and finalized her candidacy by returning nomination documents Feb. 19.
Silberman hedged his bet, however, by filing a second declaration on Feb. 11, for the seat being vacated by Judge Michael Duggan. He did not finalize his candidacy until March 7, the last day for doing so, when he submitted his nomination documents for the Grant seat.
In a recent interview, Silberman said he ultimately settled on that race because a runoff is likely for the Duggan seat, which is being sought by two prosecutors and a deputy public defender, and a two-way race ending in June would be less burdensome for his family.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company