Wednesday, November 5, 2003
Ex-Councilman Nick Pacheco May Challenge Cooley in Contest for District Attorney
By a METNEWS Staff Writer
Former Los Angeles Councilman Nick Pacheco said yesterday he will decide within two weeks whether to challenge District Attorney Steve Cooley’s bid for a second term.
Pacheco, who took out papers Monday for a possible bid, said he was considering the challenge because “I don’t think [Cooley] has any vision for the County of Los Angeles.”
The incumbent, he said, “shows no leadership particularly on violent crime.”
Pacheco spent nearly five years in the District Attorney’s Office, leaving in 1999 after winning election to the council. He lost his seat earlier this year to Antonio Villaragoisa, and is now practicing with attorney Shane Thever, doing municipal law, police officer defense, medical malpractice defense, and general business litigation.
The ex-councilman said he had not been in communication with Democratic Party leaders, some of whom failed in an earlier effort to recruit Councilman—and former federal prosecutor—Jack Weiss to challenge Cooley. Pacheco did say he has been contacted by “various key individuals” since a recent newspaper article suggested that Cooley failed to prosecute viable corruption charges in connection with the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Belmont Learning Center project.
Pacheco said he did not yet know how much money he could raise. Cooley has reported raising over $800,000 and is expected to have more than $1 million available to him for the race.
Pacheco added that he would not discourage other potential challengers from running. Deputy District Attorney Tom Higgins has announced that he will run, and Deputy District Attorney Denise Moehlman has taken out papers.
Environmental lawyer Roger Carrick also said he may run.
“I personally believe that the more candidates that are in the race, the better it is for our democratic process,” Pacheco said.
Cooley’s campaign spokesman said he did not believe Pacheco has what it takes to unseat the incumbent.
“The citizens of Los Angeles County have had three and a half years of a professional prosecutor,” John Shallman commented. “I don’t think they want a professional politician in that office, particularly one who was rejected by his own council district.”
Shallman questioned whether Pacheco was ethically fit for the office, and said “it would be very troubling for most voters when they take a hard look at Nick Pacheco and his background.”
Pacheco was linked to a phony telephone recording during the last mayoral campaign. In the message, a woman identifying herself as “Gloria Marina” asserted that Villaraigosa—then running for mayor—was a dangerous man who supported child molesters and rapists.
That tactic stung Supervisor Gloria Molina, who was a staunch supporter of Villaraigosa’s mayoral bid. Pacheco supported Rep. Xavier Becerra, then backed James Hahn against Villaraigosa when Becerra fell far short in the primary.
A district attorney’s investigation found that the calls came from a phone bank rented out by Pacheco, and that some of Pacheco’s council staff—on leave to campaign for Becerra’s mayoral bid—were involved in the fake calls. But Pacheco was never charged with personal wrongdoing.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company