Friday, March 15, 2002
San Bernardino District Attorney Drops Bid for Re-election
By J’AMY PACHECO, Staff Writer
San Bernardino District Attorney Dennis L. Stout withdrew yesterday from his campaign for a third term in office, calling any effort to win a November runoff “pointless.”
The announcement came just over week after Stout’s second-place finish in the March 5 primary. He trailed challenger Mike Ramos, who won 42.7 percent of the vote, and was to face him again in November.
The incumbent received 35.3 percent. Frank Guzman, a Riverside solo practitioner, came in third with 21.9 percent and was eliminated from the race.
Stout’s support has steadily declined after revelations last year that he had talks with a political foe of county Supervisor Gerald “Jerry” Eaves, who was the target of a corruption probe. Stout’s ethics were widely called into question by county leaders for the action.
Stout declined to speak to reporters yesterday, but spokeswoman Susan Mickey said he announced his intention to withdraw shortly before faxing a written statement to the media. In the statement, Stout said he made the decision after “much soul searching” and after determination that “further prolonging the District Attorney’s race would be pointless.”
“The voters have given me the message that they desire change,” he wrote. “With that in mind, I am withdrawing from the campaign today and will no longer expend time or effort in seeking reelection to a third term.”
Ramos, a deputy district attorney and former Stout supporter, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Daniel Lough, Stout’s former assistant district attorney, said he was “sorry to see his term as D.A. end this way.”
Stout’s support began to decline after revelations that a task force investigating corruption in the county had tape recorded Stout, Lough and former Chief of Investigations Barry Bruins in telephone conversations with a political foe of Eaves. The revelations were made by lawyers defending Eaves in civil and criminal suits stemming from his alleged involvement in corruption.
Transcripts of telephone conversations in which Stout, Lough and Bruins discussed aspects of the Eaves matter with Eaves’ foe, Ed Scott, were released to the media.
The Board of Supervisors demanded an explanation from Stout. No charges were filed against him or his aides.
Eaves is facing trial on criminal charges of accepting improper gifts and not reporting them.
Lough, who was demoted to a Real Estate Fraud unit following the release of the transcripts, said he hoped Stout would not be remembered for the event.
“I think Dennis did an excellent job as D.A.,” Lough stated. “We made good strides in professionalizing the office, but as so often is the case, the true accomplishments aren’t as important to voters. It’s a shame a political misstep caused this to occur.”
Rather, Lough said he hoped Stout’s legacy would be one in which he was remembered for “moving a very neglected office into the 21st century.”
“We were very successful in bringing in money in on grants to assist the county and taxpayers, in funding case management and research systems,” he stated. “Things that make lawyers much more effective, and save taxpayers money. Dennis had a vision in that area, and was successful in pushing things through. It is a larger and more effective office.”
“It is the type of office Dennis can be proud of,” he added. “The taxpayers ought to be, too. It’s a shame it’s not as much appreciated as it should be.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney Dennis Christy, who supervises the desert region, said:
“I know everyone wishes him the best. He was able to accomplish a great deal.”
“To withdraw from the race was certainly a very difficult decision,” Christy added. “He made it for the right reasons.”
Lough said it was unlikely Stout could have won the November election.
Stout said he is “proud of the positive campaign” he waged in the primary, adding, “once a campaign is over…it’s over.”
“The protection of the public is far too important to allow anything from the sting of battle to affect decision-making that could possibly alter what should be the right thing to do,” he wrote. “The office must now be free of the distraction of a contentious campaign so that maximum efforts can be given to the true and important business that we do.”
Stout said he intends to finish his term “finishing additional things that I have started” and helping to “provide a smooth transition for the future.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company