After being elected the Los Angeles County District Attorney in November, George Gascón is already facing a recall effort. The effort has widespread support from crime victims to the Los Angeles County Sheriff to even Gascón's own prosecutors. Some of the controversial actions landing Gascón on the hot seat include:
- Getting rid of sentencing enhancements.
- Ending the death penalty.
- No longer trying juveniles as adults.
- Greatly restricting the circumstances when prosecutors can hold defendants without bail.
- Hiring an assistant D.A. who previously called the LAPD "barbarians" and is for the abolition of prisons.
Unsurprisingly, Gascón was backed during the election by a PAC that received at least $1.5 million from liberal billionaire George Soros. Soros has been actively involved in influencing district and state attorney races across the country:
Conservatives have been accused of turning Soros into a boogeyman but according to Dan Gainor, vice president at the conservative Media Research Center, and others, Soros's influence is real.
"This has been a Soros-funded operation for several years designed to influence local legal systems around the country," he told Fox News on Wednesday. Gainor's organization regularly reports on and tracks funding from Soros-backed entities.
Gainor pointed to a Los Angeles Times report on Soros spending more than $16 million on county races outside of California. That 2018 report said the billionaire's spending in California topped $2.7 million.
Gainor added that Soros paid the American Civil Liberties Union $50 million.
"Soros knows that district attorneys and states attorneys have incredible power," Gainor said. "He threw $2 million into the campaign of Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx, who dropped the charges in the Jussie Smollett case."
One of Gascón's policies has already been blocked by the Los Angeles County Superior Court after a union representing Gascón's own prosecutors sued him. As reported by NPR last month:
The lawsuit contested Gascón's policy of barring the use of sentencing enhancements. The union argued under California's three-strikes law, prosecutors don't have discretion "to refuse to seek the enhancement."
Sentencing enhancements mandate that those convicted of serious crimes, and have a prior conviction, receive longer sentences than those who are convicted of the same crime, but have no criminal record. Prosecutors in LA would commonly seek longer prison terms for criminal defendants with past felony convictions, or for being suspected of being a gang member.
Judge James Chalfant agreed with the union's argument that Gascón's rules broke California's three-strikes law, which states, "[t]he prosecuting attorney shall plead and prove each prior serious or violent felony conviction" of a criminal defendant.
Chalfant said the three-strikes law must "be applied in every case in which the defendant has a prior serious or violent conviction, and that the prosecuting attorney 'shall plead and prove' the strike prior" except in cases where the prior offense can't be proved.
The Santa Clarita City Council is also set to consider a no-confidence vote for Gascón at their next meeting based on three of his directives that together pose "a potential immediate and detrimental impact to public safety" in the words of the Council.
The recall petition must receive signatures from at least 10% of Los Angeles voters to trigger a recall election.
Los Angeles County is a great example of how crucial elections at all levels of government are.