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LA County DA Gascón Defeats 2nd Recall Election Attempt

By Hailey Konnath · Aug 15, 2022, 11:46 PM EDT ·

Proponents of the latest effort to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón have once again failed to collect enough valid signatures for a recall election, the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk said Monday.

Earlier this summer, the recall campaign — the second formal recall effort launched against the Democrat — submitted a petition with 715,833 signatures. The county registrar's office said Monday that 195,783 of those signatures were invalid, meaning the petition was short of the 566,857 valid signatures needed for the effort to progress.

"[T]herefore, the petition has failed to meet the sufficiency requirements and no further action shall be taken on the petition," the registrar's office said in a statement.

Gascón, who took office in December 2020, ran on promises of criminal justice reform. Those policies have divided the county, with supporters heralding the reforms as courageous and overdue while his critics slammed them as "extreme and against the law."

Most of the signatures found invalid — roughly 88,500 — were from individuals not registered to vote, according to Monday's statement. An additional 43,600 signatures were duplicates and about 32,100 had a different address, the office said. Other reasons signatures were invalid included out-of-county addresses, mismatched signatures or canceled signatures, per the statement.

Gascón said Monday that he was grateful to move forward from what he called an "attempted political power grab."

"Rest assured, L.A. County, the work hasn't stopped," he said on Twitter. "My primary focus has been and will always be keeping us safe and creating a more equitable justice system for all. I remain strongly committed to that work and to you."

Representatives of the recall effort couldn't be immediately reached for comment late Monday. However, earlier this month, the campaign accused the registrar of not following current signature verification laws. In particular, the campaign said in its Aug. 8 statement that the registrar was rejecting signatures too quickly.

"[A]ccording to records provided by the registrar, the current process and training materials being utilized are outdated and call for a standard of review that does not comport with current law," the campaign said at the time. "For example, the materials call for a reviewer to reject a signature if there are "repeated small differences," even if there are a "great number of general similarities."

The recall effort itself has been divisive, with its supporters arguing that the fight is purely about Gascón and his tenure, and those who support Gascón viewing the effort as part of a broader backlash against criminal justice reform.

Gascón was elected last November, ousting Jackie Lacey, who had been district attorney since 2012 and the first Black woman to hold that position. She was criticized by Black Lives Matter activists, who say more than 600 people were killed by law enforcement during her tenure.

After being sworn in, Gascón quickly unveiled a laundry list of major policy changes, some of which have frustrated prosecutors.

Those changes include establishing a use-of-force review board to look into police abuse allegations dating to 2012 and ending the practice of charging kids as adults. The district attorney's office will no longer file misdemeanors for first-time, nonviolent offenders, he said. And Gascón said his office plans to look into old cases to determine whether incarcerated individuals could be eligible for lighter sentences or release.

The union representing Los Angeles County prosecutors sued Gascón last year, accusing him of "political cronyism" by appointing ineligible political supporters to certain protected positions in his office.

Ultimately, the organization successfully obtained an injunction against Gascón's directives that prosecutors stop filing certain "enhancements" when filing charges, including enhancements for firearms allegations and those relating to prior offenses. A court ruled in 2021 that these policies went against California law.

--Additional reporting by Emma Cueto. Editing by Michael Watanabe.

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