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Dumanis Challenged To Release Records In Chula Vista Political Probe

Above: Bonnie Dumanis speaks at a luncheon at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, March 30, 2005.

Aired 5/7/14 on KPBS News.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' decision to delay releasing the records sought by KPBS was questioned Tuesday by her opponent in the DA's race and one of his supporters.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' office says it needs more time to determine whether to release records of its controversial investigations of Chula Vista politicians.

The District Attorney's Office originally told KPBS in late March that it did not possess records concerning a phone call ex-Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla said he got from Dumanis in 2005.

But when KPBS sent a Public Records Act request to Patrick O'Toole – the prosecutor who handled the Chula Vista investigations – he gathered the records in just hours and gave them to officials in the District Attorney's Office.

Dumanis' office said it never asked O'Toole if he had the documents because typically that information is kept in a case file that has long since been closed.

Former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye address the media, May 6, 2014.

But the information sought by KPBS was not about case pleadings and motions. It was related to Padilla's assertion that Dumanis had asked him to appoint her aide to a vacant City Council seat in that 2005 call. Within weeks of Padilla's refusal, Dumanis initiated an investigation of the entire Chula Vista council.

On Monday, the District Attorney's Office told KPBS that it needed more time because the request was not restricted to records O'Toole handed over. KPBS promptly amended its request to ask for only what O'Toole has delivered. The office still has not released the records.

On Tuesday, Donna Frye, a former San Diego city councilwoman and open government advocate, called on Dumanis to make the emails public. Frye also is supporting attorney Robert Brewer in his campaign to try to unseat Dumanis this year.

"The public not only deserves but demands that their top legal official and law enforcement officer in the county comply with the basic laws such as the Public Records Act," Frye said. "I think to do anything less is a complete and utter of violation of the public trust."

Frye spoke as a private citizen, not as president of the board of the open government nonprofit advocacy group Californians Aware.

She made her comments at a joint news conference with Brewer, a former federal prosecutor.

Brewer has sought to capitalize on Dumanis’ failure to turn over the records. He called on her to release them during the news conference held across the street from Dumanis' office.

"Now that we know they exist, when are we going to see them?" Brewer said.

Dumanis has directed her staff to "review these documents and release everything appropriate," her campaign spokeswoman, Jen Tierney, said in a statement issued in response to the demands from Brewer and Frye.

"The District Attorney won't be rushed to release these documents before they are properly reviewed because it might win a few votes. That would be the absolute definition of politics over public safety. She'll leave that to Bob Brewer," Tierney said.

Dumanis is seeking her fourth, four-year term as district attorney.

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Avatar for user 'RCPhill808'

RCPhill808 | May 6, 2014 at 7:35 p.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago

If Bonnie Dumanis has nothing to hide, she should have been at today's news conference with the requested documents in hand, waiving them furiously for everyone to see. Her office is right there so it's not like she couldn't find the place. Instead, she says she needs a couple of weeks to review what so obviously is central to her questionable conduct which has immersed the District Attorney's Office into controversy, ethical violations, vindictive prosecutions, and other prosecutorial misconduct. How much do you want to bet that "14 days" is going to stretch on past June 3rd? Note to Bonnie: "What goes around, comes around." Time to step aside and let Bob Brewer work to undo the damage you've done to Ed Miller's once-proud legacy.

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Avatar for user 'deenie'

deenie | May 6, 2014 at 8:18 p.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago

The arrogance displayed by Ms Dumanis, under these very serious circumstances,
makes it clear we need a new DA. She makes Chris Christie look like a choir boy. At least he was apologetic.
Time to bring decency, transparency and Ethics back to the District Attorney's Office.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | May 7, 2014 at 7:35 a.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago

how long before the public hates the next d.a.?

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Avatar for user 'Prosecutor'

Prosecutor | May 7, 2014 at 8:01 a.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago

Deny and delay, the mantra of the corrupt politician.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | May 7, 2014 at 11:15 a.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago


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