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Campaign Consultant Says He Is Not Reason For District Attorney Recusal

Republican campaign consultant Jason Roe is seen in this undated photo.

Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle / Voice of San Diego

Above: Republican campaign consultant Jason Roe is seen in this undated photo.

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate and interim District Attorney Summer Stephan share the same consultant for their election campaigns. The consultant, Jason Roe, said that had nothing to do with why Stephan recused herself from a criminal investigation involving Cate.

The investigation of City Councilman Chris Cate for his disclosure of a confidential city attorney's memo has been passed around like a political hot potato. First the City Attorney's Office recused itself, saying that because the leak came from a city employee, it could not prosecute its own client. It referred the investigation to the District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit.

Then last week, interim District Attorney Summer Stephan passed the investigation on to the state Attorney General's Office.

A statement announcing the referral offered no concrete explanation for why the District Attorney's Office could not continue with the investigation, saying only that the DA was "focused on pursing justice and fairness in an equal manner for all, with no regard for politics or political parties" and that the referral was "to ensure public trust in the impartiality of the review in this case."

The statement concluded with the line: "There will be no further statements on this issue."

RELATED: San Diego Councilman Apparently Used Personal Email To Leak Confidential Memo

Two main facts have emerged as speculation for why Stephan recused her office from the case: First, Cate had endorsed Stephan in her bid to be elected district attorney. Stephan was appointed to serve as interim DA after the resignation of her former boss, Bonnie Dumanis, and hopes to be elected to the position next year.

Second, Cate and Stephan, both Republicans, share the same campaign consultant, Jason Roe. Cate is up for reelection to his District 6 City Council seat next year.

Roe told KPBS on Monday that he had not spoken with Stephan on the memo investigation, and that he would not speculate on her reasons for referring the case to the Attorney General's Office. He did, however, say he was not the reason.

"I don't know why Summer would conduct herself any differently because I'm her consultant and I'm Chris's consultant," he said. "She and I have never had a single conversation about his situation, and I think we're both conscientious about maintaining a separation when it comes to my responsibilities for other clients."

An archived version of Stephan's website lists Chris Cate among her endorsements. Cate, along with two other Republican city councilmen, have since been removed from the page.

Cate admitted earlier this month to giving the confidential memo over to consultants for the Soccer City initiative, which seeks to redevelop the former Chargers stadium property.

The City Attorney's Office said this may have violated the city's ethics ordinance, which prohibits city officials from disclosing confidential information unless doing so is essential to their jobs. Cate said he handed the memo over to get feedback from Soccer City proponents in advance of a City Council vote to approve the initiative outright or place it on the ballot.

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