The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has recently taken stride to hand itself the power to boot Sheriff Alex Villanueva from office.
The board chose, in a 4-1 vote, to approve the motion that would call for the current acting counsel for the county to write up a proposed ballot measure for this coming November that would allow the board the power to kick the sheriff out of office. The draft would need to be approved before qualifying for ballot placement in the fall. The new measure was brought forth by Holly Mitchell, the Board Chair, and Supervisor Hilda Solis, as reported by Los Angeles Magazine.
“We can’t just sit back and watch the destruction of a wayward sheriff,” explained Solis, who was a co-writer of the motion, as reported by the Washington Examiner. “If the sheriff is not able to follow the law … and engages in misconduct, the board needs stronger mechanisms to check this harmful behavior.”
Despite being a moderate Democrat, Villanueva has consistently challenged the Board about its stance on “defund the police,” its part in letting the homeless population spike, along with its approval of various social welfare initiatives for criminals in lieu of going to prison, explained the Examiner.
All requests for statements were told to look toward Sheriff Villanueva’s public response to the Board of Supervisors, inside which he labeled the action as an “unprecedented motion” that “would allow corrupt Board members to intimidate sheriffs from carrying out their official duties to investigate crime.”
He highlighted that the measure was created to stand on an earlier motion first started by former Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who is looking down the barrel of a trial this coming fall and has “been indicted on 20 counts of public corruption for alleged criminal acts committed while serving as the chair” of the Board.
The sheriff claimed that the proposal would most likely be labeled as entirely unconstitutional in court. “The fact the authors of this motion never sought an opinion from County Counsel or constitutional law expert, regarding its constitutionality, speaks volumes as to the intent,” he went on.
The statement highlighted that there are currently four methods of removing an elected Sherrif from office which includes elections, recall elections, creating a civil grand jury, or “using the authority already vested in the state attorney general,”: highlighting that the Board “conveniently” forgot to highlight the fourth of those options. He went on to add that the measure “is a recipe for public corruption, particularly when ‘cause’ remains so broad and undefined.”
At no point did Villanueva hold back in his calling out of the Board of Supervisors in their grab for additional powers in order to dismiss him, stating “[t]his Board is attempting to cheat the system and create a ‘fast track’ pathway to remove a duly elected sheriff, one which circumvents the law and the foundational principles of due process enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
“You are not, ‘putting it in the hands of the voters.’ You are putting it in the hands of political activists who wrote the basis for this motion and the same political activists whose mission is to abolish law enforcement and redirect the public safety budget to their own 501(c)3 non-governmental organizations,” he went on, seemingly making a reference to the various “defund the police” initiatives.
Villanueva also highlighted that the board has already stated, quite publicly, that is stands in support of his opponent, which leads the sheriff to think that “it is highly unethical for you to put this motion forward” because of that fact.
Just last week, the Republican National Committee came forth with a statement of its own, saying that the measure is “another prime example of how Democrats like to change the rules when they don’t get their way.”
“Not only is Sheriff Villanueva an elected official, he’s one of the few who has been willing to stand up to the board for reducing law enforcement funding and effectively endangering the lives of Angelenos,” per the RNC, as reported by Fox News and LA Mag. “… This decision from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors would attempt to bully the elected sheriff into doing what they want and would be yet another blow to a free and fair democracy, thanks to California Democrats.”