06 Nov D.A. George Gascon Must Recuse Himself From City Council Secret Recording Case Because of Conflicts of Interest, Says Former L.A. Ethics Commission President
In order to protect the interests of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, Gascon must step aside to avoid the appearance that his personal interests influenced the way the case was handled,’ says Nathan Hochman, former L.A. City Ethics Commission President and candidate for District Attorney
LOS ANGELES, November 6, 2023 – Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascon must recuse himself from prosecution decisions related to the secret recording last year of three Los Angeles City Council members and the president of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, said Nathan Hochman, former President of the L.A. City Ethics Commission and the leading candidate to replace Gascon as District Attorney.
While Gascon was reviewing evidence of potential criminal violations by two former federation employees related to the secret recording, Gascon obtained the endorsement of the federation for his re-election. Gascon is facing one of the most contentious re-election campaigns in the history of the DA’s office, with Hochman leading a field of nine challengers against him.
“It is a clear conflict of interest for an elected district attorney to seek political endorsements from figures at the center of a criminal investigation his office is reviewing,” Mr. Hochman said. “In order to protect the interests of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, Gascon must step aside to avoid the appearance that his personal interests have influenced the way the case is being handled.”
In October 2022, news broke about a secret audio recording of a meeting involving L.A. City Council members Nury Martinez, Kevin De Leon and Gil Cedillo, and Ron Herrera, then-President of the L.A. County Federation of Labor. The recorded conversation contained racist and other disturbing comments by several of those at the meeting.
On October 12, 2023, the Los Angeles Times reported that a spokesperson for Gascon said the DA’s Office had reviewed the evidence about the allegedly illegal recording and sent the case back to the LAPD for “further investigation.” Ten days later, on October 22, 2023, The Times reported that Gascon had “claimed the endorsement of [the] Federation of Labor.”
According to news reports, the LAPD has investigated two former federation employees related to the secret recording at the federation offices. Under California Penal Code section 632, it is a felony to eavesdrop upon or record a conversation without the participants’ authorization.
During the conversation, Councilwoman Martinez made disparaging and racist comments about Gascon, “further affecting Gascon’s ability to handle the case impartially without creating an appearance of a conflict of interest,” Hochman said.
“It would be impossible to have faith in any decision Gascon makes in this case,” Hochman said. “If he brings the case against the former federation employees, there will always be a question as to whether it is a righteous prosecution or a political payback. To ensure there is no such cloud over this decision, Gascon must recuse himself immediately and allow an independent prosecuting agency to make the decision. Only in that way can the Federation of Labor, other victims, and the public be assured that the prosecutor acted impartially and not as a result of political bias.”