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Inland Empire Political News.001
Inland Empire Political News.001

Did District Attorney Cross the Line?

The reelection campaign for San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos appears to be off to a rough beginning.

Ramos has drawn a formidable opponent from within his own department, Deputy District Attorney Grover Merritt. Merritt is a highly experienced Deputy DA, who, for many years, was the lead attorney in appellant cases arguing before the California State Supreme Court on numerous occasions. He is also the past President of the San Bernardino County Public Attorney’s Association.

Ramos and Merritt also have a history. Merritt was fired from his job in the District Attorney’s office ten years ago and filed a lawsuit which the County settled resulting in Merritt being returned to his position along with $300,000 in damages. Merritt had been considering running for District Attorney at the time of his firing, which many speculate was the actual cause of his termination.

With less than three months until the June election, the campaign season is heating up. Ramos consultant David Ellis popped off a press release complaining loudly that Merritt is receiving significant financial support from West End business people who happen to be friends with Jeff Burum, a defendant in the four year old Colonies Case. Ellis even retorted to the Sun Newspaper that “It’s felony stupid for Jeff Burum’s business partner to be contributing in the district attorney’s race, period.”

The news release even provided links to the campaign contributor’s business’s liquor license. Now, intimidation in politics isn’t uncommon. But, when an agent of the District Attorney, in this case his paid campaign consultant, attempts to intimidate citizens from engaging their 1st Amendment constitutional rights, that steps over an ethical line. We aren’t talking about a City Councilman or County Supervisor here. We are talking about the District Attorney, the lead law enforcement agent of the County who has the ability to prosecute persons for crimes, real or perceived. Do Grand Juries and Ham Sandwiches ring any bells?

Worse for Ramos and his quick-witted consultant, the effort to besmirch donors to Grover Merritt appears to have backfired. Not only did this stunt not deter donations to Merritt’s campaign, it appears to be accelerating them. Word on the street is that this obvious effort to intimidate people has only made them angry and more willing to take out their check books.

It will be an exciting election.

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