When I got to the fundraiser Monday night for L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, I was told the press was not welcome.
Why not? I wondered.
You'd think Baca would want the world to know that, despite one debacle after another in his department — including the indictment of 18 current and former staffers earlier Monday for alleged beatings of inmates and other crimes — he still had supporters who were willing to be seen in public.
The cost of Monday night's love-in, by the way, was $1,500 a ticket.
"Help Re-Elect Our Friend," the invitation said.
It listed former Gov. Gray Davis, celebrity attorney Mark Geragos and former City Atty. Carmen Trutanich as hosts.
OK, so that's not exactly an A-list of backers. Two of them were unceremoniously voted out of office and the other one simultaneously defended Michael Jackson against molestation charges and Scott Peterson against murder charges.
Still, I was looking forward to asking them how they figure that Baca deserves a fifth term at the helm of what might be the most mismanaged, scandal-plagued public department in all of California.
"Don't harass these people," Baca spokesman Steve Whitmore warned me and TV reporter Dave Bryan outside Engine Company No. 28, a downtown L.A. restaurant owned by Geragos.
Harass them? I just wanted to hear their logic because, who knows? Maybe I'm missing something.
Whitmore said Davis would not be attending, but it wasn’t clear why not. Did his car break down? Did he
have a headache? Did he come to his senses? Maybe Baca had come to his senses and decided that after a day like the one he’d had, he should be in hiding rather than asking for money.
For a while, it looked like nobody would be attending. A waiter told me 25 to 30 people had been expected, but the number was scaled back to about 15.
But, for all his problems, Baca is going to be hard to beat in 2014.
Because he's already raised a few hundred thousand dollars and has made a ton of connections after being in office so many years.
Because the opponent with the most name recognition, Paul Tanaka, was Baca's right-hand man for many years and bears some responsibility for the department's problems.
Because Baca will run on a decline in crime rates.
And because a lot of voters can't get too riled about guards roughing up inmates.
When Linda Dolson and Trish Steele arrived at the fundraiser and I asked why, Dolson had a simple answer: "Because he's a big supporter of our charity," she said, referring to Safe Passages, which assists victims of domestic violence and their children.
"Baca is a very meek, humble, wonderful man," Steele said.