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California Legislature

Assemblywoman asks Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to drop electioneering prosecution of 86-year-old activist

Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) called Tuesday for state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to drop the prosecution of an 86-year-old Republican activist for electioneering after the woman was videotaped allegedly making calls to voters within 100 feet of a polling place.

The attorney general’s office has filed two misdemeanor charges of electioneering against Edith Knight of Atascadero for actions during the June 7 presidential primary election. Knight is a delegate to the California Republican Party.

“I urge you, as Attorney General, to focus on issues that will benefit California and its citizens,” Melendez wrote in a letter to Becerra. “Your office can do good and important things. Prosecuting senior citizens for minor and unintentional infractions, however, does neither. I urge you to forgo the prosecution of Edie Knight in this case and refocus your priorities to protect and serve the people of California.”

Knight denied that she was electioneering. She said she was calling voters to urge them to vote, but without recommending who to vote for, and she was in the lobby of the building, in a separate room from the polling booths. "I was just poll watching," she said.

The case was referred to Becerra's office by the District Attorney's Office of San Luis Obispo County, officials said.

Knight's trial is tentatively set for May 30 in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.

Melendez also questioned Becerra’s handling of another issue.

“Ironically, this [Knight] prosecution is taking place at the same time your office has declined to explore malfeasance and possible illegal activity in the University of California Office of the President,” she wrote in the letter.

Update 11:50 am: Story was updated to include information that referral of case came from San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office.

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