SAN DIEGO -- Former Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley has called for an additional criminal investigation into the case of alleged improper political donations to the campaign of San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis.
In a letter this week to California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, Cooley said that although there was already a federal criminal case underway, there may be “violations of state and municipal codes” that are outside the jurisdiction of federal prosecutors.
Dumanis is currently seeking reelection. Cooley has endorsed her opponent, former Los Angeles prosecutor Bob Brewer.
A spokeswoman for the Dumanis campaign dismissed Cooley’s letter: “It’s a campaign stunt.”
“I’m a supporter of Bob Brewer,” Cooley responded, “but I’m also a 40-year prosecutor.”
Dumanis has not been charged in the federal case in San Diego, nor are there any allegations that she knew the donations to her failed 2012 mayoral campaign were being made by “straw donors” to mask the fact that the money came from a Mexican business tycoon.
The law forbids donations by foreign nationals.
In his letter, Cooley said that Harris had a conflict of interest because she had endorsed Dumanis’ reelection campaign and should therefore appoint a special prosecutor. If she does not, Cooley said he would ask the presiding judge of the San Diego County Superior Court to appoint a special prosecutor to take the case to the county grand jury.
Cooley, in an interview, said the issue was a test of whether Harris “will do the right thing and not put her head in the sand.” He declined to discuss his opinion of Dumanis as district attorney, saying only that he “stands behind Bob Brewer.”
A retired San Diego police officer has pleaded guilty to funneling money into the 2012 campaign. Trials are pending for other defendants, including the Mexican businessman.
Cooley served three terms as L.A. County district attorney before being defeated by Harris in 2012 in a race for attorney general. Dumanis is seeking her fourth term as San Diego County district attorney.