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Politics

Richard Riordan Called D.A. Steve Cooley To Demand Investigation Of SEIU Petition Tactics

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Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 12:08 PM

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Steve Cooley
Former mayor Richard Riordan was so upset about SEIU's efforts to thwart his pension initiative that he personally called up D.A. Steve Cooley to seek an investigation.

Riordan was angry about an email from Paul Kim, an SEIU employee, telling workers that "We need union members hitting the streets signing Riordan's petition with fake names / addresses."

Riordan's attorney, Ashlee Titus, sent the D.A. a letter on Tuesday asking for an investigation of Election Code violations. But Riordan also got on the phone to plead directly with Cooley.


Cooley told the former mayor to put his concerns in writing, and said he would forward it to the D.A.'s Public Integrity Division, said Sandi Gibbons, the D.A's spokeswoman. As of this morning, no investigation or inquiry has been opened, Gibbons said. 

Dave Demerjian, the head of the Public Integrity Division, said he had not received the complaint.

Riordan must gather about 250,000 valid signatures by Dec. 7 in order to put his pension reform initiative on the May ballot. The initiative would require city workers to contribute substantially more toward their pensions, and convert all new city workers -- including police, fire and DWP workers -- to 401(k) plans.

City unions, including SEIU Local 721, have mobilized in an effort to prevent Riordan from gathering enough signatures. Their efforts include standing at Riordan's tables outside supermarkets and attempting to dissuade shoppers from signing the petition, as well as asking people to sign petitions withdrawing their signatures.

An SEIU spokesman said that Kim had been disciplined for suggesting that workers sign fake names on the Riordan petition.

"SEIU 721 in no way recommends that its members or anyone else falsify signatures on any petition," spokesman Ian Thompson said in a statement. "We are firmly against that kind of behavior. The email in question was sent without the knowledge of the union's leadership."

Asked about the criminal inquiry, Thompson said, "We think it's over and done with. It's a non-issue."

Riordan gave $1,000 to Cooley's officeholder account in 2011, and another $6,500 to Cooley's 2010 campaign for attorney general.

"They've admitted to tinkering with the democratic process," said Riordan's spokesman, John Schwada. "As I understand it, they agreed to investigate it."

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