Teflon Sheriff Lee Baca Broke Law When He Appeared in Uniform to Endorse Carmen Trutanich for D.A.
We call Lee Baca the Teflon Sheriff because, after years of allegations of inmate abuse at the hands of his deputies, you keep electing him. Nothing seems to stick.
To be fair Baca is a high-level leader, and you can't always blame every deputy's action on the boss. (And Baca's never been much of a buck-stops-here kind of guy anyway.)
Well, here's one oopsy you can pin on the county's top cop:
The sheriff admitted over the weekend that he broke the law when he appeared in uniform for an endorsement of City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's run for county District Attorney.
The appearance was caught on video and posted to Trutanich's campaign website (it appears to have since been taken down).
carmentrutanich.comTrutanich almost seems forlorn about this whole thing.
In the video, which features a close-up shot of his badge, Baca says:
No job is too big. No responsibility is too small. Carmen Trutanich is about those values.
In an unusual move for Baca, the Times quickly received a mea culpa from the sheriff. (Law enforcement officials aren't supposed to use the color of authority -- e.g. appearances in uniform -- to make political endorsements.)
He told the paper:
There's no excuse. I should've known.
Well, maybe a law enforcement official can be excused, but it can be debated whether one who has run for office many times should be. The Times notes that Baca appeared in his sheriff's jacket in a speech in favor of then-City Council candidate Bernard Parks.
Trutanich had no comment.
The transgression is minor as far as law breaking goes, and experts say it probably wouldn't be considered a serious crime -- if any prosecutors would even take up the matter at all.
Political watchdog Bob Stern told the paper:
How ironic that the chief law enforcement officer in the county and the campaign for the person who wants to be the chief prosecutor doesn't know what the law is.
Read more here.