After accusing Madera County District Attorney David Linn of “harassing, discriminatory and abusive conduct” last week, the Madera County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution Monday to formally censure Linn, while agreeing to release the 39-page investigative report about him.
The complete ‘redacted’ report obscuring or removing sensitive information was released Monday. A copy of the report is available online at https://goo.gl/64vtSK.
The supervisors hired Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, an employment and labor relations law firm with an office in Fresno to investigate the allegations, and it was the summary of the investigative findings, dated Nov. 20, that the supervisors used as the basis for the resolution - which read in part “the board is profoundly disappointed by, and disapproving of, the conduct of District Attorney David A. Linn.”
The allegations that Linn made repeated sexist or sexually explicit comments to and about employees and female crime victims had been ‘sustained’ as a result of the investigation, the summary states.
A prepared statement from the supervisors, released Nov. 21, stated the board has “recently been made aware of allegations of serious workplace misconduct” by Linn including “allegations of racist comments, sexist, lewd and offensive comments, and generally abusive, threatening and profane comments.”
The resolution also stated that the “accounts of Linn’s workplace misconduct have been verified by multiple witnesses during the course of a thorough, independent professional investigation, and that Linn’s conduct includes regularly making offensive, degrading, and/or sexually suggestive comments to or about women, including crime victims, and multiple documented sources give accounts of frequent outbursts of anger and inappropriate behavior with his staff members including threatening remarks and offensive comments about their physical appearance, race or gender.”
The resolution goes on to say “Linn’s conduct is unbecoming of an elected district attorney and has tarnished the reputation of the Madera County District Attorney’s office.”
County Counsel Regina Garza said the board was made aware of serious workplace misconduct, and that an investigation concluded findings were sufficient enough to sustain the allegations.
Kimberly Horiuchi, an attorney with Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, interviewed 10 to 12 witnesses and others who had relevant information, including photos, written notes, text messages and emails.
After stating some of the information would be disturbing,’ Horiuchi gave the board a few of Linn’s specific alleged sexual comments about women.
When it came to racist remarks, Horiuchi said Linn used the “N” word often, as well as “wetback and spic,” and that Native Americans only “care about beer.”
Monday’s resolution also stated that Linn would not be allowed to retaliate against any employee who has come forward.
Reading from a statement, board chairman Max Rodriguez said, “It was shocking to learn the level to which the district attorney subjected his employees to racist and sexist comments, and other inappropriate conduct.”
The fallout from the report being made public was immediate. The Madera County Prosecutors Association announced Monday it no longer supports Linn’s re-election in 2018.
In a Nov. 21 prepared statement, Linn categorically denied all the allegations and said he’s being targeted by the supervisors because two of them - David Rogers and Brett Frazier - are under investigation by his office for potential wrongdoing.
Linn said he was shocked and saddened by the county’s press release last week, which occurred immediately after the brief meeting he had with the board.
“I had been told for over a month that I was not the subject for investigation or action,” Linn stated. “The Chief Administrative Officer of the county, Eric Fleming, told me that the investigation and meeting was about the conduct of one disgruntled employee, who had previously made claims against the district attorneys of Tuolumne and Stanislaus counties.”
Linn further stated the board’s scheduling of a meeting on Nov. 21 and a special meeting on Nov. 27, both fell within the period he had planned on being out of state for the Thanksgiving holiday. “I do not believe this is an innocent coincidence.”
In his prepared statement, Linn noted the board of supervisors is aware of the fact that he is attempting to clean up Madera County and is preparing to prosecute corruption charges against two of the members of the board.
“I believe these actions are political retaliation from the board and administration to my well- known policy against corruption in Madera County,” Linn continued.
Standing before the supervisors Monday morning, Linn said, “This is not about what I did. This is political retribution. I took office to be open, to be transparent and to clean up Madera County, and most citizens know that’s exactly what I’m doing. This is one complaint filed against me by one disgruntled employee, who did the same thing in two other counties.”
“It’s very political,” Linn said of the accusations. “The board is controlled by developers who are unhappy that Supervisors Frazier and Rogers are under investigation by my office.
“You’ve called for my resignation - that will not happen,” Linn emphatically told the board. “You’d like to fire me, but you can’t fire me because I don’t work for you. I work for the citizens of Madera County. I am here to prosecute criminal activity, whether I find it in the ghettos of Madera, in the hills of Eastern Madera County, or sitting in the chairs of the county board of supervisors ... so gentlemen, you aren’t off the hook ... you’re afraid ... developers from Fresno County are cutting up our county, the supervisors have no interest in representing their constituents ... it’s all about lining your pockets and making your retirements comfortable ...
Linn said he’s seeking re-election next year in the June 5 primary, and said that since he became district attorney in early 2015, turnover at the office is at a record low.
Before leaving the podium, he thanked the board for “putting on [a] show.”
After the meeting, Linn told the media he never made those statements (in the investigative report), and he never would.
“They don’t sound like me,” Linn said. “I may be a little old and a little crusty from my Navy years, but I just don’t say those kinds of things.”
Roger and Frazier respond
In response to Linn, Supervisor Rogers said the board is not opposed to the DA doing his job as DA, and that he (Linn) has the right to investigate crime wherever he finds it.
“But that’s not why we’re here today,” Rogers said. “ We’re here today because of the actions of the DA, which led to a complaint by an employee, which was substantiated by multiple people. This is about what’s going on in our county, not other counties. We have a legal and moral obligation to protect them (county employees) from the kind of behaviors exhibited by the DA, to provide a workplace free of sexual harassment, of intimidation and threat ... This is not about me or this board. We don’t hate the DA, it’s about his actions, and these actions have consequences.”
Supervisor Frazier added, “It’s about the people’s right to know exactly what someone is doing in political office. You hire and fire the DA and you should have all the information available to do that. You can draw your own conclusions from the report. As to the investigation about me, I will look you dead in your eye (turning towards Linn), and tell you, you came to me and told me, there was nothing to the investigation, to come to your office next week and we’ll close it out.”
Rogers corroborated that Frazier was “exactly right,” that he witnessed Frazier being told the investigation would be closed. “Now, all that’s changed. It’s interesting the timing of the change. Mr. Linn’s statements have evolved. First we’re under investigation and now we’re going to be prosecuted for wrongdoing. I’ve never been questioned ... I don’t even know what the charges would be.”
In so many words, Rogers said Linn is attempting to deflect attention away from the accusations against him to focus on someone else.
Linn defeated Keitz
Michael Keitz was elected district attorney in 2010 after Ernie LiCalsi retired (and became a Madera County Superior Court Judge), and Linn defeated Keitz in 2014.
During the election, the supervisors also had an outside lawyer investigate how Keitz interacted with his office staff, but the report was never released because Keitz had a judge place an injuction on the report.
Sally Moreno, a former county prosecutor, who left about six months after Linn’s arrival, is running against Linn in the June election.