It all started with “a staff member” from Carl DeMaio’s mayoral campaign leaking an email from U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, who was unhappy with Congressman Bob Filner for lashing out in response to attacks by the City Councilman, who had just re-stated his oft disproved claims about Filner’s pension.
This ‘leak’ was to be yet another salvo in a last ditch campaign to portray Filner as too unreasonable and hostile to be Mayor of San Diego. Instead, it’s blown up in his face. Questions about whether Duffy was in violation of the Hatch Act, which restricts the activities of government employees in partisan political campaigns, are now at the forefront of the controversy.
Now this action by the DeMaio campaign has led to calls for the U.S. Attorney to resign and a review of her actions by Justice Department officials, according to NBC/7 News. Steve Peace of the Independent Voter Network has written an op-ed calling for her resignation based, he says, on her refusal to listen to appeals from friends and associates that she step down.
“And then rather than cutting her losses”, Peace told NBC’s Gene Cubison, “she participates in an interview with the San Diego Union and proceeds to talk more.”
Rep. Bob Filner has joined the fray over the past two days, calling on U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy to step down from her post for wading into theSan Diegomayoral race.
“The U.S.attorney should resign because she got involved in a campaign,” Filner said in Wednesday night’s NBC San Diego debate with San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican. “That’s against certainly the spirit of the law if not the exact letter of the law.”
Voice of San Diego is up with a story saying that two legal experts (Both former Bush administration lawyers) have told them that, unless Duffy conspired with DeMaio’s campaign to release the correspondence, they believe she’s within the law. They were also critical of the DeMaio campaign for releasing the emails in the first place. From VOSD:
DeMaio later used Duffy’s donation and comments to imply he had her backing.
“I’m supported by Mayor Jerry Sanders. I’m supported by the leading Democrat donor, Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. Laura Duffy, the U.S. attorney, donated to my campaign and today commented about her displeasure with the congressman’s temperament,” DeMaio said at a campaign forum last week.
DeMaio is now taking responsibility for the leaked email, calling it “an unfortunate mistake by one of our campaign staffers” during the Wednesday night debate.
This is an edited version of Doug Porter’s daily column, The Starting Line, at San Diego Free Press.