Mayor’s Race: Spotlight on Bonnie Dumanis

by on August 17, 2011 · 6 comments

in Election, Popular, San Diego

by Lucas O’Connor / Two Cathedrals / August 16, 2011

We recently touched on mayor candidate Nathan Fletcher’s transparently unethical hiring practices, paying for campaign staff with taxpayer dollars. Today we turn the spotlight to another mayoral candidate, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

The most obvious ethics question facing the Dumanis campaign is also rather superficial, at least on its face. The official government site for the District Attorney’s office and the Dumanis campaign website have significantly overlapping biographies for Dumanis. In fact, entire paragraphs appear on both sites verbatim, raising a number of red flags.

First and foremost, if staff time and resources went into writing this bio and now entire chunks of it are being used for the campaign, it’s the same sort of fundamental misappropriation of taxpayer dollars for personal gain that Nathan Fletcher is doing on a larger scale. If it’s the other way around, and the campaign wrote the bio and then the official government site picked it up, then Dumanis is using the District Attorney website as an extension of the campaign, reinforcing messaging and playing politics with the county’s judicial system. Heck, the DA’s website even has a copyright notice at the bottom of the bio page. I mean c’mon, there’s no de facto coordination going on?

In either scenario, there’s an uncomfortable overlap between campaigning and managing prosecutions. If Dumanis isn’t drawing a bright line between the two arenas, then why shouldn’t the public worry that she’s also picking cases based on how they’ll play in the electorate? And that doesn’t just mean cases that will make her look better as a candidate or even cases that will shift the electoral landscape. It also means pursuing or avoiding cases based on how it would impact other candidates, their messaging, their platforms, their various bases of political strength or potential weaknesses.

If Dumanis sees her responsibilities as District Attorney and her role as a mayoral candidate to be overlapping, if using the same resources and messaging in both areas doesn’t pose an ethical problem for her, then why wouldn’t we assume that she’s also perfectly capable of using the full power of the DA’s office specifically to her political advantage?

Now, Dumanis has certainly never shied away from the spotlight, or from delving into political issues from the District Attorney’s office. The bio(s) trumpet the District Attorney’s role in pressing for the passage of Jessica’s Law to an outspoken opposition to state law permitting certain uses of medical marijuana, Dumanis has a clear record of trying to both enforce and create the law.

But it turns out that Jessica’s Law was written so that it doesn’t actually function in practice and her staunch stance against medical marijuana is now tripping over a city council that can’t afford to hold elections, which highlights the essential tension of trying to get elected on creating laws while being paid to enforce the law. One or the other almost always will end up being more powerful.

Ideally, a district attorney is elected or re-elected based on how effectively cases are prosecuted and how fairly justice is applied. There will still be campaigning, and as a result there will still be elements of electoral politics that creep into the equation. But when a supposedly non-political officeholder starts bucking for a decidedly political office, that balancing act is often threatened.

In Bonnie Dumanis’ case, all appearances indicate that her personal political aspirations have taken the upper hand. The scary question then is just how long ago did Dumanis make up her mind to run for higher office? More specifically, how long has Bonnie Dumanis been using the DA’s office — and its taxpayer-funded resources — to run for mayor?

You can see screen caps of the DA bio here and here, and of the campaign bio here, here, and here.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

JEC August 17, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Dumanis knows about favors. Right after getting in the office she dramatically increased the number of county cars that select staff used as their own. In this contest she is the ‘slick willy’. Watch out.


Allen Lewis August 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm

She looks like the morticians wife to me.


Gail P. August 18, 2011 at 9:00 am

Thank you to the wonderful OB Rag once again. This valuable article highlights the dangerous co-mingling of Bonnie’s public office with her own personal campaign for Mayor. By doing so, it points out the slippery slope that Bonnie Dumanis is willing to slid on in her relentless ambitions for higher office.

The NOT DUMANIS Facebook page invites all who seek to know about other ethical shenanigans and despicable practices of Bonnie Dumanis, to come on other and take a look. We are anointed with the righteous task of getting the word out about the upwardly ambitious D.A. whose ascendancy into the office of Mayor of San Diego would be the absolute most wicked thing to happen to our fair city since….Bonnie Dumanis was re-elected (without any challengers) to D.A. in 2010!


Ashley in OB August 19, 2011 at 1:30 am

I am perplex by this article the comparison of misappropriation of taxpayer dollars for personal gain you are citing with Nathan Fletcher and Bonnie Dumanis. This are the questions this raises for me.
1. Using your assembly staff to work on your mayoral campaign for a year prior to Nathan’s announcement to run is not under question also. Mr. Fletcher was out soliciting commitments to funds prior to June 5th and his “STAFF” was helping him do this. Today on Facebook you can type Nathan Fletcher in and see places show up and it is the address for his Assembly office you click it open and WOW look it’s Nathan Fletcher for Mayor. Hmmm. Securing contributions prior to June 5 and use of State office as a Mayoral Campaign address!!! I say BIG BIG ethical problems.
2. In this article you have not mentioned Carl’s big goof ups about using public money. How about building an “App” paid for by the taxpayers of San Diego to report San Diego repair problems and launching it on your Mayoral site first and telling people to visit it to get the App? This isn’t REALLY WORNG? Or how about securing financial commitments prior to June 5 and even having your contribution site up and live MONTHS before you are allowed to raise money?
3. No mention how Filner is raising money in his federal account and rolling that into his Mayoral campaign or the fact that he is so delusional he rode in a car in the Gay Pride Parade that said “Bob Filner Mayor of San Diego” and he was only a few cars back from the Mayor or that Bob has taken multiple grand vacations on the taxpayers dollar and called it work. Did you know he will only fly First Class and stay in the Suites of expensive hotels as your Congressman. How is that right in his district many families can’t even afford to have 1 meal a day and his flights from SD to DC cost more than most of the people he serves earn in a month.
4. My observation of Bonnie is she is using a Bio on her mayoral site and DA site. Isn’t a Bio something about you. When I am working for an attorney at a Law firm he is not a partner in and he asks me to up date his CV (Curriculum Vita) to reflect his latest accomplishments and he leaves and uses his CV at another firm is that stolen property? I worked on it I was paid by the law firm.
I think this Bio issues is a really stupid example and a overreach by this writer. I think you need to make a disclosure that a large part of your advertisement is paid for by the local Marijuana Businesses that are angry with Ms. Dumanis for doing her job by prosecuting the cases brought to her by the police and the DEA. (I live here and I have witnessed illegal sales in these places on a dozen of occasions) Even the Voice of San Diego states when there is a conflict of interest.


Terrie Leigh Relf August 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I wish I saved the clipping, but I do believe she was once whisked off to New York to “explain” why there were so many innocent men in jail who were NOT guilty of spousal and other types of domestic abuse. True, she did put many away during her campaign, and we do have her to thank for assisting in getting the word out there on this, and ensuring that the police handled these issues differently.

Many people I knew at the time said something to this effect (and yes, some of them were women): If they’re male, then they’re guilty.

Well, women have committed spousal and other forms of abuse, too. Some instigate it, then call foul. I have heard it from their own mouths.


Kathy August 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I see none of her credentials or accomplishments worthy of consideration. As mayor, she would concentrate on her personal missions, number one being medical marijuana dispensaries. She’s been in the law enforcement business too long to let it go, and we’re enough of a police state already.


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