Any potential criminal investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Mayor Bob Filner, announced by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department on July 19, would be missing a key player because of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ political activities.

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In the last paragraph of a July 19 U-T San Diego article:

“The District Attorney’s Office also put out a news release about the same time as the Sheriff’s Department saying it would not be part of a sexual harassment investigation of Filner. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, coming in last in a four-candidate primary.”

Not stated in the article is the fact that Dumanis was forced to recuse herself from what could be one of the most high-profile criminal investigations in many years, transferring prosecutorial authority to the state attorney general’s office, because of her high-profile political activity related to last year’s mayoral race.

Dumanis’ political campaign for mayor against Filner while simultaneously serving as the District Attorney, and later her endorsement of mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio, destroyed the necessary impartiality required of a prosecutor to investigate.

If ever there were proof of how a “political” district attorney can compromise an investigation – here it is.

The more than 300 deputy district attorneys in her office, among the best and brightest criminal trial lawyers in the county, cannot do their job because their boss spent 17 months running for mayor, politicking and making deals with political insiders. She did not take an unpaid leave of absence, did not return any of her $240,000-a-year government salary while running, and now, a year later, her “activities” still negatively impact the office that should be involved, shoulder-to-shoulder, with the sheriff during this very important investigation.

But because Dumanis put her personal political ambitions before everything else – just 70 days after she was sworn into office for her third term as district attorney – her office of experienced criminal prosecutors is precluded from doing its job.

Dumanis previously recognized the impropriety of politicizing her office when, in 2007, she rolled out her Public Integrity Unit. At that time, she promised she would not endorse or accept endorsements from political office holders so as not to compromise the work of that unit. Since then, in violation of her own promise, she has endorsed numerous candidates for local office, from the county treasurer to mayors and even judges. And she has accepted political endorsements from a slew of politicians in the upcoming district attorney’s race.

Now we see the consequences: her office is precluded from investigating a very important case because of her political activities.

That’s why I am committed to eliminating politics from the district attorney’s office and why, as district attorney, I will never endorse politicians. It’s time to restore public safety without politics.

(Update: Read District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ response.)

Brewer’s commentary has been edited for clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us here. Want to respond? Submit a commentary.

Robert Brewer

Robert Brewer is an attorney in private practice and a candidate for San Diego County District Attorney.

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