City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Thursday denied suggestions that race played a role in his investigation of whether Supervisor Ed Jew violated city residency laws and that he withheld evidence in his legal filing with the state Attorney General’s Office.
After a four-week investigation, Herrera announced on June 18 that he had “overwhelming evidence” that Jew failed to live in the district he represents, as required under the City Charter, and asked state Attorney General Jerry Brown to grant permission to sue Jew to oust him from his seat on the Board of Supervisors.
Jew’s attorney Steven Gruel fired back on Thursday during a news conference in which he presented copies of his response submitted to the attorney general earlier this week. Gruel said Jew has lived at the 28th Avenue house, as he claimed, and that Herrera withheld key evidence — testimony from a visitor to the Sunset house — in his legal request of the attorney general.
He also suggested that the filing was biased since Herrera only used investigators who were not Chinese-American, nor were the neighbors whose testimony Herrera submitted as evidence Jew did not reside in the district.
Herrera responded to Gruel’s comments by saying, “Desperate people do desperate things.” Herrera said that since the facts and law are not on Jew’s side that Gruel is just attempting to “throw up anything on the wall and hope it sticks.”
Herrera contradicted Gruel’s assertions by pointing out that one of the investigators used was Chinese-American and at least “one or two” of the nine signed declarations were from neighbors who were Chinese-American.
Herrera has until July 13 to submit a response to Jew’s legal filing with the attorney general. The attorney general would then render a decision as to whether Herrera could sue Jew to oust him from his seat on the board.
Gruel also argued that Herrera should not be allowed to sue Jew given the pending criminal case filed against Jew by District Attorney Kamala Harris, in a separate investigation of Jew’s residency claim. Harris charged Jew with nine felony counts ranging from perjury to voter fraud based on the allegation he lied about living at the 28th Avenue home.
Herrera said it is important for him to proceed with the case because District 4 residents have a right to a “duly elected” representative. “It would be a terrible injustice if the legitimacy of our Board of Supervisors were to remain in doubt for the duration of a criminal process, which could take years,” Herrera said in a statement.
Both residency investigations were launched after questions of Jew’s residency surfaced following the May 18 FBI raid of Jew’s City Hall office, his Chinatown flower shop and other properties connected to him.