House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) abruptly pulled his endorsement of Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, a fellow Democrat running for reelection.
“This is a rare time in our nation’s history. We have a responsibility to make profound changes to end systemic racism & reform criminal justice,” Schiff wrote on Twitter on June 20.
Schiff in 2019 endorsed Lacey, who has been in office for two terms.
Both the federal lawmaker and Laura Friedman, a state assemblywoman, “no longer feel our endorsement of Jackie Lacey a year ago has the same meaning,” Schiff wrote. “We have decided to withdraw it.”
Friedman, a Democrat, issued a similar statement.
Another Democrat, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, said last week that it “may be” time for a new district attorney.
Lacey defended herself after the endorsements were withdrawn.
“As the first African American woman to hold the LA County D.A.’s office, I am proud of my record of taking on systemic racism and reforming criminal justice—from bail reform, to reducing juvenile cases by nearly 50%, to increasing our office’s focus on mental health treatment instead of incarceration,” she said in a statement sent to news outlets.
“I am singularly focused on doing the work of the people of L.A. County during this time of crisis.”
Lacey has faced criticism over her refusal to charge police officers with misconduct for on-duty shootings. Dozens of protesters gathered outside her house over the weekend to call for charges against the officers who shot Alex Flores in 2019 and Daniel Hernandez this year.
“Everybody is utterly shocked when they think about the number of people who have been killed by police or while in custody since Lacey took office,” Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter’s Los Angeles chapter, told The Associated Press at the protest.
Former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón is challenging Lacey. The Cuban American is a former police commander.
Gascón’s platform includes delaying the prosecution of nonviolent cases amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an end to cash bail, and opposition to the death penalty.
Gascón states on his website that he supports law enforcement but wants to change policies to bring about “fair and just policing.” Examples include pushing for a standard that allows lethal force only as a last resort and creating an independent agency that would probe all officer-involved shootings.
Lacey’s campaign says she supports the banning of private prisons, is working to replace the cash bail system, and wants to enhance neighborhood safety.
Hours after Schiff pulled his endorsement of Lacey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed Gascón, calling him “a national leader in criminal justice reform and a powerful advocate for rethinking our approach to public safety and ending mass incarceration.”