In Sacramento DA’s race, Schubert backers rip Krell on pay issue

Supporters of Anne Marie Schubert pushed back Thursday against her main rival in the Sacramento County district attorney’s race, saying Maggie Krell is wrongly asserting that Schubert accepted pay raises as a supervisor in the DA’s Office while line prosecutors were being cut.

Schubert’s backers said no attorneys in the office were laid off during the tough budgets that resulted from the recent economic downturn.

“It’s frankly dishonest and unethical for Krell to say that and imply that somehow Anne Marie is getting all these raises while people are getting laid off,” said Andrew Soloman, president of the Sacramento District Attorneys Association and a board member of the Sacramento County Attorneys Association, which has contributed $90,000 to the Schubert campaign so far.

Soloman said lawyers in the DA’s Office took furloughs and gave up a 3 percent cost of living increase to avoid layoffs announced by District Attorney Jan Scully in June 2011. Scully said as many as 31 lawyers in her office stood to lose their jobs over what was then a $6.9 million budget shortfall.

An uptick in the economy and an award of $6.5 million to the DA’s Office in a settlement with the Chevron Corp. over groundwater pollution forestalled the layoffs, according to former Chief Deputy District Attorney Cindy Besemer, another Schubert backer.

“What happened was attorneys did get pink-slipped, but those were rescinded when we got additional funding and when we settled a consumer environmental case” against Chevron, she said.

Attrition in the attorneys’ ranks, plus the layoff of non-lawyers in the DA’s Office – including clerks, criminalists and investigators, among others – accounted for a reduction in force under Scully from 484 employees in 2008 to 390 last year, county documents show. Soloman said other labor units in the DA’s Office declined to give up their cost-of-living raises or accept furloughs and their members got laid off.

At a candidate forum Wednesday night at McGeorge School of Law, the Krell campaign distributed a printout it produced that showed Schubert’s yearly pay going from $119,535 to $152,167 during the five-year time span that the number of employees in the DA’s Office went down.

Krell campaign manager Andrew Acosta said Thursday that Schubert “was accepting a raise while they were cutting staff, including investigators. That’s not leadership.”

“In that office, there’s a person at the top who is getting raises,” Acosta said. “Support staff and investigators are getting laid off.”

Krell, a state deputy attorney general, launched her attack on Schubert, a deputy district attorney, in the final 45 seconds of the 90-minute forum. Krell said “crimes went unprosecuted” while Scully, who is supporting Schubert, “gave management raises while cutting line staff.”

“My opponent accepted these raises year after year,” Krell said. “That’s not integrity. That’s not leadership, and that’s not putting public safety first.”

Krell was endorsed earlier Wednesday by her boss, California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Todd Leras, a former county and federal prosecutor, is also in the race to replace Scully.

In an interview after the candidate forum, Krell went beyond her closing-statement remarks to say that Schubert accepted the pay raises “while line deputies were being cut.”

Soloman, who is a deputy district attorney in charge of the office’s gang unit, said, “It was a dishonest and unethical comment for her to make.”

Acosta said the Krell campaign is not backing away from the issue.

“I get it that the people that lunch together at the DA’s Office don’t like the facts,” he said, citing county budget tables that show 167 prosecutors now employed by the county compared to a previous figure of 183. “I’m sorry, but the facts are the facts.”

Deputy Public Defender Joe Cress, president of the county attorneys association, confirmed Schubert’s statement after the candidate forum that her pay hikes resulted from a contract that had previously been negotiated with the county.

“Any increase that would have come to Anne Marie Schubert would have come to our members and would have been part of the contract negotiated years before that,” Cress said. “We undertook 14 furlough days. We lost a COLA. That was part of our concessions made during tough budget times.”

Cress, who is not involved in either candidate’s campaign, said Schubert’s salary is “commensurate with the years of experience she has as an attorney.”

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