Local Elections

"We've got some healing to do." New Phillips ad sounds social justice themes

Sacramento County prosecutor Noah Phillips makes his closing statement as Orville Fleming sits in court on Monday, May 22, 2015 in Sacramento Superior Court.
Sacramento County prosecutor Noah Phillips makes his closing statement as Orville Fleming sits in court on Monday, May 22, 2015 in Sacramento Superior Court. Sacramento Bee

Noah Phillips has launched a new television spot sounding the themes of equal justice, police accountability and repairing community trust that have driven his campaign to unseat Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert on June 5.

The 30-second advertisement airing on Sacramento broadcast and cable stations as the contentious campaign for District Attorney enters its final month opens with a brief introduction by deputy county prosecutor Phillips outside Sacramento County Courthouse before diving into his platform. A crew filmed the courthouse segments in late April.

“We need to end racial profiling and police misconduct and hold the powerful accountable because no one is above the law,” Phillips says before pivoting to images that echoed the incidents that gave the liberal Phillips’ campaign its voice and momentum – the fatal shootings of Joseph Mann and Stephon Clark by Sacramento police and the ongoing protests .

Clark and Mann aren’t mentioned by name or shown in the brief ad, but Phillips’ voice intones over the image of mourners at Clark's April funeral service: “Our community has felt real pain,” Phillips says in the TV spot. “We’ve got some work and some healing to do to rebuild trust so we can keep Sacramento safe for everyone.”

Newly compiled figures from The Bee show Schubert holding a nearly 2-to-1 advantage in contributions this time around, with Schubert having raised nearly $564,000 to Phillips’ roughly $295,000.

The straight-forward, but polished half-minute spot hints at the money and the movement helping to propel Phillips’ run for DA in a race shaping up to be one of the most competitive for the office in years. Schubert was elected District Attorney in 2014 with 58 percent of the vote defeating then-state Attorney General’s prosecutor Maggy Krell and attorney Todd Leras for the seat.

But the name at the bottom of the ad’s final frame confirms it: George Soros, the Los Angeles billionaire whose progressive California Justice & Public Safety PAC and similarly named political action committees, is throwing cash into efforts across the country aimed at criminal justice system reform, reducing incarcerations and helping liberal prosecutors win District Attorney’s seats in at least 10 states including California.

Soros’ PAC is among several progressive groups locking arms with the liberal Phillips, a Democrat, who has staked out positions to the left of Schubert. The Justice & Public Safety PAC contributed a $32,475 donation to Phillips in April.

Schubert enjoys broad support for reelection from Sacramento-area and statewide law enforcement unions and business, has picked up labor support and the endorsement of Democratic mayor Darrell Steinberg and other council members as well as regional leaders.

Schubert also received a recent surge of momentum with the April arrest of East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer suspect Joseph James DeAngelo on the strength of DNA evidence and technology she championed first as a prosecuting attorney then as DA.

A new ad, with its tagline “She protects us” and produced by Schubert’s camp touts her DNA expertise.

DeAngelo faces two counts of murder in the February 1978 shooting deaths of Rancho Cordova couple Katie and Brian Maggiore, with special circumstances for the slaying’s multiple victims.

He also faces two charges of murder with special circumstances of burglary and rape in the 1980 killings of Charlene and Lymon Smith in Ventura. DeAngelo is being held in Sacramento County custody and returns to court May 14.

Meantime, Phillips’ ad airs as he fights accusations of prosecutorial misconduct lobbed by local defense attorney Michael Wise alleging a secret deal with a defendant in a 2016 murder case to offer testimony against co-defendants in exchange for a lighter manslaughter sentence. Phillips denies the allegations and is expected to face a judge on the defense claims Friday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Phillips’ liberal stance won an endorsement and sizable financial backing from the progressive Real Justice PAC whose Shaun King is a high-profile judicial reform activist and whose team held key roles in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

The Brooklyn-based King recently headlined a Phillips rally in Oak Park and called on voters to oust incumbent Schubert because of her financial ties to law enforcement groups and what King said was her record of not prosecuting cases against police officers.

Real Justice has poured nearly $45,000 into Phillips’ coffers, The Bee’s most recent calculations show, most of it in a flurry of contributions in early April.

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