Editorials

Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert promised to be more transparent. This isn't a good start

Schubert ad accuses DA opponent of courtroom misdeeds

A new ad from Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert claims that her opponent, deputy DA Noah Phillips, cut a secret deal with a murder defendant.
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A new ad from Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert claims that her opponent, deputy DA Noah Phillips, cut a secret deal with a murder defendant.

The race for Sacramento County district attorney has certainly been one for the rearview mirror. The public won't easily forget the mud slung between incumbent Anne Marie Schubert and progressive challenger Noah Phillips, some of which will stick to their reputations like a mile of bad road.

The prosecutorial misconduct alleged against Phillips. The cyclone fence Schubert erected around the DA's office. The claims that she grandstanded over the capture of a suspected serial killer. The truckloads of cash from billionaire Democratic donor George Soros.

But what really shouldn't be forgotten is what appeared to slip Schubert's mind hours before the polls closed on Tuesday — the calls for transparency and accountability in criminal justice, and not just from protesters who have been camped outside her office since the Stephon Clark police shooting.

As the last ballots were cast, Schubert — who spent the campaign fighting claims that she was hiding from voters — made a personal plea to the Board of Supervisors to put an extra layer of security between herself and the public. Appealing an earlier decision, Schubert asked the board to put an additional $20,252 into the county's $4.29 billion fiscal budget to replace a sedan her office uses and pay for a sport utility vehicle. She needs it, she argued, so she can feel “more secure.”

Schubert, who declared victory on Tuesday night, says she has been receiving death threats, although she has consistently refused to offer any details and offered none at the meeting. On Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman from her office told a member of this editorial board that she does "not intend to comment further."

So much for transparency.

A clearly perplexed Supervisor Don Nottoli interrupted her at one point: “Not to put you on the spot, but couldn’t you find (money for this) in your own budget?”

He’s right, of course. The DA's office has already been renting an SUV from Enterprise at a cost of $22,226 a year.

Schubert's rationale was that other district attorneys ride around in SUVs for security reasons. But has this campaign taught her nothing? The whole demand from many voters was for her to be less sealed off and more accessible.

Her decision to make a production of asking for more money on Tuesday, the day of the primary, was completely tone deaf. If anything has been made plain during the campaign, it is that the days of universal support for law enforcement officials who stonewall the public are coming to an end.

Increasingly, transparency and accountability — we'll say it again — are what people want from their elected officials. These are trends that, while far from uniform across Sacramento County, definitely aren't going away.

District attorneys who don't understand this have a rough road ahead, SUV or no SUV.

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