Thousands of people in Los Angeles County found fliers in their mailboxes last year touting a little-known candidate with an unusual advantage in his bid to become sheriff.
Alex Villanueva, a Democrat running to unseat a well-established incumbent in the nonpartisan race, was described in the mailers as “the only candidate for sheriff endorsed by the Democratic Party.” The message helped propel Villanueva to an astonishing upset that was widely attributed to the endorsement and his promise to kick federal immigration agents out of jails in this deep-blue county.
But nearly nine months into his term, Villanueva is facing a rare rebuke from the party amid concerns about his reinstatement of fired deputies, testimony by a former Sheriff’s Department official that Villanueva’s former chief of staff pressured her to alter records of misconduct, and his policy allowing inmates to be handed over to federal immigration agents through intermediaries.
Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party passed a resolution calling on Villanueva to restore trust in his department. It asks him to adhere to recommendations on hiring practices by the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, to end inmate transfers to federal immigration agents and their contractors, and to reverse all decisions by a panel that reinstated a deputy fired for violating department policies regarding domestic abuse and lying. The resolution also expressed concern that Villanueva’s son was admitted into the Sheriff’s Department academy despite a history of driving under the influence.
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