I reported yesterday that Lake County Sheriff Ed Holte told me that DA Mark Hurlbert would be filing 15 misdemeanor charges against Deputy John Ortega for Tasing students at an April 8 school Career Fair. The Updated article reports on an email exchange I had with DA
Hurlbert about whether he in fact had made a decision to charge Deputy Ortega. John Ortega resigned two days ago, according to Sheriff Holte.
In that exchange, Hurlbert stated: “I have not made that [a charging] decision yet. No matter what Ed Holte says. And it won’t be made until next week.” Hurlbert also said, “three weeks is not a long time when there is [sic] over 30 witnesses.”
Because Sheriff Holte was so precise when I spoke with him, telling me there would be eight charges of child abuse and seven of reckless endangerment, I asked DA Hurlbert how the Sheriff could have assembled such detailed information? Hurlbert replied, “I have no idea what Ed Holte is thinking.”
Well, it turns out Hurlbert knew perfectly well how Holte got the information. Holte returned my call this morning and told me DA Investigator Rick Wallingford told Holte a week ago about the completion of the investigation, and his charging recommendation. Holte conceded that Wallenberg made it clear that his recommendations were, as always, subject to the DA’s review. But it is also clear that Hurlbert took a cheap political shot at Holte by not being candid and simply saying he was reviewing his investigator’s report. Hurlbert should also have just come out and said that Holte was likely basing his statement on conversations with Hurlbert’s own investigator.
Holte told me this shows Hurlbert has been sitting on Wallenberg’s investigation report for a week now, and was dismayed that Hurlbert claims to need yet another week to make a charging decision. Why so much time? As I noted in yesterday’s article, Hurlbert was on an out-of- state vacation last week. An out-of- state vacation in the middle of crucial, unfinished DA business and an important State Senate campaign?
Update – April 22: Hurlbert wrote saying he just received the investigator’s report yesterday, not when he was on vacation last week. This week he is also out of town, though, attending a five-day, out-of-state national drug court training. See his statement in the comments section. I presume this drug court training is the reason for his delay until next week on announcing a charging decision on Ortega. Update – April 25. The latest is on this new post.
So given this Update on Hurlbert’s view of events, we have Hurlbert making vacation plans when he knew in advance he would be out of pocket for the following week in an intensive training seminar. He indicated he did do work while on vacation, but can probably do very little during the five-day intensive training. And this leaves him unable to attend candidate events and personally campaign for the better part of a two week period
And not just during any old part of the campaign, but a critical part: April 25 is the deadline marking Hurlbert’s first campaign fundraising reporting period. All candidates are striving to gain as much fundraising as possible by this deadline, as a strong fundraising showing provides a leading indicator of a candidate’s electability.
The State GOP assembly is May 21-22 in Loveland, and Hurlbert will be competing in a Republican primary competition against conservative/libertarian businessman, Tim Leonard, of Evergreen. Upon Hurlbert’s return from vacation, he reportedly attended a campaign event last Saturday. He booked this vacation knowing he’d be in a training seminar the following week. Maybe he should have spent that Saturday reviewing Wallingford’s tasing report instead.
I have no dog in the fight between Hurlbert and Holte. But it is clear that Hurlbert does not understand or care about this tourist-dependent community’s desire to have these recent controversial cases resolved promptly. Holte opposes Hurlbert’s decision to charge his Deputy, Steven James, for his arrest of a firefighter. I wrote a glowing article supporting Hurlbert’s decision.
But Hurlbert continually demonstrates a cavalier attitude about transparency with the public- be it on cases, his budgets, or his positions on the issues as a state Senate candidate. His website still has no issues section more than three months into the campaign, and he has broken his promise to sign the CUT pledge for fiscal conservatism he promised to sign seven weeks ago.
By his own choice, Hurlbert has two full-time jobs. He needs to put in the 65-80 hour weeks many of us in the private sector have had to endure to make ends meet. Not take taxpayer-funded vacations when he has important public business to resolve. And he needs to open up both to the public he currently represents as DA, and the voters he hopes to serve if elected to the state Senate.
Update: Be sure to click on reader comments, where I’ve included a statement by Hurlbert.