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Sheriff Lee Baca denies retaliation claims; Paul Tanaka speaks out

Lee Baca's spokesman says the transfers of six captains have nothing to do with politics. Paul Tanaka says it's retaliation.
October 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Half a dozen Los Angeles County sheriff's captains were transferred after they announced their support for Paul Tanaka, a candidate for sheriff. Was it retaliation?

A government claim will be filed on Friday that allows for a future class action lawsuit against the sheriff's department over the issue of retaliation.

"It is a clear case of retaliation," said Tanaka.

Nine active captains stood behind Tanaka as he announced his candidacy for Los Angeles County sheriff.

Tanaka says in response, the current sheriff, Lee Baca, personally transferred six of them to less desirable assignments.

"They exercised their First Amendment right to support whoever they wish to in a political election and they are now being punitively disciplined for it," said Tanaka.

Capt. Louis Duran filed a complaint against the department, citing "discrimination, harassment and retaliation" for his move.

"I got moved without cause, causing a monetary loss...all for the support of Paul Tanaka," said Duran.

Attorney Brad Gage says several of his clients are now planning to sue.

"All of my clients are associated with Mr. Tanaka, who is an Asian man. They've been discriminated against and they've been retaliated against following that," said Gage.

Baca's spokesman says the transfers have nothing to do with politics.

"The facts are people move all the time. Regrettably sometimes, and I'm saying this in general, sometimes people do not live up to the expectations the sheriff and the command staff have of that individual and so they're moved for that reason as well, as well as other reasons," said sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore.

The tone will likely get even nastier as we approach Election Day, which is seven months away.


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