EXCLUSIVE: Recall Recount? Lawsuit Could Bring Gascon Removal to Special Election

After a second effort to bring his removal to voters fell short, Gasc贸n鈥檚 opponents will take the L.A. County Registrar to court

When last we heard from the Committee to Support the Recall of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, its effort to get a ballot measure had fallen short by about 47,000 signatures, meaning the reform-crusading head of the nation鈥檚 largest prosecutor鈥檚 office had narrowly survived the second attempt to force him into a special recall election.

Registrar Dean C. Logan seemingly put the prospect of a Los Angeles countywide referendum to bed when he declared in August that of the 715,833 signatures Recall Gasc贸n organizers had submitted by the July deadline, only 520,050 were valid; the magic number of signatures to trigger a recall: 566,857.

Gasc贸n took office in 2020 on a massive criminal justice reform platform and quickly grew unpopular as violent crime and property theft skyrocketed while he doubled down on policies like zero-dollar bail, eliminating gang and gun-related sentence enhancements, and no longer charging any violent juveniles as adults.

The drive to recall Gasc贸n, which polling indicated had a good chance to win, had the effort made the ballot, failed for the second time in as many tries.

Or did it?

As early as this week, lawyers for Recall George Gasc贸n will take the Registrar鈥檚 office to court, hoping a judge will reopen a path for the lighting-rod district attorney鈥檚 removal from office.

Recall DA Gascon Committee members say the Registrar鈥檚 office has created roadblocks to a timely inspection of all 195,783 invalidated recall signatures. From a partial review of thousands of the signatures tossed by the Registrar, they say 39% showed cause for 鈥渃lear, obvious, and legitimate鈥 signs of improper invalidation. If true, this would mean the threshold to overturn the outcome of the recall has been surpassed.

Committee members will argue that the Registrar鈥檚 office threw out thousands of signatures for reasons ranging from specious claims they were 鈥渘on-matching,鈥 despite showing 鈥渟ubstantial similarities to the signatures on file鈥 to incorrectly invalidating them as 鈥溾榥ot registered鈥 when, in fact, the person was a registered voter who could easily be identified in the voter database,鈥 according to a preview of the lawsuit obtained exclusively by LAMag.

鈥淭he Registrar has placed arbitrary and capricious limitations on the review process that substantially limit review hours, workstations, number of reviewers, access to information necessary to determine the legitimacy of a signature invalidation, and more,鈥 the statement reads.

The Registrar鈥檚 office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.聽

The L.A. County Registrar鈥檚 breakdown of signatures deemed invalid in the second recall effort of DA George Gascon. (Credit: L.A. County)

鈥淭his is what desperation looks like,鈥 says political strategist Max Szabo, a former spokesman for Gasc贸n and frequent antagonist of recall supporters, of the impending lawsuit. Szabo called the lawsuit a desperate attempt by its leaders to save face after spending millions on a failed campaign. He referred to reports of mismanagement by consultants hired by the campaign, as first reported by the conservative news blog Red State. 鈥淭his was a fringe effort鈥攏ow, it鈥檚 a clown car.鈥

Tim Lineberger, a spokesman for the recall campaign, told LAMag that in the absence of a court order, the 鈥渁rbitrary and capricious鈥 limitations imposed on examiners by the Registrar鈥檚 office will delay a full review of the invalidated signatures for more than a year.

Recall supporters will also claim the original requirement of 566,857 signatures鈥攚hich amounts to 10% of the voter roll in L.A. County鈥攖o qualify for the ballot was inflated due to a voter roll bloated with inactive voters who have either left the county or died, yet remain on the rolls.

鈥淭his issue alone could substantially affect the outcome of the recall, given that the Registrar has already identified what it deems to be 520,050 valid signatures,鈥 the campaign said in a statement. 鈥淭his does not even account for the signatures that were clearly wrongfully invalidated.鈥

Maybe it鈥檚 the opening salvo of a new battle to remove L.A.鈥檚 polarizing top prosecutor from office. Maybe it鈥檚 a desperate Hail Mary or an attempt to save face for a recall drive that fell tantalizingly short. Whether this signals a new chapter or an epilogue, one thing is clear: The final word on the movement to recall Gasc贸n has yet to be written.

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