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Hypocrisy in high places: Contra Costa DA Mark Peterson must resign

February 1, 2017

by Pamela Y. Price, Esq.

Protesters in Martinez on Jan. 25 call on Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson to stop cooperating with federal authorities in deportations. – Photo: Sam Richards, East Bay Times

The Coalition to Restore Public Trust and the Contra Costa Coalition for Racial Justice call for the immediate resignation of District Attorney Mark Peterson. Elected in 2010, DA Peterson has violated the public trust.

According to charges pending before the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), over a five-year period, DA Peterson used more than $66,000 of campaign contribution money for his personal expenses. As the FPPC points out, when an official makes personal use of campaign funds, it erodes public trust in the political process.

According to the FPPC, Peterson admits that he started misusing his campaign contributions in 2011 shortly after he was elected. His misappropriation of funds continued until 2015, when he learned that his campaign account had been selected for audit.

Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson addresses the media at a press conference. – Photo: Kristopher Skinner, Bay Area News Group

The misuse of money donated to his campaign included hotels, meals, movie tickets, gasoline, clothing and more. He also withdrew cash for his personal expenses from the campaign account. Other times, DA Peterson transferred money from the campaign account to his personal account. The FPPC charges include more than 600 separate fraudulent transactions.

For five years, DA Peterson acted as his own treasurer. During that time, he filed at least four falsified FPPC reports which did not disclose his personal use of the funds. After he was caught, he claimed that the withdrawals from the campaign account were actually “loans.”

DA Peterson has been a lawyer for more than 30 years, since 1983. As a lawyer, officer of the court and elected official, he knows the meaning of receiving and holding money “in trust.” Every time that he used the campaign account for his own personal benefit, he knew that he was violating the fundamental values of the law and his ethical duties as an attorney. He knew that he was violating the trust of everyone who donated money for him to become our DA.

Attorney Pamela Y. Price

DA Peterson obviously cannot and will not hold himself accountable under the law. He has lost our community’s trust. Our community deserves to have a district attorney who acts ethically and upholds the law. Mark Peterson has shown that he cannot be trusted to do either. For these reasons, we call for his immediate resignation.

The Coalition to Restore Public Trust convened a public trial of Mark Peterson on Jan. 18 in front of his office in Martinez, presenting evidence of DA Peterson’s unethical conduct and supporting the call for his resignation. If you or someone you know has further evidence of malfeasance or abuse of his authority by Mark Peterson, please email attorney Pamela Price at votepyp@gmail.com and please sign the petition, which calls  for investigation and prosecution of Peterson by the California Attorney General.

Attorney Pamela Price can be reached at pyp@pypesq.com or 510-877-0024.

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