|Tanaka with finger outstretched|
Given the nature of much of what was going on regarding Tanaka's apparently deep personal involvement in the various nasty Sheriff Department prison abuse scandals then (and still) under investigation by the FBI, Nancy's unfortunate vow of support didn't impress us as being an especially brilliant political move at the time. Here is what we wrote in the post discussing this very matter (link):
In what the staff here at The Sierra Madre Tattler has now begun to refer to as the "political equivalent of twerking," Mayor Nancy Walsh has made what has got to be regarded as a very controversial candidate endorsement. Paul Tanaka, who is under investigation by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for many of the very same things that drove Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca to announce his resignation as Sheriff yesterday, is not the kind of person politicians possessing a modicum of sense and wisdom would want to find themselves associated with right now. Then again, nobody has ever accused Nancy Walsh of having too much of that sort of thing.
Our former Mayor of Sierra Madre was celebrated in the following Tanaka for LA County Sheriff press release for her support, which as far as I can tell was only published on their website and here on The Tattler. Here is part of what was said (link):
Sierra Madre Mayor Nancy Walsh Endorses Paul Tanaka - Today, Sierra Madre Mayor Nancy Walsh officially announced her support of former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka as he campaigns for Sheriff of Los Angeles County. Tanaka has also received the support of Rosemead Mayor Polly Low and Temple City Mayor Cynthia Sternquist.
“Paul Tanaka’s exceptional leadership is exactly what the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department needs,” said Mayor Walsh. “As Mayor of the City of Gardena, Paul successfully saved the city from bankruptcy, reduced crime to record lows and increased business throughout the city. The department would be lucky to have him as their next Sheriff.”
Now why Nancy Walsh, who as Mayor here had repeatedly vowed to do whatever it takes to keep the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department out of Sierra Madre, would want to insert herself into that particular political race does beg an explanation. And I am not certain what that explanation might be.
Additionally, Paul Tanaka had also received the support of Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce President Ed Chen. So profound was Ed's devotion that he took a leave of absence from his position as Director of Governmental Affairs at Athens Services (our beloved trash company with the helpful multi-colored cans) to help run Tanaka's campaign for Sheriff.
It is also important to note here that Ed Chen is Chamber of Commerce President not only in Sierra Madre, but also in Rosemead and Temple City as well. A COC triple crown, I guess. All of whom have (or had) Mayors that endorsed the Tanaka campaign. And all at roughly the same time.
Maybe it was just a coincidence.
So you have to wonder how all of those folks were feeling yesterday when stories such as the following started showed up in all of the daily papers. This first one is from the Los Angeles Daily News (link):
Paul Tanaka urged to halt Los Angeles County sheriff bid in wake of federal jailhouse probe - Sheriff’s candidate Paul Tanaka’s testimony in federal court this week set off a firestorm of criticism, as rivals called on him to bow out and some supporters remained steadfast.
Under questioning from a prosecutor, Tanaka acknowledged that he is a subject in an ongoing federal investigation.
Tanaka, a former second-in-command of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, was called to testify in defense of Deputy James Sexton — the first of seven sheriff’s officers to stand trial on charges stemming from an alleged effort to hinder an FBI probe of abuse of inmates in the county jail.
Tanaka said that he knew about the department’s efforts to hide an FBI informant and inmate inside L.A. County’s jails, but he believed the Sheriff’s Department had a duty to protect the inmate while the department investigated the inmate’s claims that a deputy and federal agent helped him smuggle a cellphone and drugs inside the jail.
“Orders that I passed on or carried out, I believed to be lawful and still do,” Tanaka said Tuesday.
Then there was this troubling report in yesterday's LA Register (link):
Opponent calls for Paul Tanaka to quit sheriff race in light of federal criminal probe - Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka has been urged to step down from the race to become the county’s top law enforcement official in the wake of revelations that he is the subject of a criminal investigation.
Rival sheriff candidate Bob Olmsted, a retired commander, called on Tanaka to end his candidacy a day after Tanaka acknowledged in a courtroom during the trial of a deputy that he is the subject of a federal obstruction of justice investigation.
“Voters need and deserve an honest sheriff who will uphold and have the greatest respect for the law,” Olmsted said Tuesday in a statement issued through his campaign. “It’s clear that Paul Tanaka thinks he’s above the law and he doesn’t have the moral compass needed to steer the LASD away from its corrupt past and toward a future of integrity and transparency.”
Tanaka took the witness stand Friday and Monday in the federal trial of Deputy James Sexton, who is accused of helping block an FBI probe into deputy-on-inmate violence inside the county’s jail system. During questioning in a cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox, Tanaka said he is aware he is the subject of the federal obstruction of justice investigation.
An ongoing federal civil rights and corruption probe has resulted in the indictments of 20 current and former deputies. Sexton is the first to face trial.
And, not wanting to be outdone by their rival city papers, The Los Angeles Times added the following to the discussion (link):
Obstruction probe includes upper echelons of L.A. sheriff's department - Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and a sheriff's captain are being investigated for their alleged roles in hiding a jail inmate from federal authorities, a prosecutor revealed in court Monday.
Seven low-ranking Los Angeles County sheriff's officials are being tried this month on federal obstruction-of-justice charges. The statements from the prosecutor at one of the trials are a sign that high-ranking supervisors remain under scrutiny.
Tanaka and Capt. William Carey were witnesses Monday in the trial of Deputy James Sexton. Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox, Tanaka said he is aware that he is a subject of an ongoing investigation.
Fox asked Tanaka if he knows that criminal cases sometimes start with lower-level officials before moving toward the top. Sexton’s attorney objected to the question, and the judge ordered it stricken from the record.
Tanaka, who is retired, is running for sheriff against six other candidates, with the primary election on June 3.
Now certainly Sierra Madre has only played a bit part in this rather immense L.A. County scandal. However, and as small as our role may be, it can't be something that too many living here have taken much pride in.
In light of these new and disturbing reports, perhaps former Mayor Walsh and Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce President Ed Chen might wish to reconsider their support for Tanaka. And then maybe they'd also want to tell us why they've changed their minds.
It is never too late to do the right thing.