Bakersfield

Kern County DA Zimmer testifies in Leticia Perez’s conflict of interest case

The conflict of interest case against Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez took an interesting turn on Friday as Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer took the stand during an evidentiary hearing.

Perez’s legal team has begun constructing a defense alleging that the filing of two counts of violating California’s conflict of interest and ethics disclosure laws by Zimmer’s predecessor, Lisa Green, was political retaliation.

Perez was charged last July with two misdemeanors related to conflicts of interest.

In 2017, Perez was the lone vote against a motion to ban commercial marijuana sales.

The District Attorney alleges that she cast this vote while her husband, Fernando Jara, consulted and lobbied the Board of Supervisors on behalf of marijuana interests.

Perez was also charge with a misdemeanor for failing to disclose economic interests for 2016.

The underlying argument from Perez’s attorney H.A. Sala is that Green filed charges against the Supervisor because Perez supported Zimmer for District Attorney in 2018, while Green supported her Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman.

Zimmer bested Spielman in that election by 9,322 votes, or roughly nine points.

Friday’s hearing was meant to determine if Perez could have District Attorney’s office employees testify to Green’s actions and sentiment toward Perez related to the heated District Attorney race.

During her testimony, the Bakersfield Californian reported that Zimmer never “represented to the public” that the Supervisor supported her candidacy.

However, the two were seen at some events together – including the 2018 Women’s March.

Eytan Wallace of Bakersfield’s KGET reported that Zimmer testified that former District Attorney Green confronted staff who attended Zimmer’s campaign announcement in anger over their attendance.

Meanwhile, private eye Dean Tarricone testified on Friday that an employee informed him of an incident where Green confronted employees who had walked precincts for Zimmer, vaguely warning them that homes are often equipped with doorbell cameras.

Green then restated her support for Spielman to succeed her, Tarricone said.

Judge Thomas Clark heard arguments on Perez’s motion for discovery on Friday.

While he initially indicated rejecting the motion, and siding with the District Attorney’s office, he punted to Monday to issue a ruling.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.