A political action committee with a majority of its funding from billionaire investor George Soros has contributed more than $1 million to Diana Becton's campaign for Contra Costa County District Attorney.
Last month, county election filings showed an independent expenditure of just over $400,000 from the California Justice & Public Safety PAC. On May 28, the PAC spent an additional $540,000-plus.
Soros contributed $652,000 of the $1,002,000.
Longtime prosecutor and former senior deputy district attorney Mary Knox is challenging Diana Becton, who has held the office since being appointed in 2017.
"An out-of-state billionaire along with special interest groups have now dropped an unprecedented $1M to defeat my campaign and influence voters for District Attorney in this local election,” Knox said of the May 28 independent expenditure. “Contra Costa voters will determine the outcome of this election and the future of public safety in Contra Costa County.
“This billionaire‘s money will not drown out the voices of the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of local donors who have worked tirelessly side-by-side with me over the past 11 months to spread our campaign's message.”
Champagne Brown, Becton’s campaign manager, responded to Knox’s statement by saying, "The money is being sent to an independent committee. As you can see from her list of endorsements, District Attorney Becton has garnered incredible support from across Contra Costa County, from elected officials to community leaders to every day Contra Costans.
“We would also point out that Mary Knox has received unprecedented hundreds of thousands of dollars from police unions, including the Deputy Sheriffs Association and police unions outside of Contra Costa County, who are trying to influence this race after the historic sentencing of former Deputy Sheriff Andrew Hall.”
Hall is a former Danville police officer who shot and killed unarmed motorist Laudemer Arboleda to end a slow-speed pursuit in 2018 and was sentenced in March to six years in state prison. Hall is still under investigation for another on-duty fatal shooting in 2021.
”Mary Knox is on the record as saying she would not have charged the Andrew Hall case, even after a jury of his peers convicted him and a judge sentenced him,” Brown said. “Many candidates for elected office have made it a policy to decline money from police unions, and that should be especially true for candidates for an office that works so closely with law enforcement.“
Becton is a progressive prosecutor who was elected in 2018 on a platform of criminal justice system reform. A member of the “Prosecutor’s Alliance,” Becton has aligned herself with other progressive California DAs Chesa Boudin of San Francisco, George Gascon of Los Angeles, and Tori Verber Salazar of San Joaquin. All four members of the alliance were backed by the Soros-funded PAC in 2018.
Citing rising crime rates in the county and, according to Knox, Becton’s soft-on-crime policies, Knox promises to “stand up for victims and work hand-in-hand with local police departments to reduce crime.”
Knox has been a prosecutor for 37 years. She is the “former” senior deputy DA because she was demoted by Becton. Knox filed a political retaliation complaint against Becton alleging the demotion came after Knox revealed she was supporting Becton's opponent in the 2018 election.
Knox is also one of four women in the DA’s office who sued Becton in 2020 alleging she denied more experienced women promotions while promoting inexperienced men.
Knox has raised more than $520,000 in contributions. Contra Costans for Progress and Justice, a coalition of business, labor and people that care about public safety in support of Mary Knox for District Attorney 2022 gave more than $250,000 through May 21, and included $190,000 from Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff's Association Independent Expenditure PAC.
"I have served our community for 37 years as a prosecutor," Knox said. "The bottom line is this. People in our community want to feel safe in their neighborhoods. Every day I talk to voters who are frustrated with D.A. Becton and want to see their District Attorney focused on public safety and crime reduction. As Contra Costa’s District Attorney, I will restore public safety, enforce our laws and work to prevent crime.”
“Prosecutors have a duty to seek justice for victims, no matter who the perpetrator is, and to hold anyone who harms our communities accountable. District Attorney Becton has demonstrated her commitment to upholding that duty, despite the opposition,” Brown said, referring to Becton charging Hall.
“She has cleaned up a dysfunctional District Attorney's Office, and brought safety, justice and progress to the county. She leads an office with more than 200 prosecutors and staff, and manages a budget of $49 million to make possible a justice system that works for everyone, not just a few.”