MADERA COUNTY — At a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors this morning, the five-member board voted unanimously to censure District Attorney David Linn for creating a hostile workplace environment and using sexually and racially offensive language.
The Board had demanded his resignation in the wake of a complaint that was filed, and an independent investigation found that Linn used vulgar and offensive language, and engaged in “conduct unbecoming of an elected District Attorney and has tarnished the reputation of the Madera County District Attorney’s Office.”
Linn, 69, was elected in November 2014, and has been under investigation since July 2017, after a complaint was filed by an employee in his office.
At this morning’s Board meeting, which grew heated at times, Chairman Max Rodriguez said he had been “shocked to learn of the allegations of the serious workplace misconduct and racist and sexist statements by the District Attorney,” but that an investigation had shown them to be true. Linn vehemently denies the allegations.
According to the work product document prepared by the law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, and released by the Board today, investigators interviewed nearly a dozen witnesses between July 24 and Aug. 29, and compiled a list of the comments attributed to Mr. Linn by those witnesses.
Attorney Kimberly Horiuchi, who investigated the case, addressed the Board this morning, summarizing the findings and reading aloud many of the statements attributed to Mr. Linn.
Before doing so, however, she cautioned that some of the language was extremely offensive and profane, and apologized for the use of such, but noted that it was important to present the “accurate language.”
Horiuchi read several comments attributed to Linn as remembered by interviewees in regards to sexually offensive behavior, including one statement that Linn wished he could “bounce a quarter off one female District Attorney’s ass.”
**We caution everyone at this point that what follows will be highly offensive to many. Reader discretion is advised.**
He is also accused of saying that he wanted another female Deputy District Attorney (DDA) to sit on his face, and of smacking his lips and making a “delighted sound” every time another female DDA walked by.
In one case, he is accused of suggesting that a female crime victim dress more provocatively before meeting with him, and making other inappropriate comments about the case, which was sexual in nature.
As to the allegation that Mr. Linn engaged in racist comments, the document reports that the D.A. used the terms “wetback” and “spic” in referring to Mexican Americans. It also lists comments related by the complainant that include the following:
“Michelle and Barrack will have to go to a Baltimore [Slave Auction] and figure out which one of them is the house n*****r and which one is the field n*****r.”
“Black people arrested for DUI above Oakhurst should argue impossibility as a defense because everyone knows their lips explode at that altitude.”
The witness also said that Linn made comments about Native American crime victims. After one Native American family complained about Linn providing details regarding their family member’s cause of death to the media, Linn is reported as saying, “Those people only care if someone takes away their beer. F**k them. They are just a bunch of Indians. They don’t vote.”
The complainant also alleged that Mr. Linn would kick trash cans, yell at employees, use profanity at employees, referring to one DDA as “a piece of s***, and yelling at him “f*** you, fat boy.”
(There were other comments attributed to Mr. Linn that are too graphic to list here. The entire document can be viewed by clicking this link and then clicking on Liebert Cassidy Whitmore Report).
After the investigating attorney made her statement, District Attorney Linn stepped to the podium to flatly deny all the allegations, and accused the Board of holding a political meeting, not a hearing.
“There was one complaint filed against me by one disgruntled employee, who had filed similar actions in two other counties. Nobody seems to care about that,” said Linn. “This meeting is not about what about what I did; this meeting is about political retribution.”
Linn said he took office to be open, transparent, and “clean up Madera County,” accusing the Board of being corrupt.
“You have asked for my resignation; that will not happen,” said Linn emphatically. “I don’t work for you. I work for the people of Madera County. I am here to prosecute criminal activity, whether I find that criminal activity in the ghettos of Madera, or the hills of Eastern Madera County, or sitting in the chambers of Madera County Board of Supervisors.”
Linn said he is currently investigating two of the Board members, and will continue to prosecute that activity “vigorously” over the remainder of his term.
“You gentlemen are not off the hook yet,” he told the Board. “We’re here today not because of anything I’ve done, other than doing my job. We’re here today because you gentlemen are afraid because you know what you have been doing; the way you have been running this county.”
Linn accused the supervisors of lining their pockets to make their retirements comfortable, and directly addressed Supervisor David Rogers, saying he had a clear case against Rogers for federal violations.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” said Linn. “We have supervisors lining their pockets with campaign donations, and getting extremely good deals from contractors. Thank you for putting on your show this morning.”
Supervisor Rogers pointed out that the Board did not go looking to accuse the D.A. of anything, but had these allegations brought to them. He responded to Linn’s accusations by saying that he is not opposed to the D.A. doing his job, but that what the Board has to base their decision on is “truth and fact.”
“We are here because an employee filed a complaint, and those accusations were substantiated by multiple people,” said Rogers. “We have a legal and moral obligation to our employees to protect them from the kind of behavior exhibited by the D.A., and to ensure that they have a work environment that is free of sexual harassment and racist comments, and free of intimidation and threat. People shouldn’t have to live and work under those circumstances. That’s what this about. His actions, and nothing else.”
Supervisor Brett Frazier noted that a censure is a formal denunciation by the Board of the D.A.’s actions, and that the people can draw their own conclusions.
“We don’t hire and fire the D.A., the people do,” said Frazier, “That’s the way it should be, and the people should have all the information available to them to make that decision.”
Frazier also addressed Linn directly about the D.A.’s investigation into whether or not he received a discounted price on the house he recently purchased in one of the new developments along Highway 41.
“I will look you dead in the eye and say that you came to me and told me there was nothing to this investigation, and told me to come to your office next week and we will close it out,” Frazier told Linn. “You knew you were under investigation, and you were trying to hold anything you could over everybody’s head.”
Frazier said that investigators came to his home and went over the design and amenities of his house line by line, and it was determined that he paid fair market value for the property.
“This hearing is all about the people,” said Frazier. “Some politicians will get on the stump and tell you it’s about the people, but then tell you to look the other way and pay no mind to the man behind the curtain.”
As for the investigation into wrongdoing by Supervisor Rogers that Linn says in underway, Rogers said that he has no knowledge of it, has never been accused or questioned, and that his life is “an open book” that Linn was welcome to examine. He also corroborated Supervisor Frazier’s statement that the investigation into his home had been ended, noting that he was standing five feet away when Linn’s investigator said there was nothing to the allegations against Frazier, and they were finalizing the investigation that morning.
“So this is interesting timing, now we are being told we’re being prosecuted,” said Rogers. “This is not about us. This is about taking eyes off what this person has done, and trying to get those eyes focused on other people. Don’t let the tail wag the dog.”
All the supervisors agreed that bringing this issue before the people was not easy, was not fun, but it’s the right thing to do.
Several members of the public spoke to the Board, stating that they had not known Mr. Linn to behave in the manner alleged, and at least one took the opportunity to chastise certain Board members about their own conduct.
However, the issue before the Supervisors on this day was the censure of David Linn, and the Board voted 5-0 to approve the resolution in its edited form. The revised censure waived the attorney/client privilege so that the redacted report of the investigation could be released to the public, and precludes D.A. Linn from taking any retaliatory action against any of those who cooperated with the investigation.
“It’s probably the hardest decision I’ve had to make since I’ve been on this board,” said District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler as he cast his vote to censure.
In a press conference held by Linn following the hearing, he again vehemently denied all the allegations, and said he doesn’t have a prejudiced bone in his body.
“A good portion of my family is African-American, and in my wife’s family, more than 50 percent are Mexican,” he said, calling the allegations “sickening.”
When asked where the statements attributed to him may have come from, Linn said they could have been taken from “bits and pieces” of things he has said.
“I may be a bit crusty, and that is likely from my Navy days, but it just doesn’t sound like me,” he said.
Linn says the outpouring of support since these allegations came out has been overwhelming, and has pushed him toward announcing that he will run for reelection. He also plans to continue his fight against the Board of Supervisors.
“You can’t pull off this level of fraud without working together to hide what’s going on,” says Linn. “I will spend the next year not only doing my job, but pursuing the allegations against the supervisors. Can I get them into court and put them into jail where they belong? These supervisors will meet their judgment, whether in this world or the next.”
The following is the wording of the resolution passed this morning by the Board:
WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors of Madera County is committed to ensuring that all County employees work in an environment free of discrimination, harassment, or abusive conduct, and that all current and prospective employees are evaluated in an environment free of discrimination or harassment; and
WHEREAS, the Board is profoundly disappointed by, and disapproving of, the conduct of District Attorney David A. Linn; and
WHEREAS, accounts of Mr. Linn’s workplace misconduct have been verified by multiple witnesses during the course of a thorough, independent professional investigation, a summary of which is attached hereto as Exhibit A, and
WHEREAS, Mr. Linn’s conduct includes regularly making offensive, degrading, and/or sexually suggestive comments to or about women, including crime victims, and
WHEREAS, multiple documented sources give accounts of frequent outbursts of anger and inappropriate behavior with his staff members, including threatening remarks and offensive comments about their physical appearance, race or gender; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Linn regularly uses vulgar and offensive slang terms in reference to racial minorities and women; and
WHEREAS, no person or public official is above the law, and Mr. Linn’s conduct does not comport with the Board’s adopted policy on workplace discrimination, harassment, and abusive conduct, nor state and federal laws prohibiting employee discrimination and harassment.
WHEREAS, Mr. Linn’s conduct is unbecoming of an elected District Attorney and has tarnished the reputation of the Madera County District Attorney’s Office.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED that the Board of Supervisors of Madera County, a political subdivision of the State of California, does hereby censure District Attorney David A. Linn for his repeated actions contrary to the County’s policies, and state and federal laws, prohibiting workplace harassment, discrimination and abuse.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Board of Supervisors of Madera County demands that Mr. Linn immediately cease and desist all abusive, harassing or discriminatory actions toward his staff or any County employees or officials as a result of the investigation or this censure.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, as Mr. Linn has abused the staff of the District Attorney’s Office, of whom he was entrusted to lead, and tarnished the reputation of that Office, the Board of Supervisors calls on him to acknowledge his past behavior and resign immediately.
To view the redacted report from the investigating attorney, click here and then, click on “Liebert Cassidy Whitmore Report.”
LIEBERT CASSIDY WHITMORE
5250 North Palm Ave. Suite 30
Fresno, California 93704
November 20, 2017
Deputy County Administrative Officer Human Resources/Operations Director
200 W. Fourth Street
Madera, CA 93.637
Re: Summary of Investigative Findings into Allegations of Discrimination, Harassment, and Discourteous Conduct at the County District Attorney’s Office
Dear Ms. Calip:
As you know, the County of Madera (“County’) recently undertook an investigation into allegations raised by Senior Deputy District Attorney John Baker regarding inappropriate workplace conduct at the County District Attorney’s Office, including specific allegations against District Attorney (DA’) David Linn. I was retained by the County as a neutral, independent investigator to conduct an investigation into Baker’s allegations. I have completed my investigation. Pursuant to your request, below are a summary of my investigative findings regarding allegations against DA Linn:
1. DA Linn made repeated sexist or sexually explicit comments to and about employees and female crime victims: SUSTAINED;
2. DA Linn made repeated racist or racially insensitive comments in the Workplace: SUSTAINED
3. DA Linn engaged in abusive or threatening conduct in the Workplace: SUSTAINED.
The County’s Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy does not provide for production of the investigation report to employees and it should not be produced. The investigation report in this matter should be considered a confidential attorney-client communication and attorney work product.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns,
LIEBERT CASSIDY WHITMORE
Kimberly A. Horiuchi