A group of Long Beach residents who have been closely monitoring an investigation stemming from a June 3 incident involving Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce and her former chief of staff announced today the formation of the Committee to Recall Councilmember Jeannine Pearce.
According to the release, the committee was formed in response to what the group calls “unethical, extremely inappropriate, and apparently illegal behavior” by Pearce over the last nine months and for which, the group says, she has not provided any explanation.
Many of their complaints originated following coverage of the incident, which revealed Pearce was briefly detained by authorities investigating a possible DUI and domestic violence involving Pearce and her former chief of staff Devin Cotter.
Since then, the District Attorney’s Office has been investigating domestic violence charges, though the aggressor has not been disclosed, and looking into allegations of “inappropriate behavior and potential conflicts of interest,” according to the release.
The group alleges that Pearce has not been forthright in her conduct and relationship with Cotter, which the group feels has damaged the public’s trust.
“It is essential for an elected official to maintain the basic faith and confidence of her constituents in order to perform her duties as public trustee and as the district community’s leader, reputational representative, and role model to its youth,” the group stated in their release.
The committee also listed further grievances against Pearce, including:
Physical assault and domestic violence they believe Pearce perpetrated against Cotter, citing evidenced by an initial California Highway Patrol call back to dispatch from the scene as well as confirmation that Cotter suffered injuries to his face and arm. Cotter’s mug shot has not been provided by the city, despite requests from the Post under the California Public Records Act.
Sexual harassment they maintain Pearce perpetrated against Cotter starting at an unspecified date and ending in December 2016 when the Long Beach City Attorney arranged a “separation agreement,” leading to his departure as a city employee while remaining on the city payroll and agreeing not to sue the city. They claim Cotter intended to sue the city for sexual harassment committed by Pearce and was “bought off with an informal severance” with a salary through February 2017 while no longer working as chief of staff.
Conspiracy to commit fraud for purposes of a cover-up. They maintain that Pearce may have silenced Cotter with a “separation agreement” including severance which they say is a form of employment fraud against the city.
Unethical conduct relating to officeholder account and outside consulting. The group says that city taxpayers’ employment rolls in the California Secretary of State’s business registration filings show Cotter incorporated a new firm, Bullhorn Consulting, December 21, 2016. He then filed papers showing the CEO of that firm to be his replacement, Pearce’s current chief of staff, Christian Kropff. In addition, Cotter was directly paid $2,250 for “strategic policy consulting, February-April out of the 2nd District Officeholder account” which they say could’ve been “hush money.”
Likely DUI and improper special treatment by law enforcement. Citing reports from local news sources, the group alleges Pearce had an elevated Blood Alcohol Content on June 3 while operating a vehicle in which Cotter was a passenger. They also allege that Pearce received special treatment from Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) officers who responded to the scene. They claim that she was given bottled water and extra time to allow her BAC to drop to a 0.06 percent and that Cotter was not arrested for a $50,000 outstanding warrant because she received special treatment as a “VIP.”
While the committee says its main purpose is to convince Pearce to resign, they also state they are prepared to pursue the recall process to its conclusion.
Currently, the committee has about 12 core members with a larger group committed to the cause via Facebook and Nextdoor.com.
Ian Patton, a Bixby Knolls resident who is in support of the effort and providing consulting work through his firm Adouki & Associates, said that the committee will first focus on fundraising to support the whole recall campaign, including hiring an attorney to write the notice of intention—the first step in the recall process—along with the signature gathering campaign for the recall petition to get on the ballot.
While only 6,500 signatures from residents are needed to qualify for the petition, Patton says the committee is aiming for 8,000.
Their goal is to have all the signatures needed and submit it to the city clerk’s office by the end of the year.
In a message on Facebook posted Friday evening, Pearce responded to the committee’s announcement.
“It's unfortunate that what occurred some are using it to reflect my character. Let's focus on what's important. Let's focus on continuing to move the 2nd District forward. I am determined to ensure the 2nd District residents have a voice at the table.
“The people behind this recall are the same people who have opposed me since day one in office and have a long track record of opposing progressive values across the board.
“I'm moving the district forward. I've made personal mistakes in past, but I've never taken my eye off the best interest of my constituents. I'll continue to fight for worker safety, affordable housing, and a fair and transparent government that works for every resident, small businesses, and major corporations.”
The Post has reached to the Long Beach Police Department and Long Beach City Attorney's Office in response to these claims and will update the story when responses are received.