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Alameda County DA Pamela Price announces state probe into recall group's source of funding

Watch: Alameda County DA Pamela Price announces state probe into recall group's finances
Watch: Alameda County DA Pamela Price announces state probe into recall group's finances 21:00

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is fighting back against what she calls the "undemocratic" recall campaign against her, announcing word on Tuesday of a state investigation into the political action committee funding the recall.

Meanwhile, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday afternoon to accept the submission of more than 70,000 signatures to trigger a recall vote.

Watch: Alameda County DA Pamela Price announces state probe into recall group's finances 21:00

In a press conference attended by her supporters Tuesday morning, Price announced that the California Fair Political Practices Commission was looking into the complaint filed by her supporters against two groups backing the recall.

Price said the group Reviving the Bay Area appears to be the financial and organizational arm of Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE), the group leading the recall effort against Price. The complaint by recall-opposing group Protect the Win for Public Safety alleges Reviving the Bay Area has not filed a 3rd quarter report listing its contributors as required by law, in effect hiding its funding sources from the public at least through September of 2023.

Aside from questions over the source of the funding, Price also accused the SAFE recall group of a litany of financial and operational illegalities.

"Between September 2023 and November 2023 they donated approximately $578,000 to SAFE without complying with the laws that govern all political committees in California. said Price. "We applaud the FPPC's action to investigate this entity as well as the finances that have also come under question of the SAFE committee, where we've learned that they were paying some of the main spokespersons and funding an illegal force that they called a security force. So there have been a lot of financial irregularities, coupled with the irregular practices of the signature-gathering company PCI Communications that literally paid for hundreds of people to come into our community and gather signatures using bait-and-switch tactics and misleading people and engaging in fraudulent signature-gathering."

SAFE and recall supporters demanded that supervisors set a special election date before the November general election during their press conference later Tuesday, an emotionally charged event frequently interrupted by Price supporters chanting and using a bullhorn. A SAFE spokesperson disputed Price's allegations about illegal signature-gathering activities or improper financial reports. 

Watch: Supporters of Pamela Price recall hold press conference to demand special election 26:39

Recall supporters maintain Price's criminal justice reforms have led to higher crime rates and afford more rights to suspects than to their victims. Recall opponents reject those assertions and say Price's critics don't understand the role the county's top prosecutor plays in the criminal justice system.

Despite Price's challenges to the signatures gathered for her recall, the Board of Supervisors voted to essentially confirm the finding of county Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis that proponents gathered enough valid signatures -- 74,757 -- to place the recall of Price on a ballot.

The vote followed a nearly four-hour hearing featuring more than three hours of ardent public comment. The board also voted to schedule a special meeting on May 14 to set a date for such an election and to decide if they want to call a special election or consolidate the recall with the November general election.

"Our office's preference, for a number of reasons, would be for you to consolidate," Dupuis said.

Firstly, the cost to run a special election would be between $15 million and $20 million, whereas folding the recall into the November election would cost about $4 million, he said, adding that a special election would "compete for resources" with the general election, potentially leaving the county short on equipment and voting centers in November.

"And I do want to make the board aware that there have been times when we have elections that get litigated, that judges have told us that we have to hold on to the equipment and not decommission it," Dupuis said. "And that would, if we were in a special election and we were told to hold on to any of the critical equipment for running an election, it would put at risk our availability of resources and equipment for the consolidated election."

Dupuis' preference runs counter to the wishes of recall supporters, however, who have long said they'd prefer a special election be held as soon as possible. Last week, Price's supporters held a rally and urged the Board of Supervisors not to schedule a special election for her recall. They say the recall vote should be placed on the November general election ballot to save money and to ensure that as many voters as possible can weigh in on Price's future.   

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