California AG Steps in to Prosecute Contra Costa DA Over Campaign Finances

MARTINEZ, Calif. (CN) – The California Attorney General’s office will assume the role of prosecutor in civil corruption proceedings against the Contra Costa district attorney, slated to begin in two weeks.

A civil grand jury indicted Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson last month, accusing the DA of using more than $66,000 in campaign money to pay for personal activities like movie tickets and clothes.

The grand jury also said Peterson’s willful misconduct and corruption warranted his removal from office.

On Thursday, a state court judge appointed the state attorney general’s office as the prosecuting agency, a move stipulated by California law mandating the state to intervene when a civil grand jury proceeding is undertaken against a district attorney.

Since the proceedings are civil rather than criminal, the most serious consequences Peterson faces is removal from office.

In an email, Peterson said, “We look forward to addressing this matter in court.”

This past December, Peterson admitted using campaign finances inappropriately between 2011 to 2015, but so far has resisted calls to step down and has said he will run for re-election against two challengers later this year.

In January, the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission fined Peterson $45,000.

Peterson expressed regret and said he thought the money was essentially a loan that he intended to pay back.

His arraignment is scheduled for June 14.


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