San Diego's three-term District Attorney -- facing her first re-election challenge -- is now under fire from her main rival in connection with a case her office prosecuted and lost several years ago.
The dustup involves un-released documents stemming from an investigation into Chula Vista city officials, after the then-mayor turned down a request by incumbent D.A. Bonnie Dumanis to back one of her key aides for a Council position.
"Was prosecutorial discretion in the Castaneda case being abused to further a political agenda?” Dumanis’ main rival, Bob Brewer, asked rhetorically at a Tuesday news conference across Broadway from Dumanis’ office in the Hall of Justice.
“Did politics replace the public interest in charging a citizen with a crime?" the former prosecutor-turned-defense attorney continued, referring to a criminal case Dumanis brought against then-Councilman Steve Castaneda.
In 2008, a jury acquitted Castaneda on six perjury charges and deadlocked on four other counts.
The trial deputy in the Castaneda case now supports Brewer, and his records recently came to light in the D.A.'s office.
Also at the downtown news media gathering was open government advocate and former City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who joined Brewer in demanding the release of the documents behind the Chula Vista investigations: "It's reasonable for the public to ask whether or not the authority of the District Attorney was being abused to further a political agenda."
Said Brewer: "I'm going to base my administration on public safety, without politics. And what we're talking about today is the type of politics that should never be present in a district attorney's office."
Dumanis faces a second challenger, retired deputy D.A. Terri Wyatt, who accuses both Brewer and Dumanis of being highly politicized.
"Bob Brewer is saying he will not be political, and yet he's holding a press conference today with Donna Frye by his side,” Wyatt said in an interview with NBC 7. “And I see him conducting his entire candidacy as a politician himself. He is equally as political as Bonnie Dumanis."
According to Wyatt, the Brewer-Dumanis matchup is dividing the D.A.’s office.
“Deputy D.A.'s are fighting against each other in a very horrific way,” she said. “It's sad to see that, and it's between the camps."
Dumanis' campaign did not offer interviews or “media availabilities" with her.
The response to all this came in an emailed statement from her strategist, Jennifer Tierney, that concluded: "The District Attorney won't be rushed to release these documents before they are properly reviewed because it might win a few votes. That would be the absolute definition of politics over public safety. She'll leave that to Bob Brewer."
Meantime, total fundraising in the race is approaching a million dollars, with money from Brewer backers outpacing Dumanis' by a 5-to-4 margin.
Even so, Dumanis' campaign says Brewer is polling 30 points behind the incumbent.
Wyatt's treasury is less than $20,000.