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LA County Sheriff Candidates Want Paul Tanaka Out Over Federal Corruption Probe

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PORTER RANCH (CBSLA.com) — With two weeks to go before the California primary, there’s been a big shake-up in the race for Los Angeles County Sheriff.

KCAL9’s Dave Bryan reports the fallout from the revelation that one of the leading candidates, Paul Tanaka, is the subject of a federal investigation was very much in evidence at a candidate forum in Porter Ranch Tuesday night.

In the first five minutes of the forum, two candidates in the race called on former undersheriff Tanaka, now mayor of Gardena, to drop out of the race.

“There’s a lot of news media attention right now relative to corruption. And we have, literally, the Pied Piper of corruption in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department who was outed yesterday in federal court as the subject of a federal investigation. And he’s a candidate for sheriff who chose not to come here tonight,” candidate Todd Rodgers said.

“We’ve seen these core values applied separately and individually according to the whims of the executives in the department. The fact that he is now under a federal investigation and he was actually leading the organization is the antithesis of what good core values for this organization should be,” candidate Bob Olmsted added.

In federal court this week, Tanaka acknowledged he is the subject of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation into charges of brutality and corruption at the L.A. County jails.

Being a subject means his conduct is under investigation as part of a broader inquiry, but does not mean he’s a target for criminal charges at this time.

Tanaka was a no-show at the candidate forum, after its sponsors say his campaign had confirmed before the revelation that he would be participating.

Outside the forum, Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers blamed Tanaka for many of the high-profile events within the department now under investigation by the FBI.

“The common denominator with a lot of the scandals we’ve been facing, whether it be the bullet-proof vests sent from Gardena to Cambodia, or operation Pandora’s Box, hiding the inmate from the FBI – the common denominator in all of those is with Paul Tanaka and his followers,” Rodgers said.

A third candidate for sheriff who was not present at the forum also indicated he thinks Tanaka should drop out.

Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said the entire community would be better off if Tanaka ended his campaign.

Retired Sheriff’s Dept. Commander Bob Olmsted meanwhile called on all the other candidates to join in.

“The fact that Paul Tanaka has been behind this the whole time, pulling the puppet strings on this – the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence pointed fingers saying he’s the individual. And now we’ve got the federal investigation going on where he is the subject of the investigation. Criminal investigation. This is shameful,” Olmsted said.

Tanaka has long been considered a major candidate in the race because of his name recognition following his post as undersheriff.

It’s too soon to know how much damage the revelation will have on that. Some, however, believe this may open a second spot in the run-off for one of the other candidates.

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