Nutting calls charges politically motivated; Harn, Pierson fight back
While he awaits a new court date, Supervisor Ray Nutting has taken his defense public, claiming “political motives” have put him under public scrutiny and subject to a number of legal charges, both felony and misdemeanor. Nutting specifically identifies El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson and El Dorado County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn as being part of, if not leading an effort to, “bring him down.”
The two elected officials call the accusations false and “ludicrous.”
“Ray’s statement that I am politically motivated to personally and financially harm him is wrong and without any factual basis,” Harn wrote in an e-mail. “I have supported most of his political campaigns financially for the last two decades. I helped Ray put up campaign signs for his reelection in Cameron Park in 2012.”
Harn said he also hosted campaign fundraisers and forwarded a copy of a thank you note he received from Nutting after an election event last year.
“Joe, Thanks for coming to my event. Sincerely, you work hard and care about OUR county. Ray,” the note reads.
Nutting’s rationale for the “bad blood” between Harn and him comes down to money.
“I talked to Joe Harn about six months ago and I told him that he is making too much money,” Nutting explained in an e-mail. “I said that $47,000 in benefits with a base salary of over $200,000 per year is outrageous. When I first found out I was shocked. Every time he gets elected he makes almost a million dollars from the taxpayers of El Dorado County.”
Harn’s actual salary is $196,000,which includes longevity pay and a CPA certificate differential.
Nutting also said he and the auditor-controller and district attorney clashed over the 2010 El Dorado County sheriff election and, he claims, District Attorney Pierson backed out on supporting Nutting’s preferred candidate and eventual winner John D’Agostini.
“Then for whatever reason he went back on his word and supported Craig Therkildsen,” Nutting wrote. “I believe big money influenced his decision. I have very little trust with (sic) District Attorney Vern Pierson and he knows it. I really wonder if our citizens are being fairly treated by our elected District Attorney Vern Pierson (sic). He has a lot of power and can ruin a person’s life with very little evidence. This could be a very dangerous situation for the public. I have had many calls in my office (from people saying that they) don’t trust District Attorney Vern Pierson.”
Nutting’s e-mail states that he will no longer support Pierson or Harn for reelection, adding in his e-mail, “Vern Pierson and Joe Harn are doing everything they can to control this county and I am in their way. As the weeks go by and they throw more charges against me the public is catching on. At times it has been hard to stay in the fight. But rest assured, I have never walked away from a fight in my entire life. They started this fight and I look forward to finishing the fight. I look forward to trial ASAP and letting the public know what is really going on!”
Pierson said Nutting’s finger-pointing is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the fact that the supervisor committed crimes.
“For more than 22 years I have held criminals accountable for their actions. I have found that rarely do they like it,” Pierson explained. “Often times, they attack the people charged with this responsibility. In the end, they are held to account. Sometimes it is with a verdict from a jury and others the product of a long look in the mirror.”
Harn called Nutting’s assertions that criminal charges against him are politically motivated, “ludicrous” and added, “Ray has been indicted by a criminal grand jury on felony charges.
“Vern Pierson and the California attorney general believe that there is adequate evidence to try Ray before a jury for these felony counts,” Harn continued. “Ray has no one to blame for the situation that he is in but himself.”
Harn said that over his years as county auditor-controller, he has been a “focus of anger” from individuals who he said were “inappropriately getting taxpayers’ money.” When he has brought that to the public’s attention, Harn said, “People get angry and call you names. It just comes with being district attorney and county auditor-controller.”
Nutting has been charged with four felonies accusing the supervisor of failing to disclose income, filing false documents, perjury and failing to recuse himself from votes in which he had a financial interest. The charges stem from Nutting’s participation in the Proposition 40 Fuels Reduction Program over the last several years. An additional seven misdemeanors were added to the complaint after his June 4 arrest when the superiors allegedly illegally borrowed money to make bail.
Nutting’s friends and supporters have set up a legal defense fund. He’s represented by Attorney David Weiner.
A prepared statement last week from Nutting’s District 2 office states that he continues his involvement in county business and constituent affairs. However, on the advice of County Counsel Ed Knapp, Nutting has voluntarily chosen not to participate in any discussions or official actions that relate to federal funding. He also has voluntarily opted not to take part in matters related to budgetary or financial issues.