THE SACRAMENTO BEE / BY MARCOS BRETÓN / APRIL 26, 2021
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced Monday that she is running for attorney general of California.
Schubert will challenge incumbent Rob Bonta, who was just sworn in on Friday to succeed Xavier Becerra. Becerra departed to become U.S. Health and Human Services secretary under President Joe Biden.
“I’ve done nothing else in my life other than being a public safety advocate,” Schubert said in an exclusive interview with The Bee before her announcement. “I’m running because I believe the system deserves balance. I believe that the attorney general job should not be political. I’ve learned over the last 30 years that no matter what your walk of life is, everyone wants the same thing: They want their community to be safe.
Bonta is the first Filipino American attorney general. Schubert, 57, would be the first openly gay state attorney general if elected. Unlike Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom, Schubert is pro-death penalty just like a slim majority of Californians who rejected a death penalty repeal at the ballot box in 2016.
Even more significantly, Schubert is the rare political candidate vying for a major statewide office who is neither Republican nor Democrat. In 2018, after she was easily re-elected to a second term as DA, Schubert switched her political affiliation from Republican to “no party preference.”
She believes that will be an asset in her statewide run.
“I left the Republican party because I wanted to be authentic,” she said. “ I’m an independent. I have some liberal views on some issues and some conservative views on others, but that shouldn’t play a role in this job. The state, in my opinion, is at a crossroads: What do we want our justice system to be? “
Schubert’s answer to that question is this: “Yes, I believe very strongly that violent criminals need to be held accountable. I believe that people shouldn’t harm our children. I believe that we need to get illegal guns off of our streets…But, with that being said, I believe California deserves someone who is passionate, persistent and balanced. I am the most qualified person that is going to be in this race, there is no doubt in my mind.”
PUT GOLDEN STATE KILLER BEHIND BARS
Schubert is a Sacramento native and career prosecutor who climbed the ranks in her office to become DA in her hometown. She gained national and international attention as one of the key figures in the arrest and prosecution of the Golden State Killer.
On April 25, 2018, Schubert announced the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, later convicted and sentenced to 11 consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole. DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnap for robbery. He also admitted to 62 rapes and other crimes.
DeAngelo was caught, decades after his trail went cold, by with DNA evidence, a revolutionary law enforcement tool that Schubert helped pioneer as a young prosecutor.
In 2000, Schubert filed an arrest warrant for a notorious Sacramento rapist who had eluded authorities. With the statute of limitations nearing in the case, Schubert didn’t have a name to put on the warrant. But she did have DNA from the crime scene so she filed a warrant with only the DNA to identify the suspect, known as a “John Doe” warrant.
Weeks later, Paul Eugene Robinson was arrested in the case dubbed “The Second Story Rapist.” The perpetrator preyed on women living in second-story apartments. Robinson went to prison and the case went all the way to the state Supreme Court, which upheld Schubert’s warrant and Robinson’s conviction.
INVESTIGATED CALIFORNIA EDD SCANDAL
Recently, Schubert has been a central figure in combating California’s Employment Development Department scandal, where, as The Bee’s Sam Stanton wrote: “Inmates at California’s prisons and jails have filed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fraudulent claims since the pandemic arrived…Investigators are still tallying totals after learning of a widespread scheme in September, but the amount of fraudulent claims the state has paid could reach $1 billion.”
“Probably in the history of this country, you are not going to find a more massive, fraudulent scandal,” she said. ”And all because I pushed it and the DAs pushed it. Where is the state attorney general on it? That was a statewide issue and I took ownership of it.
Schubert said her leadership in cracking the EDD scandal was reflective of the kind of prosecutor she has always been.
“I’ve been in the trenches,” Schubert said. “I’ve sat with homicide victims. Their mothers, their children. I know families who have experienced terrible things and I’ve been that one who has done that my entire career.”
Schubert compared Bonta to Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, who was elected last November and has been pilloried by victims rights groups and law enforcement for implementing policies that, his critics say, favor criminals over victims. In February, the union representing prosecutors working for Gascón sued him over policies to suspend sentencing enhancements that lengthen the amount of time prisoners are incarcerated.
Schubert compared Bonta to Gascón in Los Angeles and San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin. “Rob Bonta has no regard for crime victims,” Schubert said. “I think Rob Bonta is similar, if not identical, to the district attorney in San Francisco and Los Angeles.”
“I don’t want the pendulum to swing back to the right,” she said. “That’s not my goal. I have very good relationships with people on both sides of the aisle, I’m a fixer. People know me. “
Schubert said that the rush by some progressives such as Gascón and Boudin is swinging the justice pendulum too far from the rights of crime victims and public safety.
“California has very strict gun laws but that doesn’t stop criminals from getting guns,” she said. “ It’s not just about keeping the guns out of the hands of people who are prohibited from having them. But it’s also about being tough on gun crimes. We should be. If people are felons and running around with guns we shouldn’t let them out on zero bail.”
TOUTS SACRAMENTO EXPERIENCE
Unlike Bonta, Schubert has years of experience running a large department filled with prosecutors. But running for state AG involves some sacrifice. She is up for re-election as DA in 2022, the same election cycle the AG job. Whether she wins or loses the AG race, the cost of running for it means she has to give up her dream job.
“It’s a very big decision but I also feel like I’m ready for this,” Schubert said. Later in the year, Schubert said she will announce who she will endorse in the 2022 election to succeed her as Sacramento DA.
Schubert is a mom to two teenage boys she is raising with her partner. She said she is not a “gay prosecutor, but a prosecutor who happens to be gay.”
Schubert is from a big Catholic family in Sacramento. She graduated from the now-closed Loretto High School, an all-girls Catholic school. In 2008, her older brother Frank ran the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, the ballot initiative passed by Californians voters that temporarily banned gay marriage in California.
Schubert first ran for DA in 2014 and won, becoming the first openly gay official elected to countywide office in Sacramento County. She did so without the support of the local gay community, which didn’t support her because of her brother.
Gay advocates in Sacramento wanted her to disavow her brother and she refused.
“I love my brother, but I disagree with him on issues related to marriage equality,” she told me at the time. “… We don’t agree on all things, but he agrees I am the most qualified for the job.”
The experience of becoming the first gay candidate to win office countywide without the support of mainstream gay leaders demonstrated Schubert’s ability to win without being rattled by trying, complex campaign issues. When she ran for re-election in 2018, progressives threw a lot of money at her opponent, in part, because Schubert had not prosecuted Sacramento cops in some high profile killings of Black men. She won easily and still stands by her decisions.
She said she plans to travel widely across California to sell herself as an independent voice, an experienced prosecutor, an authentic person, a supporter of crime victims. She said she would use her position to advocate for sensible public policy.
“I’m respected by my colleagues because you aren’t going to find someone who works harder than me,” she said. “I’m not going to be shy about it. I’m not afraid to be the first at certain things. I’m proud of the firsts in my career. California will elect the first independent attorney general and I’m going to that person because I honestly believe in California.”