Lawsuits fly between recall campaign, contractor

Recall “L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon” campaign volunteers and supporters begin to unload the boxes of signatures from the back of a moving truck so that they may be submitted to the L.A. County Registrar of Voters office in this July file photo. July 6, 2022. Courtesy photo.

Officials with the Recall L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón campaign announced this week they had filed a countersuit against a contractor they say failed to fulfill its contract and failed to pay for the gathered signatures to be validated.  

The countersuit is in response to a lawsuit filed in July against the campaign by the contractor, Let the Voters Decide LLC, which says the campaign made numerous errors in its signature gathering strategy earlier this year and that the leadership team for the failed recall effort owes hundreds of thousands of dollars for unpaid labor and field bonuses. 

The pair of dueling lawsuits were both filed in connection to the campaign’s failed attempt to recall the county’s top prosecutor after the petition to put a special election on the ballot failed in August.  

According to the L.A. County Register of Voters, thousands of the 717,000 signatures that had been submitted by the campaign were disqualified for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to: the signee not being a registered voter, the signature being a duplicate or the address listed not matching the signee’s voter registration address.  

In each lawsuit, both Let the Voters Decide and the Recall George Gascón campaign allege that the other was in large part to blame for the approximately 195,000 signatures being disqualified and that, due to the other’s shoddy work and/or approach to the campaign, damages are owed.  

Let the Voters Decide was the first to file litigation on July 25, alleging that it was hired by the campaign to obtain 400,000 signatures at 75% validation rate, for a total of 300,000 signatures by May of this year. However, the lawsuit states that LTVD agreed to stay on with the campaign through June for a higher rate per signature gathered to ensure that collectors would not leave the campaign. 

In total, LTVD claims that its collectors provided approximately 517,000 signatures and was entitled to payment for at least $448,609. The lawsuit states that the contractor has not received payment for 31,614 signatures at $14 per signature and a minimum of those 9,000 signatures include a $3 bonus amount.  

“LTVD was hired for its expertise and capabilities in obtaining signatures in similar matters across the country, but how and where it implemented its efforts were directed by the committee during the signature collection process,” reads LTVD’s lawsuit. “Defendants made one false step after another, but continued to guarantee LTVD that the committee would uphold their promises and obligations to LTVD. They failed to do so.” 

On Monday, the campaign and its leadership team members named in the LTVD lawsuit filed a suit of their own countering many of the accusations made by the former contractor.  

The countersuit states that LTVD misrepresented how many signatures it could gather on a weekly basis and that throughout the process the contractor was “making inflated representations in order to increase the amount of money” the campaign would pay for signature gathering.  

LTVD, according to the campaign’s lawsuit, also allegedly withheld already gathered signatures in order to lessen the total number collected — thereby deceiving the campaign into increasing the paid price per signature under the pressure of an approaching deadline.  

Additionally, the campaign’s lawsuit alleges that not only did LTVD at times submit tens of thousands of signatures, half of which would be later found invalid, but that the contractor pocketed funds it said would be going to a third-party contractor that would validate the gathered signatures.  

Finally, among a number of other allegations, the campaign lawsuit states that the owner of LTVD, Mark Jacoby, diverted nearly $4,498,798 in funds that had been deposited by the campaign into LTVD’s accounts directly to himself and other entities he controlled.  

The countersuit demands a return from LTVD in excess of $4 million in damages, while the contractor’s lawsuit demands the campaign pay back at least $469,596 that the company claims it’s owed for unpaid signatures, not accounting for all allegedly unpaid field bonuses.  

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