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Op-Ed: U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy Must Resign

by Steve Peace, published

The election is behind us. Political season is in brief recess and we enter a period in which governing takes precedent over politics.There is always some unfinished business leftover from the hysteria that seems inevitable in the waning weeks of campaigning.In San Diego, there is one glaring transgression left unaddressed. U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy has yet to do the right thing by way of her agency and the citizens she swore to serve.

As the appointed U.S. Attorney for the region, Duffy is the most important prosecutorial authority in our region. For reasons known only to her, she chose to compromise the integrity of her office by involving herself in the campaign for Mayor of San Diego.

There is room for debate about whether her support for and involvement in the campaign, including the use of her official title as U.S. Attorney, constituted a violation of the Hatch Act (although her own office has applied a standard to others that, if applied to her, would appear to find her in violation of the act).

What is unambiguously clear is that Duffy violated the Department of Justice ethics standards.

People make mistakes. Even if her actions were illegal, I would not support prosecution. There are remedies short of a legal confrontation and Duffy, no doubt, has a great future ahead of her and much to offer as a talented young attorney.

But, the most important thing young leaders can do is recognize mistakes, take responsibility for them, and act in a manner that sets an example for those they lead by preserving and protecting the mission of their institution.

So far, we have heard nothing from Ms. Duffy. Thanksgiving is now behind us. One would hope that the holiday has provided some time for reflection. It may not seem this way to her now, but she would serve her own long term interest by putting the Office of the U.S. Attorney above herself, and resign.

There is no other way to remove the taint from any possible future involvement that her office might have involving San Diego political figures and governmental officials.

The US Attorney’s office simply must be beyond politics, both in fact and in perception. Duffy’s unprecedented lapse in judgment makes this impossible as long as she heads the local office.

Laura Duffy will never regain the credibility she needs to tap her own talents unless she recognizes the reality and accepts the fact that even good people make bad decisions. The good ones fess up, protect their institutions, and move on to better things.

This won’t go away … until she does.

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