Pamela Price. (Credit: Alameda County District Attorney Office)

Soros DA Pamela Price Being Sued for Wrongful Termination Amid Allegations of Racial Discrimination

Soros-backed Alameda County (California) District Attorney Pamela Price, already facing a November 2024 recall election and backlash from defending a staffer who made crude remarks to family members of crime victims at a recent rally for the recall, is now faced with a lawsuit by a former employee. Price fired Patti Lee in December 2023 from her position as public information officer for the DA’s office. No one in the DA’s office provided a reason for the dismissal. In Lee’s lawsuit, she alleges the firing was in response to her opposing the destruction of documents requested by local news media personnel. These documents related to Price ordering the removal of a local reporter, Emilie Raguso of the Berkeley Scanner, which focuses on local crime stories, from a November 2023 press conference.

In the lawsuit, available in full here, Lee states the problems began when, among the media present, Raguso alone was not allowed to attend a press conference led by Price.

By way of background, on November 29, 2023, news reporter Emilie Raguso, who runs The Berkeley Scanner, was barred from entering a press conference for “lacking the required media credentials.” The press conference was centered on Alameda County District Attorney’s Office effort to assist crime victims and their families – a topic that that was of high interest to Ms. Raguso. Meanwhile, other members of the media were welcomed into the press conference without any scrutiny of their credentials or affiliations. According to Ms. Raguso, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office had made it known that it was not pleased with the reporting of Ms. Raguso.
Ms. Lee was aware of the preexisting animosity and knew that the reasons for refusing Ms. Raguso access to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office’s press conference were pretextual. In fact, Ms. Lee herself, along with Communications Director Haaziq Madyun, were the ones who interacted with Ms. Raguso and assisted inspector Ramon Middleton with escorting Ms. Raguso out of the press conference at the specific behest of District Attorney Pamela Price.
The incident involving the barring of Emilie Raguso from District Attorney Pamela Price’s press conference on November 29, 2023, should be no unfamiliar issue to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. In fact, it was well-publicized. Reporters, press freedom groups, and First Amendment organizations were understandably troubled by this cartoonish violation of the First Amendment, content-based restriction of reporting, and the arbitrary exclusion of a reporter from the conference organized by District Attorney Pamela Price.

Lee quickly found herself handling multiple requests from local news organizations seeking clarification regarding the DA office’s handling of press credentials in general and the incident involving Raguso in particular. Price issued a press release on December 2, 2023, “reaffirming her commitment to the First Amendment” and declaring Raguso would be allowed to attend future press conferences. Nevertheless, the requests from local media continued, and Lee discovered her superiors were decidedly less than forthcoming in responding to these requests.

(I)t became evident that instead of producing responsive records to CPRA requests, the Alameda County District Attorney chose instead to hide, delete, and change the records. Ms. Lee expressed concerns to Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Catherine Kobal that Mr. Madyun may have deleted or altered records that were responsive to CPRA requests. Significantly, Ms. Lee was aware of responsive documents that existed and contradicted the narrative that the office wanted to portray in withholding such records.
That same week, Ms. Lee also had a number of Microsoft Teams meetings with Mr. Madyun about locating responsive documents. However, it became clear that Mr. Madyun was not being forthcoming with the documents that he knew were in the possession of the Alameda County Assistant District Attorney’s Office.
For that reason, Ms. Lee refused to sign off on the responses to the CPRA request because she believed them to be misleading and untruthful. Ms. Lee also spoke up and advocated that she did not want to participate in illegally withholding records that the public was entitled to. Ms. Lee stated that she did not feel it was ethical to withhold public records and did not want to be personally responsible for doing so.

Lee continued to press the matter and, presumably as a result, was fired on December 12, 2023.

Elsewhere in the lawsuit, accusations of openly expressed hostility by Price toward Lee and other Asian Americans are raised.

During Ms. Lee’s employment with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, Ms. Lee experienced a clear anti-Asian sentiment during her employment, where she would frequently hear derogatory comments about her race made by supervisory employees, including by District Attorney Pamela Price herself. Indeed, Ms. Price would constantly and openly make derogatory remarks against Asian Americans. Ms. Price’s discriminatory animus toward Asian Americans has been well-documented in the media.
In fact, it was well-known within the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office that Ms. Price had a racial animus toward people of East Asian Descent. In one instance, Ms. Price told Ms. Lee, in front of Cole Pro Media reporter Joe Vasquez, that her enemies were “the media and the Asians.” Shocked and astonished by Ms. Price’s conduct, Ms. Lee thereafter texted Mr. Vasquez to discuss her concern that Ms. Price would vocalize these racist statements so openly. Mr. Vasquez then told Ms. Lee that these racist comments were commonplace and were made frequently. From time to time, Ms. Price would also utter audible remarks under her breath in front of Ms. Lee about how she suspected Ms. Lee was leaking information to the press and working with Asian American activists, including Carl Chan of Save Alameda For Everyone, who was actively seeking to recall Ms. Price.

Price’s open hostility toward Asian Americans is no secret. In April 2023, Price angered the local Chinese American community by waffling on the charges filed against suspected gang members alleged to have shot and killed toddler Jasper Wu when crossfire between the rival alleged gang members hit the car Wu was riding in along with his parents. Price further infuriated the Chinese American community by insisting it, along with local reporters of Asian descent, were engaged in “misinformation” efforts against her.

MORECalifornia Community Demands Justice for Murdered Toddler; Alameda County DA Pamela Price Calls It Racist

Pamela Price seems fiercely determined to throw away her career on all possible fronts. I see no reason to deter her from this chosen course.

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