Has Nelson Defended Sex Offenders? Either Way, He’s in Trouble with the Cops

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When I interviewed Shawn Nelson last week at the Pacific Club parking lot after an election debate , I asked him about rumors alleging his law firm’s specialization on sex crime defense cases.

The Republican-endorsed candidate for Fourth District Supervisor looked at me like I was crazy and said accusations that he had were baseless.

He doesn’t do sex crime defenses, he said. He also left the impression that it wasn’t the kind of business he was interested in seeking.

Sex offender issues are always hot-button ones. Last month Voice of OC wrote about the disparity in where convicted sex offenders live. Northern Orange County is home to disproportionately more than the southern part of the county.

North County represents a large part of the fourth district supervisors’ district.

After our quick chat that night, Nelson said he was late for an appointment, so he was off in his SUV agreeing to share a cigar sometime later.

It should make for a pretty good follow up cigar.

The Orange County Employees Association hit-mail on the issue landed in mailboxes this week.

Mail consultants followed the path opened up by the Liberal OC’s Chris Prevatt who apparently went onto the firm of Rizio & Nelson website in early March and blogged about finding a whole section soliciting business for people accused of sex crimes.

The section of defenses went on considerably: child abuse, child enticement, child pornography, indecent exposure and molestation. The OCEA mailer points out that the firm has since scrubbed it’s website of the sex crime defense business.

“Youch,” was the comment from Red County’s editor Matt Cunningham, who posted the ad.

OCEA isn’t the only group calling Nelson out on misleading advertising.

The Fullerton police union has sent out a letter, and is preparing a cease and desist order, calling on Nelson to stop using an old campaign photo with cops and firefighters on his literature accusing him of trying to “dupe” voters.

I spoke on Thursday with Barry Coffman, president of the Fullerton Police Officers Association, who was fuming after seeing a Nelson campaign handout that includes an old 2004 campaign picture where Nelson does the traditional politicians’ pose shaking the hands of local cops and firefighters.

Except Coffman said the local police and fire unions in Fullerton aren’t endorsing Nelson and have declined to do so in several recent city council elections.

Coffman said Nelson’s use of the photo is totally misleading, illegal and he wants an apology.

Coffman’s letter reads:

“After making a very public stance against seeking “union endorsements,” Nelson prominently placed a photo of himself with (Fullerton Police Officers Association) and (Fullerton Firefighters Association) members from the 2004 photo shoot arranged by the FPOA and FFA. He did not ask the FPOA, the FFA, or any of the individuals in the photo for permission to republish it.

“One of the police officers shown in the photo is also a since-fired association ex-president. He also was personal friends with Shawn Nelson.

“The other officer is currently employed by the Fullerton Police Department and is livid her image was used without the FPOA and/or her consent. The firefighter is also a current Fullerton Fire Department employee.

“These FPOA and FFA members have expressly stated that they do not support Councilman Nelson in his bid for the 4th District Supervisor’s seat.

“Further, the images of the three show badges and patches of their department, the usage of which for political purposes is closely watched and prohibited by a series of law and policies and procedures.

“For the record: Neither the FPOA nor the FFA has endorsed any candidate for this election. Neither have the individuals in the misappropriated photo.

“It is the opinion of the FPOA that Nelson is attempting to show he has the support of public safety, when in fact he does not. The FPOA is demanding a public apology by Nelson and public acknowledgement that he does not have the support of the Fullerton Police Officers’ Association, nor the Fullerton Firefighters’ Association.

We’ll be putting a call out to Nelson this morning to see about that cigar.



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