Sheriff candidate Bill Hunt’s problems with police unions, stemming from his work as a private investigator on behalf of a reputed gang member, are not likely to stop at Santa Ana.
The Santa Ana police officers union dropped its endorsement this week after learning of the former sheriff’s deputy’s connection with the defense of a 20-year-old robbery suspect accused of gang affiliations.
This revelation could put an array of Hunt’s police endorsements in jeopardy. His website lists a host of police unions across Orange County that have endorsed him, including La Habra, Laguna Beach, Buena Park and Long Beach.
And then there is the big daddy of police unions: The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.
AOCDS President Wayne Quint was mum about the concerns being raised this morning when I spoke with him other than to say he was aware of the issue raised by the Santa Ana police union.
Quint did note that the issue would be discussed at the union’s political action committee next week.
It’s not likely that any action would be coming before the primary though, because the union has already endorsed Hunt and sent out several mailers on his behalf. It’s unlikely the group would essentially torch the money already spent on mailers.
But if Hunt makes it to a November runoff with Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, it could be a different story.
It’s unlikely that rank and file would endorse Hutchens — they already had a chance earlier this year and overwhelmingly went against the incumbent. Rumors have morale as very low because Hutchens is seen as an L.A.-style bureaucrat inside the department.
But it is possible that the county’s largest law enforcement union could decide to stand on the sidelines.
Then there is the chance that Hunt could actually use the dust-up to his political advantage to blunt the criticism in some Republican circles that Hunt is the union candidate.
Clarification: Due to an editing error, the wording of a previous version of this story made it seem like Bill Hunt is a defense lawyer. He worked as a private investigator in the criminal defense of a reputed gang member.
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.