Santa Clara Co. Sheriff Demands Full Retraction, Skips Mercury News’ Endorsement Interview

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith has avoided speaking to journalists since the Mercury News published a story a couple weeks ago that unearthed decades-old allegations of misconduct. Now, the 20-year sheriff who’s running for an unprecedented sixth term this June refuses to sit down for an endorsement interview with Silicon Valley’s daily paper of record until it retracts the entire article.

That’s a big ask, her longtime attorney Rich Robinson concedes, but he says the sheriff stands by it because “the whole thing was a lie, every single line of it.”

Smith making herself inaccessible to the Merc’s editorial board and news reporters comes amid criticism from her main challenger for re-election that she’s also disengaged from constituents.

Former Undersheriff John Hirokawa, who’s one of a handful of candidates in the sheriff’s race, called Smith out on Tuesday for declining to participate in a series of upcoming candidate forums where she’d have a chance to publicly address an ongoing inmate hunger strike, the recent re-introduction of riot guns in the jails and how federal immigration agents were “mistakenly” allowed to interview detainees earlier this year.

Bill James—who chairs the county Democratic Party, which endorsed Hirokawa—says he hopes Smith “reconsiders her approach and remembers who she works for.”

Assistant Sheriff Rick Sung, a Smith supporter, dismisses remarks from Hirokawa and his backers as desperate.

“They’re doing everything they can to muddy the campaign,” Sung says.

In a brief phone call Tuesday, the sheriff declined to comment for fear of being “taken way out of context.”

But one of her campaign consultants, Laura Teutschel, says anyone who thinks Smith is aloof should keep in mind that she’s balancing two extremely demanding jobs.

“Bottom line is she’s running the sheriff’s office and she’s campaigning,” Teutschel says. “But she’s out in the community all the time.”

Below is a list of events provided by Teutschel where the sheriff plans to make an appearance.

Candidate Forums

District 8 Roundtable, May 4

Berryessa Citizens Advisory Council, May 14

League of Women Voters, May 17

PAC for the Common Good, May 17

Community Events

San Jose Pioneer Lions Club’s 16th Annual Community Safety Awards, April 18

9th Annual International Children’s Festival, April 21

Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at Iglesia Ni Cristo, April 21

A Holocaust Survivor’s Story Event, April 23

La Raza Roundtable, April 27

Send a tip to The Fly

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. Robinson and Smith deserve each other. Read racist Rich’s views on people who marry Asian Americans

    • What exactly are you referring to when you talk about Rich’s racist views? I saw your comment on a previous article that Rich had attacked an opponent for marrying an Asian-American and taking their last name, but I’m not sure what attacks and what opponent you’re referring to. I personally feel that Robinson has been on the wrong side of a lot of local races, but it’s not really cool to make allegations of racism without offering explanation.

      • You cannot accuse someone of adopting a married name of a husband for political advantage. That is racist. Kathy Watanabe may have flaws, but she is a loving wife and a caring mom. That is not a weakness, but an asset. Are her children any less Asian? No, Robinson has done it before. He is a racist.

  2. As John Hirokawa’s campaign manager, I’ve been looking forward to opportunities to engage voters in a serious discussion about the litany of issues at the Sheriff’s Office. Until last week, Laurie Smith had refused to participate in any of the candidate forums. I’m grateful that she has partly changed her mind so voters can democratically make their decision.

    Still, here are the forums where I hope she will once again change her mind and decide to particupate:

    SIREN Immigration Forum: Tuessay, April 24, 6 to 8 pm, in Mountain View

    Candidate Forum: Wednesday, April 25, 6 pm, hosted by Silicon Valley Association of Republican Women in Campbell

    School Safety and Gun Violence Prevention Candidate Forum: Thursday, April 26, 12 pm, hosted by De Anza Student Association in Cupertino

    Jeff Cardenas

    • How can Dev Davis be on the San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara City Council at the same time? That isn’t legal! You have to live in the City you represent!

  3. I can’t think of any reason to vote for Laurie Smith.
    I can’t think of any reason to vote for John Hirokawa.

    Hiring Rich Robinson to run her campaign is certainly evidence of poor judgement, desperation, drunkenness, or psycho-social dysfunction on the part of Smith.

    Being endorsed by Bill James is, correspondingly, evidence of social isolation, falling in with the wrong crowd, of dyslexic misidentification on the part of James. (Maybe James meant Sam Hayakawa?)

    I don’t know what to do.

  4. Hirokawa silently sat in the shadows as the Chief of Correction and now blames all of the past jail problems on Sheriff Smith. Easy to side step then point fingers.

    Sheriff Smith’s “Sexual harassment” accuser was very well known for his alcohol abuse off, AND ON the job. Driving a marked patrol vehicle and endangering the lives of the public he swore to protect. I would like all those people standing with him to deny any of that! Keep in mind his countless affairs with women in the Sheriff’s Office and whom is now making the complaint.

    Leave it to the Merc to drink the Hirokawa camp’s koolaid.

    • A) Hirokawa was in charge of laundry, warehousing and food services. Just like Neusel is today. One look at the organizational chart shows how tightly confined the “Chief of Corrections” position really is. If you have any question about how far Hirokawa’s reach didn’t go, all one has to do is go to the Board of Supervisors meetings where Hiro presented the jail budget to them. Nearly any question, any changes, anything the BoS wanted Hiro responded that he would have to consult with Laurie. He was simply a face to throw down if things went wrong. Just like Neusel is now, him and his 1956 steel. The decision to cut all oversight roles, the decision to cut already below standards staffing by 25% more, the decision to destroy the functionality of the Jail Training Officer program – all that rests firmly on Laurie Smith’s shoulders and her proposals, which also can be viewed in the video of meetings.

      B) Shall we talk about Laurie Smith being perfectly okay, as sheriff, with deputies driving drunk on duty? Please, lets talk about that. Let’s talk about Laurie being okay with sexual harassment going on to this very day in her office. How her favored children can even stalk subordinates at their homes. Let’s talk about all the completely horrible things that Laurie will turn her back on when it comes to those that are willing to dirty themselves for her.

      You have a problem with what Brady did? That’s well and good and I have no problem with it. But don’t be a hypocrite and support the woman who is to this day fostering that same environment to the best of her ability in order to manipulate failure to her benefit as sheriff.

    • Hey, everyone! Just an FYI. The lying coward Zerokawa is nobody but the perrenial failed candidate for any law enforcement executive position, Martin Monica. To slander a devoted professional law enforcement officer like Gary Brady, one of the most respected deputy sheriffs in the history of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, is loser mentality. Monica’s rhetoric is indicative of his lack of intelligence and intellectual honesty. He has nothing positive to overcome his opposition,so he slings dirt at one of the most highly respected people in the department. He saved my life once, and I’ve known and loved him beyond that. He is a man who was exploited by someone who used her authority to step on his pride and dignity.
      Come out of the shadows, Zerokawa. Or don’t you have the balls to do it?

      • Martin Monica. You have no idea of who Gary Brady is. He is the Professional who took the time to mentor Custody staff in how to identify inmates under the influence. He provided us with the tools to proactively address the problem as PCP became the drug of choice. His training allowed us to stay safe and go home each night. This and other selfless acts are what he was highly decorated for over the years.

        When I look at your resume, I see a failed Broker who thinks he can lead a Sheriff’s Department. You have no idea of the complex issues. Shame on you for hiding behind some AKA and putting down a Professional like Gary. You prove you have a loose grasp on legal concepts. No means No. Retailiation in the work place is wrong. Hostile work environments are created by power drunk people. To further your confuse us, you appear to be siding with your long time nemesis: Laurie Smith. What you might want to do is stay on point and focus on your Challenger. You do not know Gary and should not speak to things without DOCUMENTED PROOF. He is not a public figure. He is a victim of Harrassment. You only show yourself to be part of the problem when you try to diminish his pain for your selfserving needs. Shame on you.

    • I have worked with Gary Brady a countless of times and have NEVER seen him abuse alcohol. Didn’t see him often off duty, but then again, it’s really no one’s business what he does off duty. Point is, what does this have to do with the allegation of Brady being sexually harassed by the Sheriff? It happened…with others, as well! So it happened 20-25 years ago…convince the Cosby accusers that charges should not be brought against him today! And since you appear to know so much about Brady and so willing to smear him with lies, why don’t you identify yourself to provide some validity to your accusations!

    • Have you heard the verdict on the Cosby trial, Mr. Zerokawa? The Merc may be drinking Hirokawa’s koolaid and if Smith doesn’t change her ways, she’ll be drinking the koolaid they serve in prison!

    • You really should get your facts straight. You are either repeating rumors or starting them. Either way, your statements are inaccurate.

  5. “[Smith’s] longtime attorney Rich Robinson”
    “one of [Smith’s] campaign consultants, Laura Teutschel”

    So Richie has been booted as a campaign consultant? Now that’s humorous. Also humorous: looking at Teutschel’s picture and understanding where that horrible idea to photoshop a 65 year old woman into a 25 year old caricature of herself on election materials. Ladies, some advice – if you’re about supporting women, that means being proud of your war scars and making the rest of the world recognize there is nothing wrong with women over 25 years old. You shame us, you demean us, and you erase us when you do that. You are not supporting women with your overly photo shopped caricatures, you’re working to women recognized as little more than pretty decorations with little value once there’s a wrinkle.

      • Joe, what was it again that Lt. Salcido did as DSA president that so upset the deputies the DSA to change their bylaws so a lieutenant can never hold the office of DSA president again?

        • Took on the Sheriff, as he is now, while Laurie promoted anyone who attacked the DSA/Salcido. People like you.

          • So the entire dsa body voted to remove lieutenants from sitting in a role that could act autonomously because Salcido was working for them against the sheriff? I’ll give you one more chance, try to at least make whatever excuse you come up with a logical one.

      • The entire dsa body did not vote. People wanted change so what did you do. Give up 3%@50 for the new hires, but made sure you kept it for yourself. Gave up the bench mark between DSA and SJPOA resulting in huge difference in the total compensation package (if you know what that means). Then you reverse your Lt. clause, people get promoted and you have exactly what you wished for. Now you turn about face and cast aspersions and insults at the Sheriff. You know I was always suspect of people like you. It’s not so much what you expressed while I was standing there looking you in the face. It was when you turned around to walk away and I could see the nose from your other face sticking out the back of your head that made me suspect.

  6. Smith and Hirokawa are two sides of the same coin. If you don’t want the status quo, vote Joe ( La Jeunesse ) for Sheriff.

    • Vote Joe? The guy who has so much respect for deputies that he said Hirokawa “did nothing with his life but be a deputy”? As if being a deputy is somehow beneath him? The guy who is so derisive of his uniform that there isn’t a single picture of him in it on his page? The guy who can’t go on patrol because his FTOs didn’t want to sign off on someone every FTO he trained under said should be release?

      Thanks, I’ll pass.

  7. Rich Robinson is as much an attorney for his political clients as Michael Cohen is an attorney for Donald Trump.

    Both Robinson and Cohen are political henchmen with law degrees. They say they’re acting as attorneys to hide their information, actions, and potential misdeeds behind attorney-client privilege. That important protection only applies to an attorney giving legal advice and disappears if the attorney has violated the law.

    Thankfully, Cohen is getting called out on his BS by Robert Mueller. Robinson need to be called out on his, too.

    No one in their right mind would hire Robinson as an attorney.

  8. All the more reason to voter for someone not connected to the current fiasco in the Office of the Sheriff.
    Vote for Lieutenant JOSE SALCIDO. He has the character and integrity to set the department back on track.

  9. Once again the media is trying to sway the election. They never mention the other candidates. The sheriff and undersheriff had their opportunity to run the department and in the end, they failed. Give recognition to all the candidates.
    Martin Monica Candidate for sheriff

    • Martin Monica…you’re out there somewhere and I’d like to know what the heck you’re thinking, running for Sheriff! You had problems making it a San Jose cop and now you want to be the sheriff if Santa Clara County?!? Someone needs to wake you up!!!


    Stop the Harassment Sheriff Laurie Smith!!!!!! Protect the public from speaking up against corruption in Santa Clara County. This is the United States of America….. not North Korea!!!

    Stop breaking activist hands….. Stop showing up at peoples front doors….. stop calling in “Politically Motivated” welfare checks….. Double Arm Bar take downs to shut the public up from speaking is shameful and must stop now. We need new leader ship to shut down this run away “Laurie Smith” train…. We need ” Regime Change” in Santa Clara County!!

  11. Here we go again. Another sheriff’s race to divide the department. For those of you who support Laurie Smith I would suggest you look in the mirror and ask yourself a few questions. Then, if you have enough integrity to answer honestly I think you might reconsider your opinion.

    Start at the beginning and ask, how did Laurie Smith get promoted from Sergeant to Assistant Sheriff, passing over Lieutenant’s and Captain’s who were much more qualified? Those of you who have been around the department since then know the answer. It’s often referred to as a “close relationship” with the then sheriff. Yeah right, “close.” I guess we can continue to sugar coat the truth.

    Then you might ask yourself if she is fair in dealing with the officers that work for her. Again, if you work for her you know she is vindictive, vengeful, mean spirited and ready to screw over anybody she has a disagreement with. If you are on the good side of her ledger, you get the choice assignments or preferred treatment. If you’re on the negative side of her ledger she will do everything she can to make your life difficult.

    Ask if she has been a good administrator. Pretty simple answer there. The jails are a mess. An inmate has been killed. Inmates have been beaten. Law suits have been filed against the county. Inmates just ended a 10 day hunger strike. Smith went against state policy and let ICE have access to inmates. LaDoris Cordell, a highly respected retired judge and former police auditor has called for Smith to step down. Because of her incompetence the county had no choice but to establish an Office of Correction and Law Enforcement to monitor her actions. So now we have a sheriff making over two hundred thousand dollars a year having to be monitored to make sure she does her job. As crazy as it sounds, you can’t make this stuff up.

    Then there’s the infamous tape. A tape, recorded by investigators that implicated her in a case of sexual harassment. The tape was placed in the evidence locker. She went into the locker and took the tape. She admitted she took it. I guess she’s above the law because that’s theft of evidence of a possible criminal act. The tape is nowhere to be found and nobody in a position of authority has done anything about it. Why?

    Some of you have been bashing Gary Brady. Interesting. The guy gets sexually harassed by Laurie Smith, reports it, gets transferred because he didn’t want to play her game, the evidence (tape) gets removed from the evidence locker and some of you have the gall to come down on Gary?

    It took a lot of guts for Gary to come forward with what happened. I’ve known him for a very long time and can tell you, he’s a stand up guy who was a damn good officer. He worked hard and did a lot of good for a lot people. He knew he would catch a lot of flak for coming forward but he did it anyway. That’s called integrity. That’s called guts. That’s called standing up for what’s right.
    For those of you who refer to him in negative terms such as being a drunk, get a life. I would bet that not one of you have seen him drunk and I know not one of his accusers have ever been under the influence. Ha. Give us all a break and look into the mirror.

    What we have is an incompetent sheriff, who is accused of sexual harassment, who stole evidence relating to that from the sheriff’s evidence locker, who refused to be interviewed by the Mercury News re: the accusations, who abuses her power, who is mean, vengeful and for those of you who really know her, she’s downright evil. Yep, just what we need as the top law enforcement officer in the county.

    I think the primary question that needs to be answered is why, after the accusations of sexual harassment is she still running the department? Why hasn’t the Board of Supervisors asked her to step down? Why doesn’t the district attorney start an investigation? Why hasn’t the “Me Too” movement “moved” on Laurie Smith. From Hollywood to the State and Federal Legislature to the high tech community we have seen individuals accused of sexual harassment. Most have denied the charges but all of them have resigned, stepped down or been removed from a position of power. It’s time the sheriff took her retirement and left while the office still has a little credibility.


    • Sounds like office politics on steroids. Nothing that a tiny little pissant voter at the bottom of the food chain can understand or deal with.

      But there is this;

      > Smith went against state policy and let ICE have access to inmates.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *