Parsons weighs in on Carona’s latest problems

“We all know the GOP would have a field day if Carona were a Democrat”

Dana Parsons, the Times columnist, took a look at OC Sheriff Mike Carona’s latest problems – stemming from the pictures published in the OC Weekly this week depicting “America’s Top Cop” in the ardent embrace of a mafioso from the Las Vegas area. Rather than try to summarize Parsons’ take, I am enclosing it below:

Carona’s Party Isn’t Just the GOP

April 30, 2006

One of Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona’s election opponents suggests in so many words that the sheriff has hit rock bottom and should resign.

Ralph Martin called for the resignation after a photo in the alternative press OC Weekly showed a Las Vegas strip club owner with his arm around the sheriff. A Nevada grand jury in 2005 characterized the strip club as a racketeering enterprise and indicted a shift manager but not the owner.

Martin may think the sheriff has lost it, but it looks to me as if Carona is having the time of his life as the county’s top cop. Controversy follows controversy and allegation follows allegation, but he keeps on smiling. He’s been accused of personal indiscretions and managerial shortcomings, and look what it’s gotten him: an endorsement from the county’s GOP Central Committee.

In another magical moment (and my personal favorite), a photo surfaced earlier of Carona next to a young woman wearing what apparently was his uniform jacket. She was identified as the Russian translator on his 2002 trip to Moscow. That photo also appeared in the Weekly, which seems to have become Carona’s unofficial photo album site.

Young Russian translator wearing his clothing. A photo op with a strip club owner. In defending Carona a few months ago against naysayers in general, a former state GOP official said, “Mike is a very, very popular guy.”

Do tell.

I don’t want to come off as prudish, but duty required that I ask the county GOP whether the cumulative negative press about the sheriff had given it pause.

“The stories that have run have caused some concern by some members,” says party chairman Scott Baugh, “but the prevailing sentiment is that the sheriff has done a great job and much of what is out there is the product of people who are disgruntled by situations that have occurred in the past.”

He was referring primarily to George Jaramillo, Carona’s former right-hand man who now faces criminal charges relating to his dealings with a private company while assistant sheriff. It is thought that Jaramillo is fueling the anti-Carona faction. In addition, two women involved in allegations of sexual impropriety by the sheriff are related to Jaramillo.

We all know the GOP would have a field day if Carona were a Democrat, but Baugh notes, properly, that nothing has been proved against Carona. The GOP central committee isn’t an investigative arm, he says, adding: “So, we’re letting these things play themselves out. More often than not, it’s much ado about nothing.

“To his credit, Baugh wasn’t the least defensive in discussing Carona. If members thought the worst things said about Carona were true, he says, the sheriff probably wouldn’t get the endorsement.

“We support incumbent Republicans, as a general rule,” Baugh says. “That’s what we’re doing. That’s not to say there wasn’t some controversy and debate [before endorsing Carona]

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