Phone Messages Raise Accusations of Dirty Tricks

Prosecutors have launched a grand jury probe into who was behind recorded phone messages they believe were aimed at undermining support for Steve Cooley during last year's campaign for L.A. district attorney, the LA Times reported.

The investigation has raised allegations that a dirty-tricks campaign  targeted the district attorney in the final days before he won a historic third  term, the Los Angeles Times reported. Prosecutors said the calls violated state election law by failing to  disclose who paid for the phone messages, The Times reported.

On the surface, the recorded messages appeared to come from Cooley's  campaign. They urged Republican voters to back the incumbent district attorney  and repeatedly mentioned that Cooley is a registered Republican.

But Cooley's campaign manager, John Thomas, said he knew nothing about  the calls until he heard complaints from registered Democrats who received the  messages and were angry that Cooley would make party politics an issue in a  race that is supposed to be nonpartisan, The Times reported.

Thomas said the calls were designed to hurt his client by emphasizing  that Cooley is a registered Republican in a county where registered Democrats  outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1.

"It was a dirty trick," Thomas told The Times. "It was a failed  attempt to distort the election."

Cooley has recused himself from the investigation, The Times reported. 

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