Leader of Baca Recall Petition Resigns

The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 28, 2007; 12:10 PM

LOS ANGELES -- A former county employee leading an effort to recall Sheriff Lee Baca based on his handling of Paris Hilton's jail sentence has resigned.

A statement Monday from The Committee to Recall Lee Baca said Andrew Ahlering's decision to step down was based on "threats to his safety."

The initiative had gained scant support since it was launched more than two months ago.

Ahlering had gathered just 40 of the nearly 400,000 signatures needed by December to get a recall measure on the ballot, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Ahlering, who accused Baca of giving Hilton preferential treatment by allowing her to return home after serving less than four days of a 23-day jail sentence earlier this summer, also said he had raised less than $100 for the campaign.

The petition accuses Baca of giving favorable treatment to celebrities and of "gross mismanagement of the largest jail system in the United States."

A Baca spokesman said Ahlering's difficulty generating enthusiasm for the campaign is evidence that the sheriff has the public's support.

"The sheriff has said when the hysteria dies down about the Hilton incarceration people will come to see he made the right decision, and his interest is in the safety of the people of Los Angeles County," sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

Hilton reported to jail in June for a probation violation after pleading no contest to alcohol-related reckless driving. Baca released the 26-year-old hotel heiress-socalite after only three days for medical reasons. She was sent back to jail after one night.

© 2007 The Associated Press