Instant replay - July 25, 1976

Freitas, supes challeged in vote scandal

July 25, 1976
San Francisco Chronicle - Larry Hatfield

San Francisco's voter fraud is not being adequately investigated because Dist. Atty. Joseph Freitas Jr. and a special supervisors committee are both too politically motivated to do so, a citizen committee charged here yesterday.

The Fair Election Review Committee, set up after last fall's elections resulted in charges of wide spread registration fraud, asked Atty. Gen. Evelle J. Younger to take over the investigation.

A Younger spokesman, however, denied a report from the committee that his office has started an investigation.

"We are not involved," said Depty. Atty. Gen. Bill Stein. "We have referred the matter to the local district attorney. That's normally the case. Unless there is a local inability to prosecute, we don't get involved."

Stein added, however, that his office was "looking into" a suggestion by the committee that Freitas might have a conflict of interest in investigating the election.

John Ritchie, a real estate man and chairman of the FERC, explained that "The committee feels very strongly that it is kind of an absurdity to have the district attorney investigating the election in which he was a winning candidate."

"What we're interested in in fair elections," Ritchie said. "We want to know why in the 1975 elections there were so many irregularities. . .Was it a fraudulent election? And if it was, who engineered it? Who encouraged large groups of people to register fraudulently?

Freitas has secured some two dozen criminal fraud indictments and pledges more, but Ritchie says that it is not enough.

"In our opinion, many questions, including those of conspiracy, voter intimidation, willful violation of the secrecy of the ballot, improper printing of the ballot, pecuniary considerations in the partisan registration of voters and quid pro quo in the form of appointments, have not yet been adequately investigated," the committee told Younger.

"The civil rights of the voters of San Francisco were violated and we don't think that should be ignored," he said.

The committee began its own investigation but ran out of money after spending about $30,000 he said.

"In February 1978 the DA's office told the registrar it was no longer necessary to retain 1975 election files. They were subsequently destroyed."

Source: "People's Temple and the DA's Office" - San Francisco Exaniner 1-21-79

Note: What Ritchie and FERC did not know at the time of this interview was that Freitas had been elected with the active help of Jim Jones and the People's Temple. Later, members would confess to being engaged in a program to swing the election with illegal votes.

Freitas, the District Attorney, who along with Willie Brown and George Moscone was voted into office through this fraudulent election, appointed Tim Stoen, an officer in Jim Jones' "church" to run the election fraud investigation. Dozens of people were charged with individual actions of voting fraud, but the primary culprits behind the fraud were never investigated or charged.

Freitas claimed to reporter Warren Hinckle that he'd never heard of the People's Temple until after the election and that he picked Tim Stoen's resume out of the mail when he appointed him to head the voter fraud unit. Willie Brown was quoted at the time of the election that neither Moscone nor Freitas could have been elected without Jones' support. After the election, Brown used his influence to have Moscone appoint Jim Jones to head the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.


  • Followers Say Jim Jones Directed Voting Fraud
    New York Times, December 17, 1978

  • Now Temple charged with voter fraud
    AP, December 17, 1978

  • State Attorney General Tells of Probe in S.F. Vote
    The San Francisco Chronicle, December 22, 1978

    ". . .(a) federal investigation has developed information that (assistant district attorney) Stoen misused his position to obstruct pending investigations that might have adversely impacted on the Peoples Temple of which he was then a member." - California State Attorney General Evelle Younger in a letter to San Francisco District Attorney Joseph Freitas informing him that his office was under investigation.

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