The Kern Co. District Attorney's Office says allegations made in the contentious Ward 5 Bakersfield City Council race are unfounded, officials said Tuesday.
DA Lisa Green said a review into allegations of voter fraud, tax fraud, and perjury showed no evidence to take legal action.
Candidate Ryan Nance accused opponent Bruce Freeman of living in Newport Beach, not Bakersfield, and not being registered to vote in Kern County until just before Freeman filed for Ward 5 candidacy.
"We have concluded that, based on the facts and the law, Mr. Freeman has not violated any laws relevant to the accusations," Green said in a press release. "In addition, although Mr. Nance's referral merited review, we do not have a legal basis on which to conduct any further inquiry."
The DA's Office told 23ABC News on March 7 that the office wasn't looking into the allegations, but at some point officials decided to review them.
Freeman issued a statement following the DA's Office announcement, saying in part, "as expected charges made by my opponent were without merit" (see full statement below).
Nance issued a statement as well, saying in part: "This finding only invites more questions about Mr. Freeman's residency status" (see full statement below).
Freeman, Nance, and Noel Pineo are the three certified candidates facing off in the June 6 special election to replace the late Jeff Tkac.
"Today, the Kern County District Attorney’s Office announced that it has dismissed charges made against Bruce Freeman made by his opponent Ryan Nance. Freeman stated 'as expected charges made by my opponent were without merit.'”
"I commend the District Attorney for looking into this issue. The District Attorney
correctly points out that a person can vote where he lives, and that the right to vote
depends on the the voter’s “intent.” The D.A.’s press release makes it clear that they do
not see enough evidence that Bruce Freeman “intended” to live in Bakersfield to
conclude that he committed voter fraud. Freeman simply lied to voters when he said he
always lived in Bakersfield. The reality is, as the D.A’s investigation points out, Freeman
lived and voted in Newport Beach for two years before deciding to carpetbag back to
Bakersfield to take advantage of the tragedy in Ward 5.
If the D.A.’s office, after a full investigation, cannot confirm that Bruce Freeman lived in
Bakersfield, why would he expect anyone to elect him to the Bakersfield City Council?
This finding only invites more questions about Mr. Freeman’s residency status. Did Bruce
Freeman tell the district attorney that he lived in Newport Beach or not? Did Bruce
Freeman lie to the voters when he claimed he lived in Bakersfield when he was voting in
Newport? The voters deserve to know the answers. Bakersfield needs a city councilman
from Bakersfield, not from Newport Beach."