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Allegations that the San Francisco district attorney’s chief investigator has behaved inappropriately toward female employees are roiling Terence Hallinan’s re-election campaign just as a new poll indicates he is falling behind one of his rivals. Hallinan’s campaign says the allegations are being dealt with appropriately and have been blown out of proportion by the politics of the DA race. His opponents say the most recent complaint — which closely follows the revelation of investigations into the conduct of two other members of his staff — underscores his poor leadership of the office. But at least one local political observer speculates voters won’t hold the incidents against the incumbent when he faces re-election in less than two weeks. “I think [the allegations] are too removed and too indirect to really have any direct translation into votes,” said Peter Keane, dean of Golden Gate University School of Law and former No. 2 in the public defender’s office. The election of a DA in San Francisco is still a horse race. Local pollster David Binder’s recent poll indicates about a third of voters was still undecided as of Oct. 14. While some earlier polls put Hallinan in the lead, Binder has Bill Fazio in the lead with 26 percent, followed by Hallinan with 23 percent and Kamala Harris with 16 percent. The three points between Hallinan and Fazio fall within a 5-point margin of error. Four hundred likely voters were surveyed from Oct. 12-14 on a variety of topics, including the DA’s race, Binder said. Though Binder has done polls for Harris this year, John Whitehurst, a principal at Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter & Partners, said his political consulting firm paid for the most recent poll, but not on behalf of any particular client. On Friday, the DA’s office began “reviewing” three female employees’ allegations that Chief Investigator Daniel Addario made insensitive comments and gestures, DA spokesman Mark MacNamara said. The women, all subordinates of Addario’s, “felt he was behaving inappropriately, but didn’t want to make a formal complaint,” MacNamara said. Hallinan named Addario, formerly San Francisco’s top Drug Enforcement Administration agent, to the chief investigator’s post the day he took office as DA in 1996. Addario, who ran for supervisor in 1990, began his career as a Philadelphia police officer and also worked for the DEA in Detroit, Washington, D.C., Thailand and South America. Addario could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He was asked to take vacation time while the office looks into the matter, MacNamara said. The Addario allegations surfaced less than two weeks after a Sacramento County prosecutor’s accusations against one of Hallinan’s assistant DAs made headlines. Assistant DA John Carbone Jr. was put on involuntary unpaid leave after Sacramento County Deputy DA Susan Wilson claimed Carbone tried to sexually assault her in March at an insurance fraud seminar in Orange County. Following the San Francisco city attorney’s office denial of her claim Thursday, Wilson’s attorney said he plans to proceed with a lawsuit. MacNamara said he anticipates Carbone will remain on unpaid leave until the suit is resolved. On Monday, the DA’s office forwarded to the attorney general’s office an investigation into whether DA investigator Tony Saab improperly used his authority to speed a friend’s release from jail after a DUI arrest in September. DA spokesman MacNamara said Hallinan’s personnel issues aren’t unique. “Every organization with 250 people is going to have instances where people have problems with other people they work with, or they are going to act in some way that draws criticism.” “Clearly this is the sort of thing brought up in campaigns when you’re trying to besmirch an officeholder,” said Hallinan campaign strategist Bob Henderson. Jim Stearns, campaign manager for Harris, a deputy city attorney, says the allegations against members of the DA’s staff are a key theme of the race. “We think there is a pattern of disruptive and chaotic activity that all stems from the core leadership of Terence Hallinan,” Stearns said. “And that is what this campaign is about.” Fazio, a defense attorney making his third run for DA, says the office wouldn’t be having such personnel problems under his watch. “If there were problems such as this, I would correct them before they even got out.” In his last two campaigns, Hallinan’s critics have brought up allegations of sexual harassment he faced in 1993, when he was a member of the Board of Supervisors. His former legislative assistant, Susan “Sukey” Schwartz, alleged that she was sexually harassed by Hallinan in City Hall and during a business trip to Nicaragua in 1991; Hallinan and the city settled the suit. Keane says that suit is old news. “That came up in both campaigns and it didn’t seem to have legs then,” Keane said, pointing out that four more years have passed. “It might get a little bit of attention because of the other two matters relating to Carbone and Addario, but I doubt that it will have more effect in terms of how the votes go.” At a debate before students at Hastings College of the Law on Tuesday, the candidates gave more refined versions of their platforms than they had presented in earlier debates. Though his opponents have attacked Hallinan’s handling of domestic violence cases, he claimed the unit has gone from two prosecutors and an 18 percent conviction rate to 12 prosecutors and an 83 percent conviction rate under his watch.

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