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On the eve of an election to pick his successor, Santa Clara District Attorney George Kennedy removed a cloud hanging over the campaign of candidate Karyn Sinunu, Kennedy’s former chief assistant. Kennedy issued a statement on Thursday stating Sinunu has been cleared of allegations stemming from her decision not to prosecute a purportedly solid drug case in 1997. Kennedy sent a four-sentence e-mail to two Bay Area publications on Thursday afternoon: “Although the following pertains to a confidential personnel matter about which I have publicly said nothing, I make the following true statement to you because you have previously written about the subject,” he began. “An allegation was made in an anonymous flier that a narcotics case was corruptly buried in 1997. That allegation was thoroughly investigated by an independent investigator. That allegation was unfounded.” Initially a strong supporter of Sinunu’s campaign to succeed him, Kennedy withdrew his endorsement shortly before the June primary election and has remained neutral since then. Sinunu, who finished second in the primary, will face Superior Court Judge Dolores Carr on Nov. 6 in a run-off election. As the rumors and probe heated up in May, Kennedy said he would “never comment” on the case � a promise he lived up to on Thursday, refusing to make any formal comments beyond the e-mail. In mid-June, as the unspecified probe was under way, Sinunu announced she was taking a leave of absence from the DA’s office through the November election to concentrate on her campaign. Carr had been on leave nearly a year at that point. On Thursday, Sinunu insisted she was never the target of the DA’s investigation, which has always been her public stance. Still, Sinunu said she is pleased the rumors have been put to rest. “I want to get on to campaign about real issues and real innovations and real contributions,” Sinunu said between campaign stops Thursday.
Election 2006: Santa ClaraWhich of the four hard charging candidates will replace George Kennedy as DA? Read our complete coverage.

Asked whether she thinks Kennedy’s statement will affect her campaign, Sinunu said, “I guess we’ll measure that in November. My indicators are very positive, but we won’t know until the fat lady sings.” News broke in mid-May that in-house DA investigators were looking into a 1997 drug case Sinunu chose not to prosecute. Their interest was sparked by an anonymous “hit piece” circulated through the office, according to a lawyer in the office. Kennedy hired former Orange County DA Michael Capizzi to conduct an “inquiry into personnel matters” in the Santa Clara DA’s office. Investigators in Kennedy’s office had been questioning witnesses for several weeks about the case. Local attorneys � including retired Assistant DA Alvin Weger � told The Recorder in May that they’d been interviewed by Kennedy investigators about the 9-year-old drug case, which had been reviewed by Sinunu, then head of the office’s narcotics unit. Weger, who had been allowed to review the case file, said he saw no reason why it shouldn’t have been prosecuted. Narcotics officers had strong evidence, he said, but Sinunu had the case dismissed.

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