Mike Ramos

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos (Photographer: John Valenzuela, Los Angeles News Group)

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 03/26/14, 12:27 PM PDT | Updated: 8 hrs ago

SAN BERNARDINO >> San Bernardino County District Attorney candidate Grover Merritt has challenged incumbent District Attorney Michael A. Ramos to three public debates to be sponsored by the county’s three regional state bar associations.

“The citizens of San Bernardino County deserve a District Attorney who is open, accessible and engaged. We are not getting that from Mr. Ramos,” Merritt said in a news release Wednesday. “These debates will give Ramos an opportunity to stop hiding behind his Orange County political consultant and start answering questions about his record in an open public forum.”

The Orange County political consultant which Merritt refers to is David Ellis, Ramos’ longtime political consultant.

Ellis said in a statement Wednesday that Merritt continues “drowning in ethical quicksand” and that his acceptance of campaign contributions from the brother and business partner of a defendant in the high profile Colonies corruption case has raised ethical questions.

The contributions Ellis cites are from Phillip Burum, brother of Rancho Cucamonga developer and Colonies defendant Jeff Burum, who on March 19 gave $1,000 to Merritt’s campaign, and a $4,000 contribution from Upland Realty Equities V, Inc., a bar owned by Burum’s business partner Mark Davidson.

Burum and Davidson own the Second Avenue Saloon in Upland.

Ramos welcomes the opportunity to debate Merritt, said Ellis, but Ramos must first determine if such a debate would compromise the integrity of the Colonies case given the monetary contributions Merritt has received from Burum’s friends and supporters.

“Ramos’ Public Integrity Unit and partner in the prosecution, the Attorney General’s office, will be consulted,” Ellis said. “Mike will never jeopardize the integrity of any pending case, or the D.A.’s office for a political stunt.”

Merritt said he sees nothing wrong with accepting the contributions, who he said are from taxpaying citizens not charged in any criminal case.

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