LA County sheriff cuts ties with health company
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is distancing himself from a health products company whose products he promoted in online videos.
Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Baca contacted the Irvine-based company Yor Health earlier this week to tell them he'll no longer publicly promote their product and asked them to remove the videos from their website.
"He was enthusiastic about the product and that enthusiasm, he now realizes, may have extended to what appears to be an endorsement and promotion of the company," Whitmore said. "And that is not what he intended."
A KABC-TV report (http://bit.ly/1fEWqpi) found that Baca has spoken at the company's annual conferences since 2010. In a 3 1/2-minute YouTube video, Baca is seen running and then guzzling one of its drinks.
The video opens with Baca announcing: "Hi, I'm Lee Baca and I'm the Sheriff of Los Angeles County and I'm going to live to be 100 years old and beyond!"
Yor Health donated $1,000 to Baca's election campaign in 2010 and reimbursed him for travel expenses from a speaking engagement at its annual conference in Las Vegas in 2012. The company has also been hit with multiple complaints to the Federal Trade Commission that Yor Health is a pyramid scheme.
Whitmore said Baca "doesn't know who contributes to his campaign. He never sees those checks. He never handles them. It all goes through the attorneys and directly into his campaign account."
The company didn't respond to a request for comment.
With nearly 16 years in office, Baca is facing his toughest re-election bid yet in 2014 after recent allegations of abuse and corruption in the jails led to an FBI probe and the resignation of Undersheriff Paul Tanaka — now also a challenger in that race.
A Los Angeles Times editorial on Wednesday was entitled "Baca's bad choice" and chided the sheriff for embarrassing himself and his office by promoting Yor Health's products.
"We understand the criticism, which is one of the reasons why he rethought his position," Baca's spokesman Whitmore said. "He believes in the product, he didn't really think about the company."
Whitmore said Baca will continue to use Yor Health's products personally.