- Was elected DA of Bexar County, Texas in 2018
- His DA campaign received enormous financial support from George Soros.
- Calls for the reduction or elimination of cash bail
- Advocates rehabilitation rather than incarceration for many nonviolent & drug-related offenses
Joe Gonzales is a third-generation Mexican American who was born in San Antonio, Texas and was raised, along with his five siblings, by his single mother. He graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio with a B.A. in Political Science in 1981, and later earned a Juris Doctor degree from the St. Mary’s School of Law in 1988.
After obtaining his J.D., Gonzales began his professional legal career by practicing family law for about a year. He then worked at Texas’ Bexar County District Attorney’s Office as a trial prosecutor from 1990-1992. When his wife entered law school in Houston in 1992, Gonzales served as an Assistant Criminal District Attorney for Harris County. He then returned to the Bexar County DA office as an Assistant District Attorney from 1995-1998. In 1998, Gonzales established his own law firm where he went on to practice for more than 20 years as a criminal defense attorney. He also spent seven years as a Magistrate and Municipal Judge for San Antonio.
In March 2018, Gonzales won the Democratic Party primary for Bexar County District Attorney, earning 59% of the vote to defeat incumbent Democrat DA Nico LaHood. The leftwing multibillionaire George Soros contributed $958,000 to Gonzales’ campaign through a Super PAC known as Texas Justice & Public Safety, which had been founded in 2017 by Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King — along with fellow leftists like Becky Bond, Zack Malitz, and Michael Kieschnick — to promote prosecutors or district attorneys who would seek to eliminate the cash bail system, greatly restrict what police officers are permitted to do in the course of their work, and decriminalize offenses related to drug possession, property destruction, theft, and resisting arrest. Influence Watch.com identifies TJPS as “the Texas branch of the vast ‘Safety and Justice’ network, a project of … George Soros that used a network of similarly named state-level PACs to finance the campaigns of progressive Democratic candidates for district attorney in more than a dozen of America’s cities.” In 2018, TJPS churned out a raging river of attack ads – in both English and Spanish — portraying LaHood as a as “racist,” “bigoted,” and “Islamophobic.” Of the aforementioned $958,000, fully $897,000 was spent during in the final 30 days before the primary election. LaHood described these ads as “$1 million worth of lies.”
Gonzales’ “criminal justice reform” campaign was based upon an official platform that included, among others, the following planks, as articulated by his campaign website:
- Bail Reform: “Currently, in Bexar County there is an overwhelming number of inmates awaiting trial in county jail because they cannot afford to post bond. Joe believes that this is a waste of county resources, and that it criminalizes Bexar County’s poorest residents. People who are presumed innocent should never have to sit in jail awaiting trial simply because they are too poor to post bond…Joe will also fight for prosecutors and judges to reach agreements on reasonable bail for low level offenders…. As it stands, most innocent defendants who cannot afford bond have two choices: stay in jail and fight their case in trial, or take a guilty plea that gets them out of jail. This is unacceptable…”
- Rehabilitative Approach to Non-Violent Crime: “By now, it has become clear that sending people to prison because of addiction or mental illness is not the best approach…. For most non-violent offenders [we need] a District Attorney office culture that is centered on treating and rehabilitating those suffering from addiction and mental illness.”
- Enhanced Training of County Prosecutors: “Currently, prosecutors are not trained to understand the effects of incarceration or rehabilitative programs. They are also not trained to … understand the role that implicit and unconscious bias play in creating unequal treatment of victims and defendants based on race and economic status.”
In the November 2018 general election for Bexar County DA, Gonzales garnered 58.5% of the vote to defeat his Republican challenger, Tylden Shaeffer, with ease.
Just prior to the start of the August 2019 trial of Ernesto Esquivel-Garcia — an illegal alien who would ultimately be convicted of the first-degree murder of a 20-year-old Hispanic-American citizen whom he had strangled, stabbed, and set on fire in San Antonio in June 2018 – Garcia’s legal team filed a motion to exclude any “reference to, or insinuation concerning the status or nature” of, his “immigration or citizenship status.” Such information, they argued, might, because of its “highly prejudicial content,” have a “harmful effect” on the defendant’s prospects for acquittal. Even though Esquivel-Garcia already had a criminal record prior to his commission of the June 2018 murder, Gonzales’ DA office agreed to comply with the defense team’s request.
In September 2020, Gonzales recused himself from a case involving 29-year-old Jourdyn Parks, a local Black Lives Matter activist who was charged with having temporarily abandoned her two young children, ages 2 and 8, in their home amid “deplorable conditions” while she attended BLM rallies. Gonzales explained that because he and his office had previously worked with Parks and other BLM activists on numerous occasions, a recusal was in order so as to “avoid the appearance of any conflict” of interest. Parks was also the founder of Reliable Revolutionaries, a local activist organization that advocated for defunding the police.
In October 2020, Gonzales issued a statement expressing his concerns about “possible election interference” by Trump Administration officials. He claimed, without evidence, that such officials were intending to “violate Texas election laws in an attempt to disenfranchise Texas voters” by instructing the U.S. Postal Service to delay the delivery of mail, including mail-in ballots, until after the Election Day deadline in order to prevent them from being properly counted.
In March 2021, Gonzales denounced Texas Senate Bill 21, which was designed to keep previously accused or convicted criminal defendants in jail before trial unless they were able to post cash bonds. The bill had been introduced by Texas State Senator Joan Huffman, a Republican, who aimed to “address the appalling uptick in violent crimes by defendants out on multiple personal bonds” which did not require cash bail payments up front. In an official press release, Gonzales complained that Senate Bill 21 would “most greatly impact poor defendants” who were “not a danger to the community” but would nevertheless “languish in jail while people with access to monetary resources will get out regardless of community safety.”
During Gonzales’ first three years in office, the city of San Antonio saw a 52% increase in homicides – from 105 in 2019, to 130 in 2020, to 160 in 2021.
- require registrars who receive notice that a particular voter has moved, to forward that notice to the registrar of the voter’s new county of residence;
- require the Texas Secretary of State to use Department of Motor Vehicles records and jury-duty records to “verify the accuracy of citizenship status information previously provided on voter registration applications”;
- require all county registrars to purge their respective voter rolls of the names of any aliens who are illegally registered to vote;
- bar local election officials who review early ballots or verify signatures on absentee ballots “from retaining or sharing personally identifiable information [on voters] from the statewide computerized voter registration list … for any reason unrelated to” their official duties;
- require large counties to implement an internal video-surveillance system of all areas where voted ballots are handled, processed, and counted;
- forbid election officials from removing any observers unless the latter are interfering in the voting process;
- provide voters with an opportunity to correct defects in their absentee ballots; and
- extend the state’s in-person voter ID law, which had been in place for years and had been approved by the courts as nondiscriminatory, to absentee ballots as well.
Said Gonzales regarding Senate Bill 1 and similar Republican legislative proposals in other states: “I believe those bills have nothing to do with secure elections, they’re more about suppressing the votes to those people who have a difficult time getting to the polls — our elderly….people of color, and people with disabilities…. [W]e all need to rally behind fighting these bills.”
In December 2021, Gonzales announced his intent to run for re-election in 2022. Disparaging his potential Republican challenger, Meredith Chacon, for “talking about the old way of thinking of just being tough-on-crime,” Gonzales said: “I would hate to see everything we’ve done be undone by removing all the reforms we’ve had huge success with.”