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Endeavour Capital-funded effort to overturn California bail reform law submits signatures, could delay implementation of law until November 2020

December 5, 2018

Private equity firm Endeavour Capital recently drew media attention after an affiliate, Triton Management Services LLC, contributed nearly $800,000 to an effort to overturn California’s recent landmark legislation to reform the state’s bail system.  Triton, which is majority-owned by Endeavour Capital Fund VI, was by far the largest contributor to the political committee opposing the California law intended to help the poor.

Media coverage:

LA Times, Nov 20, 2018: “Bail bond industry moves to block sweeping California law, submitting signatures for a 2020 ballot referendum”

Washington Post, Oct 29, 2018: “Private-equity money backs an effort to overturn California law intended to help the poor”

The new law has put California at the forefront of a national push to stop courts from imposing a heavy financial burden on defendants who have not been convicted of a crime.

On November 20, the California bail industry coalition opposing the law reportedly submitted 576,745 signatures, more than enough to qualify the referendum for the November 2020 ballot.

Endeavour Capital owns Aladdin Bail Bonds, one of the largest bail bond companies in California.

Elections officials must now verify those voter signatures; if enough of them are valid, the California bail reform law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in August will be suspended until the November 2020 election, allowing bail bond companies like Aladdin Bail Bonds to continue doing business in the State.

In late August, just days after California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bail reform legislation into law, Endeavour Capital affiliate Triton Management Services contributed $794,331 to the committee opposing the law, more than a quarter of total contributions the committee has received.

In October, the Washington Post reported that the Endeavour Capital-funded coalition had hired paid signature collectors and was spending $3.25 per signature.  At that rate, Endeavour Capital’s nearly $800,000 contribution would have paid for as many as 42% (244,410 of 576,745) of the signatures that the coalition submitted.

“Voter referendums are supposed to be about direct democracy — now wealthy people can simply write big checks,” California State Senator Robert Hertzberg, who sponsored the bail reform legislation, told the Washington Post in October. “The reality is that California is the biggest bail market and has the highest bail rates in the country. If these companies can delay it for a year, they can make money for a year,” Hertzberg added.

Rather than taking responsibility for its actions, Endeavour has sought to hide behind the portfolio company it controls.  John E. von Schlegell, Endeavour Capital co-founder and Aladdin Bail Bonds director, told the Washington Post, “The companies we invest in determine their own advocacy on issues…”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which in August asked Endeavour Capital to exit its investment in the bail bond industry, announced its opposition to the Endeavour Capital-funded referendum:  “Make no mistake, the bail industry is not interested in equal justice or equal protection under the law, they are seeking to turn back the clock to protect their bottom line,” said Abdi Soltani, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

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