Supporters of Ventura County Supervisor Edwin A. Jones, who will stand trial next month on charges of misdemeanor indecent exposure and lewd conduct, have begun a mail campaign to raise money for his defense.
Jones, 54, who represents Thousand Oaks and much of the southern portion of the county, was arrested in mid-June in a Studio City motel after a witness said she saw Jones standing naked outside a motel room, beckoning to her.
The Los Angeles city attorney's office on June 20 filed one count each of indecent exposure and lewd conduct against the supervisor. Each count carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Jones pleaded innocent to both charges on Aug. 13. His trial date is set for Sept. 17 in San Fernando Municipal Court.
The simple typewritten letter mailed this week asks recipients to contribute to the Ed Jones Legal Fund to help defray the supervisor's legal costs.
'Responsive and Caring'
"Regardless of how you feel about the pending case, we believe that Ed Jones has served our community well," the letter stated. "Ed has been responsive and caring. He has helped us repeatedly over these past 15 years. It is our turn to help him."
The letter was signed by five people, whom Jones identified as his political supporters and friends. Two of the signers were David Irwin and Chuck Cohen, who served with Jones when all three were members of the Thousand Oaks City Council.
Irwin, who launched the campaign, is a former campaign manager for Jones and is also his stockbroker, the supervisor said. Tony Lamb, a prominent senior citizen activist, and Ginny Connell, appointed to the county Commission for Women by Jones in 1981, also signed the letter. The fifth signer was Pat Manning of Oak Park.
"I don't know anything about what actually happened that day," Connell said. "I think everyone deserves a chance to defend himself."
Connell, the only signer who could be contacted Wednesday, said she did not know how many letters were mailed, or who was selected to receive them.
Jones, in a telephone interview, said his supporters' efforts are "very kind. . . . Based on my income, these are costs that could keep me in debt for several years."
Ventura County supervisors earn $31,270 a year. They also are given a choice of the use of a county car or a $300-a-month car allowance, and are given a $374 monthly medical expense allowance, according to the county chief administrator's office.
Charles English, Jones' attorney, would not be specific about his client's potential legal costs, but said they would be "in excess of $10,000."
In the motel room incident, Jones was sprayed with tear gas by police officers when he allegedly made a gesture "of a threatening nature" toward the officers, who were questioning him and a woman, said Ted Goldstein, press deputy for the city attorney's office. Jones has denied making any hostile moves toward police.
Jones has acknowledged a previous charge of indecent exposure filed against him in 1962. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disturbing the peace.
In the wake of his latest legal troubles, Jones has relinquished the chairmanship of the Board of Supervisors. He was suspended from teaching political science courses at Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys pending the outcome of the case.