Big Money in Small Town Politics

A Sworn Complaint alleging campaign violations in the last San Juan City Council election was filed recently with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) alleging that big money interests attempted to benefit financially by controlling who was elected to City Council.

The complaint, filed by Councilman Roy Byrnes and Kimberley McCarthy, describes how the following politicians, political consultants and related groups allegedly worked together to influence the outcome of the campaign in violation of the Fair Political Practices Act:

Roger Faubel of Faubel Public Affairs, former President/CEO of “OC Taxpayers Association”, which sponsors a Political Action Committee (“PAC”) named “OCTax PAC”. Faubel and OC Taxpayers Association benefit financially from a number of development-related projects in San Juan Capistrano;
  • OCTax PAC shares Faubel’s business address, and as an officer of OC Taxpayers, Faubel signed their most recent tax returns in 2010 and 2011; 
  •  OCTax PAC spent nearly $10,000 on mailers promoting Sam Allevato and Ginny Kerr for City Council; 
  •  OC Taxpayers, SDG+E and the Orange County Transportation Agency (OCTA) are all Faubel clients. SDG+E has a large SJC expansion project pending approval in San Juan, and the OCTA granted SJC substantial sums of taxpayer monies from Measure M (gasoline tax) funding for SJC projects 
  •  Jonathan Volzke former Capistrano Dispatch Editor, was hired by Faubel shortly after an article appeared in the Dispatch promoting the proposed SDG&E expansion project in San Juan. SDG+E became Volzke’s client when he was hired by Faubel. Volzke also wrote “Guest Columns” in the Dispatch promoting Allevato and Kerr, prior to the City Council election. 
  •  Another Faubel client is the Orange County Transportation Agency (“OCTA”) which reportedly awarded $108,000 of public monies to Faubel to do “community outreach” to San Juan businesses during the I-5 interchange construction. The award of the no-bid contract was criticized by Council members Roy Byrnes and Derek Reeve, who expressed concern about the appearance of impropriety, given Faubel’s and Volzke’s very public promotion of Sam Allevato during the campaign, and due to Faubel and Volzke’s very public efforts to defeat Byrnes and McCarthy. Allevato publicly supported the award of OCTA (taxpayer) funds to Faubel & Associates. 
  •  Lysa Ray Campaign Services has the OC Taxpayers Association as a client. During the election, Lysa Ray established a PAC called “Residents for Reform”. During the campaign, Residents for Reform sent out a mass email which included residents in San Juan featuring a re-print of an OC Register article. The headline was altered, falsely and libelously claiming, “State will investigate Burns (sic) and McCarthy for money laundering”. No such violation ever existed or was alleged to exist. 
  •  Lysa Ray’s PAC also paid for a “robo call” to San Juan voters on the eve of the election, featuring former Mayor Wyatt Hart (a former client of Ray’s) accusing Byrnes and McCarthy of being investigated for “illegal activities”. 
  •  Lysa Ray also employed “Delta Partners” in her clients’ campaign to oppose Roy Byrnes and Kim McCarthy. Delta Partners is a political consulting firm headed by David Ellis of Newport Beach who served on the Board of OC Taxpayers in 2007. 
It is not illegal to campaign for candidates, however it is illegal to behave as a PAC without registering as a PAC or identifying oneself as a PAC in public communications. It is also illegal for a news publication to promote a candidate or candidates while refusing equal access or time to their opponents. Byrnes and McCarthy allege that both of these laws were violated.

The Letter to the Editor listed below written by John Perry, reveals how campaign contributions are hidden from public view when benefiting a campaign, through a Political Action Committee or “PAC”. While individual candidates must report a direct contribution from a PAC, they do not have to report any money the PAC spends on campaign materials supporting them or attacking their opponents.

Perry’s letter was printed in the online Dispatch on October 31 and was removed a few days later, but not before a number of comments were posted criticizing Volzke’s “lobbying activities”.

“After my letter to the editor was published by the on-line Dispatch, Jonathan Volzke wrote a blistering response with all sorts of claims about my character. I started wondering why such a personal attack was necessary. Is there something more to the story that caused the reaction? So I did a little internet searching. Here’s what I found:     

    § Jonathan Volzke works for Faubel Public Affairs. 

    § Faubel Public Affairs has Poseidon Resources for a client. Poseidon Resources is seeking to build   
       the county’s first seawater desalination plant in Huntington Beach. 

   § Poseidon is also on the board of the Orange County Taxpayers Association.

   § The Orange County Taxpayers Association is also a client of Faubel Public Affairs

   § On December 4, 2012 Poseidon donates $25,000 to OCTaxPAC, sponsored by the OC Taxpayers 

   § On October 9, 2012 Poseidon donates another $5000 to OCTaxPAC.

   § On October 29, 2012 a mailer published by OCTaxPAC is received by voters in San Juan 
      Capistrano extolling the virtues of [Sam] Allevato and [Ginny] Kerr as “job producers” who 
      have caused the unemployment rate in San Juan Capistrano to drop by 25%. 

I admit to believing in the tooth fairy, but I find it hard not to believe that somehow Jonathan is steering out of town money into our little City Council race. It might be legal, but this kind of political sleight of hand cries out for a little sunshine. For every contribution there is a payback. I will be watching.”

To read the complaint, click:  FPPC Complaint


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. I've found it puzzling why an organization with the name of OC Taxpayers Association would support tax-and-spend policies as well as some anti-tax measures. The way I see it, you're either consistently anti-tax like Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, or you're not.

When you look at the connections, the picture becomes clearer. It seems to be more about the lining of certain pockets than about protecting taxpayers. Typical, especially these days, but good to know.

Anonymous said...

The OCTaxpayers has always been a shill for big developers. NO surprise here. OCTaxpayers was right out front promoting Measure M, which again was just a con-job to raise our taxes so developers could get roads for their developments on the taxpayer dime.

Anonymous said...

Faubel also provides cover foe SCE and their defective nuclear plant

Editorial Board said...

This CCS article was posted on the OC Political blog (see link below). The Editor there noted that a "veteran political source" told him that "Roger Faubel has never been the President/CEO of OC Taxpayers Association". I sent to the Editor the OC Taxpayers Assoc's 2010 tax return, which required the signature of an officer of the corporation. It was signed by Roger Faubel who listed his title as "CEO".

I also offered to send a copy of their 2011 tax return, which Faubel also signed as an officer.

You can see the post and comments here:

Anonymous said...

Bingo--Faubel caught again !!!!!

Anonymous said...

The more I read about Faubel and OC Taxpayers organization the more the picture comes in to focus: it looks like pay-to=play county politics. That Faubel has now inserted himself into our little town is concerning.

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