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Anaheim Insider here (again).

A friend forward to me this e-mail from the Tom Tait campaign to OC GOP Central Committee members, who are voting tonight (possibly right now) on whether to give Tait an early endorsement:

Subject: Union Money invades Anaheim

Dear Central Committee Member,​

Tonight, our Local Elected Official of the Year, Mayor Tom Tait, will be rightfully seeking the endorsement of the Republican Party of Orange County for his reelection this November.  One or two supporters of Anaheim City Council Members Lucile Kring, Kris Murray, and Gail Eastman, may try to pull his name from the consent list for separate consideration.  

Two of these Council Member​s, Murray and Eastman, are up for reelection in November as well.  Council Member Kring, is in a safe seat yet has decided to run against Mayor Tom Tait in spite of his strong Republican credentials and stellar job performance.   Why?  

The attachment speaks volumes for itself.  Union money is pouring into the coffers of all Anaheim Elected Officials on the City Council except one – Mayor Tom Tait. 

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On March 22, the left-wing coalition backing single-member council districts in Anaheim kicked off its campaign to win their approval by Anaheim voters this November. 501(c)(3) groups like OCCORD can actively advocate for a ballot measure within limits on “lobbying” activity. Per the BolderAdvocacy website (published by the left-wing Alliance for Justice):

Under Section 501(h), the overall limit on lobbying starts as high as 20% of those expenditures for small charities and diminishes to a smaller percentage of the expenditures for larger organizations, with a maximum cap of $1,000,000 on an organization’s annual lobbying expenditures. In addition to this overall limit, the 501(h) test imposes a limit on grassroots lobbying, calculated as one-quarter of the overall lobbying limit. For example, a 501(c)(3) that has made the 501(h) election, with an annual budget of $500,000, would have an overall lobbying limit of $100,000 and a grassroots lobbying limit of $25,000.

OCCORD’s annual budget has historically been somewhat over half-a-million dollars, so the above is a solid guide to how much of its budget the left-wing advocacy group can devote to this ballot measure.

Convincing Anaheim voters to re-structure how they elect their city council will take a considerable amount of persuasive voter communication – especially since there is no grass-roots groundswell demanding single-member council districts.  In other words, the pro-council districts coalition needs a benefactor(s) to bankroll its campaign.

Who will do it?

One possibility would be the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), which definitely has the resources and presumably the interest in replacing at-large council elections with a single-member districts system.

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A year ago, I published a post advocating the Anaheim City Council adopt something similar to Costa Mesa’s COIN (Civic Openness in Negotiations Ordinance) ordinance.  Tomorrow night, the Fullerton City Council will begin discussing whether or not to adopt its own version of COIN.

This is a discussion the Anaheim City Council should consider having, as well.

The staff report for the Fullerton council provides a good run-down of what Costa Mesa’s COIN ordinance entails:

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Anaheim Insider here.

KABC-AM conservative talk radio show host John Phillips blasted the Voice of OC this morning for its role in the smear campaign against Carl Demaio, the libertarian gay Republican running for Congress in San Diego.

Phillips was spurred by this post on the FlashReport for Republican activist and consultant Charles Moran, who also asked the question of why KOCE, the Southern California PBS affiliate, has allowed its news coverage to be co-opted by the Voice, which is dependent on the Orange County Employees Association funding for its existence:

To those of us active in Republican politics, we have seen many attacks, some even as hateful as these. But what was really surprising about this smear campaign was the fact that is was strangely connected to PBS. Yes, you read correctly – the same folks that bring us Sesame Street. According to a PBS affiliate’s website in Orange County (PBS SoCal), PBS entered into a “partnership” with the Voice of OC whereby PBS would receive its “investigative news” from the Voice of OC.

At this point, it is important to note that the Voice of OC is not a newspaper nor is it a magazine. The fact is that that the Voice of OC is merely website whereby they describe themselves as a “Non-Profit Investigative News Agency.”

So just who is this so-called investigative news agency that was PBS partners with for their news coverage, and more importantly who funds them? Well to find the answer, one only needs to review their federal tax returns – and so I did.

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One of the arguments made by single-member council district proponents is that Anaheim is so big that the cost of communicating with so many voters prices potential candidates out of the running – especially Latinos – and allows special interests to dominate the elections. Carving the city into single-member council districts, the argument goes, diminishes the significance of campaign warchests by making it easier for a candidate to win in this smaller voter universe by walking precincts.

There is no denying that an ample campaign warchest is preferable to a small one, and that running a robust campaign mailer effort in Anaheim isn’t cheap. However, that isn’t the decisive factor, and the candidate who spends the most money isn’t necessarily the one who wins.

Another mantra of the single-member district cult is “only three Latinos have been elected to the Anaheim City Council in 156 years.” The intellectual dishonesty of that claim aside, it’s illuminating that when one of the those Latinos, Lou Lopez, was first elected, he came in first even while being vastly outspent by the candidate who finished second, Bob Zemel. From a February 10, 1995 Los Angeles Times article:

The cost of being elected to the City Council was dramatically different for Bob Zemel and Lou Lopez.

Zemel, who had placed third in the two previous elections, spent more than $108,000 for last November’s win. Lopez spent $34,000, according to financial disclosure records reviewed this week.

“All the power-brokers said I couldn’t do it my way,” Lopez said Thursday. “People can’t believe I won on that kind of money. I was told I would need a minimum of $60,000 to get elected in Anaheim. But I’ve been involved in politics for 15 years, won three elections and have knocked on a lot of doors. I didn’t just come out of the woodwork.”

Other top-spenders included: Paul Bostwick, who finished in fourth place after spending more than $80,800, about half of which was his own money; fifth-place finisher Sharon Ericson, who spent about $55,300, and seventh-place finisher Leonard Lahtinen, who reported expenditures of more than $47,800, of which $29,000 was his own money.

Candidate Shirley McCracken, running for a council seat for the first time, managed to finish third while spending only $20,500.

In other words, the first and third highest vote getters – Lopez and McCracken — were the candidates with the poorest campaigns in terms of spending.

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John Leos' biggest fan.

John Leos’ biggest fan.

Anaheim Insider here.Voice of OC logo

It’s no secret the Voice of OC got its start with very generous funding from the Orange County Employees Association. What many of us didn’t know was how dependent the Voice of OC still is on OCEA funding, which is in turn funded by government employee dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.

According to this press release from Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s state Senate campaign, the Voice gets 63% of its funding from the county employees union.

Sixty. Three. Percent.

Here’s the breakdown from the press release:

TOTAL FUNDS RECEIVED (report from latest 2 year period) : $797,040

Orange County Employees Association
$499,500     63%

California Endowment                                                                          
$121,012     15%

Wylie Aitken (Former Chair Democratic Foundation of OC)    
$85,000     10%

United Food & Commercial Workers                                                
$25,000     3%

Former Democratic Senator Joe Dunn                                            
$14,635   2%

*Major Democrat Donors:                                                                  
 $30,000   4%

Unnamed small donors                                                                        
$21,956    3%

*(donors to: Act Blue, DCCC, Barbara Boxer, Beth Krom for Congress, Alan Lowenthal for Congress, Loretta Sanchez for Congress).

The Voice is totally dependent on the OCEA to meet payroll, pay its rent, fund benefits, and other expenses. When you think about that, the Voice’s outrage campaign against Freedom Communications deal with Anaheim to broker naming rights for ARTIC is comical. How does the Voice question the ability of a Freedom Communications subsidiary (the OC Register) to cover Anaheim government impartially, when it is reporting on county and city governments whose employees are represented by the funding source that keeps the Voice of OC’s lights on? We’re expected to believe Freedom’s deal comprises the OC Register’s Anaheim coverage, but the Voice’s dependence on OCEA has no effect on its coverage?

Think about it another way. At the same time that it was spending $600,000 last year trying to elect John Leos to the Anaheim City Council, we now know the OCEA was also giving hundreds of thousands to the Voice of OC; and the Voice was reporting obsessively about Disney’s spending on behalf of candidates opposed by OCEA, while giving much less attention to OCEA’s campaign activity.

All of which goes to the point of Nguyen’s press release:

Unfortunately, Janet’s efforts to reform CalOptima and outreach to the community have been mischaracterized by the Voice of OC  blog whose only interest is to further their own political agenda through an organized smear campaign.

Some have asked why this Blog has taken such an interest in a smear campaign against Janet Nguyen?

The answer should be obvious. Just follow the money. A check of the Voice of OC’s most recent IRS filings shows that nearly all of their funds come from labor unions and Democrat donors. A full 63% comes from a single public employee union – OCEA.  The remainder from Democrat/liberal donors or groups. These entities all have a huge stake in making sure State Senate Dems keep their 2/3rds super majority.

AMEA Negotiations Coming Up; Watch Voice Of OC Reporting On Anaheim
The Anaheim Municipal Employees Association is an affiliate of the OCEA. It’s contract negotiations begin later this month, and its current contract expires January 3.

The Voice has already hit Lucille Kring with a below the belt piece accusing her of trading votes for campaign contributions (without any evidence). Will we see a continuation of past pattern of targeting City Hall in hopes of freezing and demoralizing it during negotiations. I hope not. But keep an eye on the kind of stories the Voice writes about Anaheim in the coming months.

My frend Chris Emami at OC Political has posted about an Anaheim Campaign Database project he is launching. It is a worthy endeavor, and the information about council candidates is useful. I do have some suggestions for making it more complete.

The profiles of the candidates’ campaign finances don’t include how much of their own mony they donated to their campaigns. Brian Chuchua, for example, pumped about $60,000 (if memory serves) from his own pocket (and the pocket of a family member). Not that it did him any good, but it does belong in any pie chart or profile of his campaign finances.

Also, independent expenditures aren’t included. The post includes this illustrative pie chart about John Leos’ campaign contributions:


But the real story is the staggering $531,000 the unions — mainly the Orange County Employees Association — spent in independent expenditures on behalf of Leos.

Still, this project is a good start, and I’m sure Chris will be incorporating improvements along the way.


$900,000? Sure it's a lot of money, but there's more where that came from.

$900,000? Sure it’s a lot of money, but there’s more where that came from.

The year-end Form 460s — those are campaign finance disclosure forms — were due yesterday, but a number of them were filed over the course of January.

I opened up the Form 460 for the OCEA-sponsored “Committee to Support John Leos for Anaheim City Council 2012,” and did a double take when I saw the final total spending on behalf of Leos:


One would have to do the research, but I’d wager that is an Anaheim record for IE spending on a single candidate by a single entity (with a sub-category of spending it and losing).

$365,622.65 of that was spent in the final 17 days of the campaign, with a large chunks uncorked in the last days to fund phone banks and paid walkers.


$390,000 of that $531,055 came from the pockets of OCEA members, the rest from other labor unions (some of which also receive campaign fund transfers from OCEA, so the latter’s total may be higher).

Now, if you had this to the $200,000 spent by OCEA in its unsuccessful attempt to elect Leos to council in 2010, and the estimated$100,000 it spent in 2011 on a series of city-wide mailers promoting Leos and his “transparency ordinance,” then OCEA has spent $700,000 over the course less than three years to put John Leos on the Anaheim City Council.

Now, add the $32,360.79 spent by the OCEA Independent Expenditure Committee to fund attacks on Jordan Brandman.

Let’s further broaden the scope to include the $64,000 that OCEA put into signature gathering for the anti-GardenWalk Take Back Anaheim initiative, which failed to qualify for the ballot. And then add in the money OCEA spent on mailers hitting Councilmembers Harry Sidhu, Kris Murray and Gail Eastman over the GardenWalk vote — which was likely another $100,000 (and I’m estimating conservatively).

We’re talking at least $900,000 the OCEA has spent on Anaheim politics in less that three years. That’s almost a million dollars, and with very little to show for it: two Leos losses, a failed initiative campaign, and an alienated new councilmember.

OCEA's John Leos (center) with OCEA Prez Robert Gibson (right) at Jerry Brown inaugural shindig.

OCEA’s John Leos (center) with OCEA Prez Robert Gibson (right) at Jerry Brown inaugural shindig.

As this blog as documented pretty thoroughly, the Orange County Employees Association spent a staggering amount of its members’ dues money in an effort to elect one of its members, John Leos, to the Anaheim City Council.

How much did that failed effort cost on a per-vote basis?

OCEA directly put into $350,000 into independent expenditures for Leos (this doesn’t take into account OCEA money that may have made its way into the election via transfers to other union-controlled committees, or even the estimated $100,000 OCEA spent in 2011 on direct mail promoting Leos).

John Leos ultimately garnered 19,051 votes.

That comes to $18.37 per vote…to buy a third place finish. Keep in mind that number may change when all the money is finally accounted for.

In 2010, OCEA directly spent $200,000 trying to elect Leos in 2010, when he received 12,966 votes. That’s $15.42 per vote.

Amazingly, OCEA  dollar-cost-per-vote ratio increased from 2010 to 2012, for a third-place finish both times. Not a good ROI on OCEA members’ moolah.

The dust has settled and once again, a hugely expensive government union effort to elect John Leos to the Anaheim City Council has fallen short.

In 2010, the Orange County Employees Association spent $——- in independent expenditures on behalf of John Leos candidacy. He came in third with 12.1% of the vote.

Leos and Berardino

OCEA’s John Leos at the union’s celebration of Jerry Brown’s inaugural, with OCEA Prez Robert Gibson and OCEA GM Nick Berardino

In the Fall of 2011, OCEA spent an estimated $100,000 on direct mail Anaheim voters promoting John Leos and his “transparency ordinance.”

This year, the OCEA put $350,000 into its pro-Leos campaign. Leos finished third with 13.9% of the vote.

That’s $650,000 in members’ dues money that OCEA has spent over two years in a vain attempt to make Leos an Anaheim City Councilman (and I’m not counting the $138,000 from the government union umbrella group UEOOC).

That additional $450,000 the OCEA spent for Leos in 2011-2012 only barely budged his percentage of the vote from 12.1% to 13.9% – even in a year with presidential election turnout. When you consider that unlike in 2010, this year Leos had the active support of the city’s well-liked conservative Republican mayor, as well as conservative Republicans Supervisor Shawn Nelson and Assemblyman Chris Norby, the failure of the Leos/OCEA campaign effort is even more glaring.

$650,000 is a huge sum of money to burn with nothing to show for it.

John Leos has made “transparency” a cornerstone of his campaign: he’s all about ensuring nothing is hidden from the voters.

Except when it comes to telling voters about his stands on the issues.

Click here to go to John Leos’ campaign website. Scroll down and in the lower right-hand corner you’ll see a photo of him with Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait:

Now, here’s the same photo in a John Leos campaign mailer that went out a few days ago, targeting Republican voters:

But wait! Are they the same picture? Let’s make a side-by-side comparison:

Well, what do you know? The Leos campaign altered the photo: Photoshopping out the “No on 32″ signs on the back wall.

Why would the Leos campaign do that?

Leos, a government union activists and (until recently) a director of the OCEA. opposes Prop. 32, which would require unions like his to get members’ permission before using their dues for political purposes. Prop. 32 has strong support among Anaheim Republican voters, and letting them know Leos’ stance on this issue would undercut efforts to sell him as a conservative reformer.

So Leos airbrushes his”No on Prop. 32” stance out of existence. He’s so transparent on the issue of Prop. 32 that his position on it has disappeared!

I posted yesterday on the sleazy mailer from the Orange County Employees Association, accusing Anaheim City Council candidate Jordan Brandman of breaking the law — without any evidence whatsoever.

Illustrating just how unhinged Anaheim politics have become in a few short months, you have a member of the Orange County Labor Federation (OCFL) attacking a candidate who as been endorsed by the OCFL.

Keep in mind that no OCEA mail goes out without the approval of General Manager Nick Beradino.

And keep in mind that Berardino is a Vice President of the California Labor Federation — of which the Orange County Labor Federation (OCFL) is a part.

In other words, a senior officer of the state labor federation is funding a smear of a candidate endorsed by a local affiliate of the organization of which he is an officer.

It’s analogous to the Vice Chairman of the California Republican Party funding a hit on a candidate endorsed by the Orange County Republican Party.

Brandman has filed a complaint with the OCFL seeking an investigation and possible sanctions against OCEA, writing in a letter to CLF head honcho Art Pulaski:

This mailer blatantly attacks my integrity without any evidence and I refuted all accusations long before this mailer was sent (press release attached).  I find this action by OCEA and its General Manager Nick Berardino who is also a Vice-President of the California Labor Federation very disturbing and ask for your immediate investigation and consideration of sanction against OCEA for violating long-standing practice to not attack fellow labor endorsed candidates in elections.

The animus of Berardino and OCEA toward Brandman is no secret, but an uneasy truce was put together during the maneuverings over OCFL endorsements in the Anaheim City Council election. The private sector unions backed Brandman but not Leos, and vice versa for the government unions. It was ultimately agreed that neither wing of the OCFL would block the other’s chosen candidate, clearing the way for OCFL to endorse both Brandman and Leos.

OCEA’s rash attack mailer essentially shatters that agreement.

And regardless of one’s partisan affiliation or preferences in the Anaheim City Council race, the OCEA’s mailer should be considered pretty scurrilous. Accusing someone of breaking the law, in the absolute absence of any evidence, is wrong.

As Anaheim Blog has noted, the OCEA and other government unions are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to put John Leos on the Anaheim City Council.  Leos is a county employee who is also an OCEA shop steward, and served on the board of directors for both the OCEA and the OCEA political action committee until earlier this year.

Leos’ own fundraising has been worse than it was two years — and it was anemic then. If he manages to get elected, it will be entirely due to the ocean of money the government unions are pouring into this race.

Chris Emami has posted some of the mailers being put out by the OCEA here, here and here.   

Leos and Berardino

OCEA’s John Leos at the union’s celebration of Jerry Brown’s inaugural, with OCEA Prez Robert Gibson and OCEA GM Nick Berardino

In a repeat of 2010, government employee unions ae pulling out the stops for John Leos’ campaign for Anaheim City Council.

The OCEA-sponsored “Committee to Support John Leos for Anaheim City Councl 2102” reported $138,000 in contributions from the United Employee Organizations of Orange County Independent Expenditure Committee (UEOOC). The UEOOC is an IE committee through which the OCEA, the Orange County Attorneys Association, the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs Association and other government employee associations funnel campaign contributions. It doesn’t sound so union-ish on the political mailer disclaimers.

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The Orange County Employees Association — the only visible means of support John Leos’ campaign has – has really started to open the money spigot.

According to a late contribution report filed by the government union today, since October 1 it has dumped $350,000 in members’ dues money into its Issues Committee (the OCEA maintains several campaign committees).

Last month, OCEA opened up the “Committee to Support John Leos for Anaheim City Council 2012,” and transferred into it $50,000 from the OCEA’s Independent Expenditure committee.

Of the big bucks poured into its Issues Committee, OCEA has contributed $80,000 into the Orange County Federation of Labor’s Committee On Political Education (COPE). Keep on eye on where that money goes from here.

It will be interesting to see how much of the remainder of that $350,000 infusion of members’ dues is used to play in Anaheim’s council election – not to mention in Costa Mesa, where the council majority, with Republican help,  is trying to rebuff the union-backed candidates. In Anaheim, there are Republicans are helping the union-backed candidate. Go figure.

OCEA’s John Leos (center) with OCEA Prez Robert Gibson (right) at Jerry Brown inaugural shindig.

I was looking at council candidate John Leos’ campaign website and saw this promise:

“I pledge to decline the City car allowance, medical benefits and pension.” – John Leos

Except for the car allowance part (and good for John Leos on that count), that’s like a non-smoker promising to give up cigarettes, or a teetotaler promising to give up drinking.

Leos works for the county probation department. He already has a government pension: 2.7% at 55 (which is far better than what most Anaheim voters can look forward to getting). He already has medical benefits through the county.

In other words, Leos is promising the taxpayers he will not to double-dip — which is good as far as it goes, but kind of the minimum one would expect — and in light of is existing county pension and medical benefits, an essentially meaningless promise.

Leos and Berardino

OCEA’s John Leos at the union’s celebration of Jerry Brown’s inaugural, with OCEA Prez Robert Gibson and OCEA GM Nick Berardino

The Orange County Employees Association (of which the Anaheim Municipal Employees Association is part) has spent another $12,428 in its effort to get county worker and government union activist John Leos elected to Anaheim City Council.

That’s on top of the $50,000 the big government union put into a separate campaign account, “The Committee In Support of John Leos for Anaheim City Council 2012.”

This spotlights how dependent on OCEA are the council hopes of Leos, whose fundraising is even more anemic than during his 2010 council run. He had raised only $10,775 as of September 30, while the OCEA had donated nearly six times that amount on his behalf.

The $12,o0o-plus was spent through the union’s IE committee and went to buying spots for Leos on seven slate mailers. Six of those seven slates — with names such as “Save Prop. 13,” the “National Taxpayers Limitations Committee Newsletter” and the “Small Business Action Committee” — belong to Landslide Communications, owned by longtime conservative activist and slate king Jim Lacy.

It makes for interesting politics: the left-leaning OCEA buys spots for government union activist Leos on conservative activists slates while simultaneously hiring a left-wing Occupy Movement consultant to run its pro-Leos campaign.

This morning, this blog wondered out loud how much the Orange County Employees Association would spend in a second attempt to elect John Leos to the Anaheim City Council.

We already have an answer.

According to the campaign reports filed today  by the OCEA-sponsored “Committee to Support John Leos for Anaheim City Council 2012” show the government employee union’s IE committee contributed $50,000 to its “Support John Leos” committee on Sept. 17.

The OCEA’s committee has already spent $21,849.09 for Leos: on slates, polling, mailers, campaign consultants.

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John Leos’ biggest fan.

If there were any doubts whether the Orange County Employees Association (with which the Anaheim city employees union is affiliated) was going all in for John Leos again this year, you can put them to rest.

The OCEA is sponsoring the “Committee to Support John Leos for Anaheim City Council 2012” political action committee.  You can bookmark it’s entry on the Cal-Access site to track the money going in and out. OCEA formed the committee last month (on September 11, to be precise)

By funding voter contact through this new committee rather than the union PAC, I’m guessing OCEA has learned a lesson from 2010, when the many pro-Leos mailers it funded all said “Paid for by the Orange County Employees Association” — a signal flare alerting voters that Leos’s was the government union candidate.

We should know the answer to that question by the end of this week: campaign reports should be available tomorrow.

According to Leo’s campaign reports, the consultant for his 2010 council run was Andrew Gibson. You can read them here.

Andrew is the brother of Robert Gibson, who is president of both the Orange County Employees Association Board of Directors, and president of the OCEA PAC.

Here’s Robert Gibson with Leos in Sacramento in January 2011 — at an OCEA shindig celebrating the inauguration of Jerry Brown as Governor:

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