OCCORD/Briggs Conflict-of-Interest Accusations Are Baseless

So I’m reading through this letter from the lefty attorney Cory Briggs, whom OCCORD has dragged in an attempt to get state and county authorities to prosecute everyone on the Anaheim City Council except Mayor Tom Tait, and my first thought is, “Did this Briggs guys actually go to law school?”

I encourage you to read it, because there is no there, there. The allegations by OCCORD and Briggs barely rise to the level of guilt by association. If there were indeed any violations of the Political Reform Act of 1974, Briggs would have specified in his which sections have been transgressed. His omission is telling. Essentially, OCCORD and Briggs are asking state and local prosecutors to go on legal fishing expedition to find something on OCCORD’s political opponents (no wonder local gasbags are delighted with this: all innuendo and no substance – exactly their flavor).

Here’s the text of the letter:

Dear Attorney General Harris and District Attorney Rackauckas:

On behalf of Tina Quintana (a registered voter in the City of Anaheim) and Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, and pursuant to Government Code Section

91007, I am writing to request that you commence prosecutorial actions against Anaheim City Councilmembers Kris Murray, Gail Eastman, Lucille Kring, and Jordan Brandman for violations of the Political Reform Act of 1974 (“PRA”).

My clients believe that these four politicians violated the PRA for the following reasons:

(1) All four of them voted in favor of items 23 and 25 on the Anaheim City Council’s agenda for its regular meeting on May 14, 2013. See the meeting’s minutes (Ex. “A” hereto), p. 23. The subject matter of those items was the GardenWalk Hotel Project, which received a $158 million tax subsidy. The video of the meeting is available at http://anaheim.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1244.

(2) Councilmembers Eastman and Murray sit on the Support Our Anaheim Resort (“SOAR”) advisory committee with Bill O’Connell. Mr. O’Connell is one of the principals of the GardenWalk Hotel Project and thus is a beneficiary of the subsidy. A copy of the “About SOAR” web page is attached as Ex. “B”; check the list of advisory committee members to see all three of these persons listed. The councilmembers thus have a business relationship with a beneficiary of the subsidy.

Additionally, SOAR executive director Jill Kanzler spoke in favor of the subsidy. See the meeting minutes (Ex. “A”), p. 7. Todd Ament, who co-chairs the SOAR advisory committee, spoke in favor of the subsidy (see p. 7). Sandra Day and Stan Pawlowski, also members of the advisory committee, spoke in favor of the subsidy (see pp. 3 & 5).

Again, the councilmembers have a business relationship with these persons. The relationship between SOAR and Mlle. Murray and Eastman was not disclosed during the May 14 meeting.

(3) Councilmember Kring’s latest Form 460 (see Ex. “C”) shows that SOAR’s political action committee gave her $500.00 a few months before she voted in favor of the subsidy and gave her another $500.00 less than two weeks after the vote. A public official may not vote on a campaign contributor’s project within 12 months of receiving the contribution, and taking such action constitutes an illegal conflict of interest. (Even if that were not the rule, my clients believe that there has been a quid pro quo.)

(4) Councilmember Brandman was endorsed by the SOAR political action committee and received money from it. The endorsement announcement is attached as Ex. “D.” Mr. Brandman’s Form 460 for the first half of 2012 (see Ex. “E”) shows that he received $1,800.00 from the PAC on June 30, 2012. As with Ms. Kring, his vote on the matter is illegal under the PRA and case law construing. (Again, my clients believe there has been a quid pro quo.)

Please return a file-stamped copy of this letter for my records and be sure to let me know, one way or the other, whether you decide to take action; under Government Code Section 91007, you have 120 days from receipt of this request to file suit. My clients intend to file suit if you decide not to do so.

Thank you very much for giving this request the attention it deserves.

Sincerely,

BRIGGS LAW CORPORATION

Is this a joke?

SOAR Isn’t A Business; Service On Volunteer Non-Profit Board Not A “Business Relationship”
Briggs and OCCORD entire case is based on the claim that serving with someone as an unpaid, volunteer member of the advisory board of a non-profit organization means you have a “business relationship” with that person.

What business? SOAR manufactures no products, nor does it sell any services. It’s a not-for-profit organization (just like OCCORD). Claiming, as Briggs and OCCORD do, that Councilmembers Murray and Eastman have a “business relationship” with their advisory board colleagues is absolutely ludicrous.

If OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman speaks during public comments tonight, I hope someone on the City Council asks him if Amin David, Ada Briceno, Tefere Gebre, Marisol Ramirez and other members of his Board of Directors have a “business relationship” with him and each other by virtue of that service?

Campaign Contributions Cannot Create Conflict-of-Interest
The other absurd claim made by Briggs and OCCORD is that Councilmembers Jordan Brandman and Lucille Kring violated conflict of interest laws by accepting campaign contributions from the SOAR PAC — which is a separate legal entity from SOAR — because  “a public official may not vote on a campaign contributor’s project within 12 months of receiving the contribution, and taking such action constitutes an illegal conflict of interest.”

Where does one start? I guess the first place is to direct Cory Briggs and Eric Altman to this link so they can refresh themselves on what constitutes a conflict-of-interest — because the allegation in this letter ain’t even in the same solar system.

Simply put, an elected official has a conflict if “the decision will have a reasonably foreseeable material financial effect on one or more of his/her economic interests, unless the public official can establish either: (1) that the effect is indistinguishable from the effect on the public generally, or (2) a public official’s participation is legally required.”

Secondly, neither SOAR nor the SOAR PAC are building the GardenWalk project — which Eric Altman and the OCCORDobots know perfectly well.

Even so, accepting campaign contributions from individuals or organizations with business before the city do not constitute a conflict-of-interest. Campaign contributions do not conflict.

This is classic left-wing bullying tactics. OCCORD has really crossed a line here, and the baselessness of their allegations is an indication of both the desperation and stupidity of this move.

No comments

  1. I thought you might find this interesting. it was shared on the Anaheim Canyon Community Coalition FB page.
    http://saveanaheim.com/blog/2013/8/12/breaking-news

  2. Matthew Cunningham

    Thank you, Alex.

    Unfortunately, while is bills itself as an “ethical and independent voice that supports civic responsibility” the reality is the Anaheim Canyon Community Coalition has joined up with the left-wing coalition to divide Anaheim into ethnic fiefdoms aka single-member council districts, and is turning itself into an adjunct of the Tait re-election campaign…that is, when the ACCC isn’t abetting character assassination.

  3. I wonder if Tait and Associates does its banking with Wells Fargo Bank, since they are funding this phony group and lawsuit? Can we find out somehow?

  4. Cory Briggs should be embarrassed by this letter. It in no way meets a minimum standard of legal due diligence. He has opened himself and his client up to cross complaints if this moves forward.

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