Districting Panel Chair Headlined Democratic Fundraiser Days Before Vote on “People’s Map”

Anaheim Insider here.

In October 2015, a few days before the Advisory Committee on Electoral Districts recommend the map being aggressively pushed by a group of liberal and Democratic special interests, the chair of that Advisory Committee headlined a political fundraiser for the Democratic Foundation of Orange County (DFOC).

The advisory committee was composed of retired judges, and chaired by retired Court of Appeals Justice Edward Wallin. Wallin headined a political fundraiser for the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, which is sort of the Democratic counterpart to the conservative Lincoln Club of Orange County. According to the DFOC website, “Our Members meet and interact with the most prominent Democratic Leaders of the day.”

On October 2, DFOC members interacted with Justice Wallin at a DFOC fundraising luncheon:

jacobson wallin captioned

According to the ActBlue online payment form, “Funds raised through this event support Democratic Foundation of Orange County – Federal.”

Click on this link to photos from the even and you’ll see a photo of Eric Altman and Claudio Gallegos. Altman has been at the forefront of the by-district elections in Anaheim project from the beginning. Altman ran OCCORD from its founding until 2014; he left to run the successful campaign to pass Measures L and M in November of that year. Gallegos is a districting-savvy Democratic political operative who is in involved in this issue in Anaheim, Buena Park and Garden Grove.

Others Democrats who have headlined DFOC events in recent months: 46th Congressional District candidate Lou Correa; 29th Senate District candidate Sukhee Kang and U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

Justin Wallin is, in fact, a member of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, the stated mission of which is electing Democrats:

The Mission of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County is to Elect Democrats in Orange CountyThis includes electing Democrats locally and seeing to it that statewide and nationwide candidates do well in Orange County.

A few days later, on October 6, Justice Wallin and the rest of the advisory committee voted to recommend adoption of the Reyes map (aka “The People’s Map). As it happens, this map was the culmination of a coordinated effort to alter Anaheim council election rules in order to elect more Democrats, few of whom were successful under the at-large system.

Wallin’s membership in the DFOC should have been taken into consideration when vetting applicants for the Advisory Committee. How appropriate was it for a member of a group dedicated to electing Democrats to local, state and federal office to chair the drawing of council districts in OC’s largest city? If a Lincoln Club member had chaired the Advisory Committee, the OCCORD-led group would certainly have protested. And given the charged political atmosphere surrounding the task of drawing council districts and the unavoidable impact of partisan politics,  it certainly undermines the presumed impartiality of the Advisory Panel that a few days before delivering the key final vote on a preferred map, the panel chairman was helping a Democratic Party group raise money to help elect Democrats in Orange County.

The deal is done. The map and sequencing is approved. But it is progressively harder for anyone to deny the whole campaign for by-district elections was directed by political interests allied with the Democratic Party.

10 comments

  1. This isn’t grounds to sue?

  2. Why am I not surprised?

  3. What are the political affiliations of the other members of the group?

  4. I thought that all city/local politics were supposed to be non-partisan.

  5. It’s my information that Wallin sought out appointment to the Advisory Committee. Originally, the idea was for the city to ASK retired judges to apply.

    Following the October 6 vote, Wallin went outside the council chambers and toasted with the celebrating OCCORD and UNITE-HERE activists.

    In light of all these facts, it’s plausible Wallin was encouraged or asked to apply by political interests with a vested interest in a map most likely to produce a Democratic majority on the City Council.

  6. Did OCGOP or any other non liberal community group submit an alternative map to the “people’s map?” If not, then how can anyone complain? The OCGOP let this happen as did everyone who sat on the sidelines.

  7. Good point. The OC GOP has been totally AWOL.

  8. From what I was able to gather 14 judges applied to be on the map selection committee and the four spots were willed by lottery selection. Steven Sunvold, Thomas Thrasher, James Jackman and Nancy Wieben Stock had each of their names pulled. I couldn’t find party affiliations for these retired judges, but I did find that they were all appointed to the bench by the Gov. George Deukmejian so it’s not a strech to say they lean toward republican association.
    Sorry when only one of the judges is associated with the Democratic Party it’s difficult for me to buy into your hysteria. Remember this was a unanimous vote.
    All five have impeccable reputations. I trust that they looked at all of the facts and made a fair minded decision.

  9. A single, strong partisan can steer a committee of non-partisans. I’m not being hysterical. I’m raising questions about Wallin’s partisanship and impartiality, which you haven’t answered. Do you think he should have headlined a political fundraiser to help elect Democratic candidates while chairing the Anaheim district mapping process? Should he have been celebrating with the OCCORD group after the vote for their map? At best, it shows bad judgment and an indifference to the perception of neutrality, which was the whole point of having judges draw the lines.

  10. Fair enough. I apologize for characterizing your argument as hysterical. And I do think it’s fair to ask if a judge is partial or not. I do not know judge Wallin, but I believe that your assertions are not logical.
    First, one has to buy in that the Reyes map was the only map submitted that was supported by people who are associated with the Democrats. In fact there was the LULAC map and others that also has strong ties to the Democratic Party. Second, you have to believe that a group judges all appointed by a Republican Governor could be steered away from making the best and most impartial decision by this one biased wildcard. I just don’t see that. All of the other four seem very strong and distinguished. Third, we must believe that Wallin is indeed the most reckless and persuasive person that has ever worn a black robe. Since nothing in his record indicates such one sided behavior, I think you got this one wrong. Is it possible that your bias keeps you from admitting that the Reyes map is the most fair and balanced option for district elections? Yeah I think that’s more likely.

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