Voice of OC Misses OCEA’s Hidden Hand

Anaheim Insider here.

Did you see the Orange County Register article about how the Orange County Employees Association shuffled political funding through various PACs in order to disguise who was paying the campaign mailers? Among other things, OCEA gave a PAC called California Citizens for Fair Government $75,000 in start-up donations, and provided 81% of the PACs funding during its three-year lifespan:

[OCEA General Counsel Don Drozd] said he checked with the treasurer of the OCEA PAC that funded CCFG and confirmed that OCEA had nothing to do with creating CCFG or deciding how CCFG should spend its money.

That’s pretty hard spin to swallow: “Here’s $75,000 of our members’ dues money. We don’t care what you do with it.”

One of the commenters on the OC Register story reacted this way:

Drozd and Bernadino have a firm grip on every decision OCEA makes. For him to say he didn’t recall the specifics, then specifically deny any strings were attached, is not credible. The proverbial hand in the cookie jar.

The story reminded me of one Adam Elmahrek wrote near the end of the Anaheim city council elections last year called “Disney’s Latest Adventure: Local Campaign Attack Ads.” In it, Elmahrek pointed to Disney’s participation in political committees that paid for campaign mailers advocating for and against Anaheim council candidates and unfavorably compared it to the OCEA’s above-board approach:

Labor unions have also spent big, nearly matching the business establishment dollar-for-dollar in their support of former labor leader John Leos. The difference is following the labor money is relatively easy, while keeping track of Disney’s spending is a bit like riding a roller coaster in the dark [emphasis mine].

Martin Wisckol and Morgan Cook of the OC Register sure made a hash of that claim.

It’s not like Voice of OC can’t analyze campaign reports. Elmahrek spent a lot of time doing that for the above article and for another one called “Disney’s Hidden Hand  In The Anaheim City Council Race.” It seems it’s the hidden hand of its major funder, the OCEA, that escapes the Voice’s notice. [Although the Voice did take advantage of the opportunity to say “See! We’ll criticize the OCEA!” by printing a summary of the OC Register’s article.]

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  1. Notice how there was no quote from OCEA Asst. GM Jennifer Muir in the OC Register story? She’s the union spokesman and Berardino’s heir-apparent, but instead they rolled out Don Drozd to issue on-the-record denials that nobody believes.

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