I rarely blog here, but I decided to unveil a post that I have been sitting on about the funding of Voice of OC. The Voice of OC has been jokingly referred to as the Voice of OCEA and the Voice of OCEA and Brothers by many insiders around Orange County, due to funding coming from the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA). It’s commonly known around the county that the unions fund the Voice of OC but no one that I’ve talked to know how much.
I decided to try to put the pieces of the puzzle together and determine where the Voice of OC receives their funding and what motives they might have. My presentation to you will be simply presenting facts and allowing you to come up with your own conclusion.
In order to start my investigation, I went to one of the best sources of information on non-profit organizations: www.guidestar.org. The information that was retrieved from this website was rather fascinating.
Here is a copy of the form 990.
1) According to the “People” tab on the www.guidestar.org website, the current board of directors is a well-known group. Here is the most recent Board of Directors list; Joe Dunn, Erwin Chemerinsky, Henry Weinstein, Daniel Weintraub, John Cruz, Mario Rodriguez, Robert Magnuson, Stanley Tkaczyk, Loren Blackwood, Wylie Aitken (Chairman), and Norberto Santana (Editor-In-Chief, who also received over $100,000 in 2010).
Joe Dunn – former State Senator who represented the 34th Senate District (currently held by Senator Lou Correa). He unseated former Senator Rob Hurtt and caused the Republicans to lose its first State Senate seat in Orange County. Republicans have not being able to take back this Senate seat since. After he was termed out of office, Dunn was appointed as the CEO of the California Medical Association in 2006, and he is the current Executive Director of the State Bar of California and is a founding partner of The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP.
Wylie Aitken– A lawyer, but better known in the Orange County political arena as the Chairman and Founder of the Democratic Party Foundation in Orange County. He is famously known for providing political strategy and as a major donor to Democrats nationally and especially in Orange County.
Erwin Chemerinsky – The founding dean of University of California, Irvine School of Law. He is the author of a few different books including most recently two books titled; The Conservative Assault on the Constitution and Enhancing Government. It is my understanding that Chemerinsky also teaches political science classes.
Henry Weinstein– He is a founding member of the faculty at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. He like Robert Magnuson (his profile is listed below) also held a position at the Los Angeles Times in the past.
Daniel Weintraub – He has been a public affairs columnist for the Sacramento Bee editorial pages since 2000. Before working up in Sacramento, he worked at the Los Angeles Times for 8 years and Orange County Register for 6 years.
Robert Magnuson – He is the owner of Magnuson and Company, a strategic communications and management consulting firm based in Laguna Beach. His background includes over 20 years of working at the Los Angeles Times, where he was Senior Vice President in the organization.
Stan Tkaczyk – He is the current President of Rainbow Disposal Company and is the husband to Orange County Register Columnist Barbara Venezia. He was recently appointed to serve on the OC Fair Board by Governor Brown in 2012, where he serves with OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino on the Orange County Fair board. Both were appointed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Loren Blackwood – I could not find much information about her other than discovering that she co-founded the Newport Beach Winery with her boyfriend Richard Moriarty, who is the heir to the Segerstrom fortune. According to the article, she handles the marketing for Newport Beach Winery.
Mario Rodriguez – He is the chairman of the Hispanic 100 and former Chairman of the Latino Coalition.
John Cruz – He is also on the board of the Hispanic 100. He was appointed as the Appointments Secretary for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cruz is also an attorney.
2) In 2010, the Voice of OC took in $450,707 in total revenue. According to www.guidestar.org on the 2010 form 990 that was provided by the non-profit organization, here is the breakdown of where the cash is coming from. I’m only able to provide the 2010 contributors because that was the last time they made it available for the public to view.
Orange County Employees Association: $269,500
California Endowment: $82,008
United Food & Commercial Workers: $25,000
Wylie Aitken: $25,000
Joe Dunn: $14,635
Stephen Garcia: $10,000
Jeff Teller: $5,000
Anne Andrews: $5,000
Other Contributions (under $5,000): $14,564
You can expect to see this donor list in all of my future posts on this topic to serve as a reminder of where Voice of OC is receiving their funding and what their interest could be.
3) In order to provide a broader picture of the organization, I will also present that in 2010, the Voice of OC had $381,520 in total expenses. After searching through the 2010 Form 990, I could not find an itemized list of specifically what they purchased with the money they spent.
However, the only major expense they spent was for the editor-in-chief, Norberto Santana. His salary in 2010’s report was listed as $120,000 and $16,900 in other compensation.
As stated at the beginning of this post, I will not make any conclusions in this post, but simply leave you with this question:
Can a news agency/blog that appears to receive over 75% of their funding from public employee unions and high-ranking Orange County Democrats, write news stories that are objective in Orange County especially on high-ranking conservative Republicans? Was there ever an article written that didn’t lean to the left? More posts to come.
Here is a response to this article from Jennifer Muir of OCEA:
It’s no secret that OCEA provided seed funding for Voice of OC, and that since then, a number of other organizations and individuals have seen the impact of Voice’s investigative reporting and chosen to become contributors, as well. OCEA will continue to contribute for the following reasons: Voice of OC’s nearly 100,000 visitors per month, its string of investigative reporting awards from the OC Press Club, its recognition from the USC Annenberg School for Journalism, its inclusion on the Associated Press wires, its partnership with PBS, and its bipartisan Community Editorial Board. Journalists across the Country recognize the high quality and impact of Voice’s reporting, and Orange County is better for it.