OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Santa Ana City Council Campaign Contribution Law

Posted by Charles Hart on May 6, 2012

Tonight the Santa Ana City Council is going to, more than likely, vote to remove a restriction on campaign contributions and loans and the effect they play on how our Councilmembers vote.

 California Government Code and the Political Reform Act, along with Santa Ana Charter, require that elected officials abstain from voting on any matter where the official received a campaign contribution of more than $250 in the 12 months immediately preceding a vote. In November 1996, Ordinance NS 2034 was adopted by the City Council which imposed an additional restriction prohibiting a Councilmember from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions or loans of more than $250 for a period of three months following a vote.

 The current sitting Santa Ana City Council has been plagued with controversy over Councilmembers voting on matters for which they have  received campaign contributions. Back in 2010, Councilmembers Sal Tinajero and Michele Martinez received several thousand dollars in campaign contributions from companies with a financial stake in a land project called the Station District. Without their votes the council did not have the votes to approve the project.  The contributions came both before and after the vote.

 This was in direct violation of the state and city laws discussed above, and when exposed, the Councilmembers returned the contributions, but the vote had already been cast. The legally correct thing to do would have been to undue the vote and sanction or fine the Councilmembers that illegally voted, but our City Council claimed it was too late to undue the contractual commitments made. A contract illegally entered into is void, and that is what should have occurred, but our Council once again failed to do the right thing. 

 Tonight our City Council is going to try and make things right by simply making the law that makes what they do illegal, go away. So if we stop saying that robbery is illegal then it’s okay for us to rob and be robbed – right? 

 Wrong!  A rose by any other name is still a rose; and the practice of putting your vote out for sale is wrong.  Santa Ana City Councilmembers are very arrogant in the positions of authority that they have been elected to and have repeatedly said “Hey, if you don’t like it – vote me out.” Well, I agree with that statement and I urge the Santa Ana Voters to do just that this November.

26 Responses to “Santa Ana City Council Campaign Contribution Law”

  1. Ocpoliticsblog said

    Your post is highly inaccurate. The Council Members were advised by the last City Attorney that they could accept the contributions. It was a mistake on his part and he later retired.

    It should be noted that the leading O.C. campaign finance activist, Shirley Grindle, agrees with the Council that this law should be changed.

    As you are yourself a Santa Ana Council candidate, I can understand why you would write this post, but it is erroneous and it is nothing more than a campaign ad for you.

    • Is Art Pedroza really lecturing a blogger about erroneous posts or failing to disclose that said blogger is a candidate for office? Let’s note all the free ads on OC Politics or New Santa Ana that are in-kind contributions. Let us note that in 2010, Mr. Pedroza accepted more than $6000 from Mayor Pulido, Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero, and was later caught putting up a site called “Amezcua Facts” without disclosing any of this. Such is the missing sense of ethics from Mr. Pedroza.

    • Thomas Gordon said

      So you are saying that the Council isn’t responsible for any of it’s own actions?

      Santa Ana City Council ran up a 30 Million budget deficit and the Council it’s supporters blamed retired City Manager Dave Ream.

      Santa Ana City Council was forced to get rid of its 128 year old Fire Department because of its 30 Million budget deficit (only saving 5 million after contracting out for ambulance services) and the Council it’s supporters blame retired City Manager Dave Ream.

      Members of the Santa Ana City Council including Sal Tinajero and Michele Martinez took illegal campaign contributions before and after illegal votes and then they and their supporters blamed retired City Attorney Joe Fletcher.

      How sad that the Santa Ana City Council chooses to go around blaming others for its poor decisions, illegal votes and inept management.

      Who is to blame for the lack of parks, the high crime rates, the poor graduation rates from our local schools, our crumbling infrastructure, the excessive amount of empty businesses?

      Harry Truman kept a sign on his desk that said “The buck stops here”

      He understood that all decisions and responsibility were his and his alone.

      Its time that the Santa Ana City Council understand that and accept all responsibility for its own actions.

      • Dan Chmielewski said

        Let’s be honest here. Mr. Pedroza is accusing Mr. hart of writing this post as a “free ad” for his city council race when his Own blog is nothing more than a promotional tool to promote his own candidacy and tear down his opponents. Hypocrite!

        • Silly liberal. It’s my blog. I can do what I want with it. And I am quite upfront about my campaign. Hart wrote this piece without even mentioning that he is a candidate for the Santa Ana City Council.

          By the way Dan, why are you defending Hart when he is known to hang out with anti-Latino Republicans in Santa Ana? And he has publicly pined for the “good old days” when presumably there were less Mexicans in Santa Ana. Perhaps you agree with Hart?

          As for the IE issue, give it a rest. The issue isn’t the $250 Martinez got. The issue is the $78,000 spent on Daly’s behalf by a PAC that took money from Nestle (accuse of child slave labor) and AT&T (charged lobbyists $50K to play golf with Assembly Speaker John Perez), and Chevron (big oil!). http://ocpoliticsblog.com/daly-gets-78k-from-a-corporate-pac-but-martinez-critics-go-mad-over-250/

          BTW, the Lincoln Club rejected Hart, Gordon and all of the other Republicans running for Central Committee in the 69th A.D., except for party volunteer Gwen Dyrud…

          • Dan Chmielewski said

            Yes it is your blog and you can do what you want with it including changing anti-Ted Moreno comments into anti-Tim Rush comments ( we get the emails from those who post them). And I am not defending Hart’s post; only pointing out your own track record and your failure to disclose you took money from Pulido, Tinajero and Martinez without disclosing you had been paid. I’ll point out Chevron also wrote a big check to Martinez.

            • Ocpoliticsblog said

              I have no legal obligation to disclose who I design websites for. Besides, if I did you would then stalk them mercilessly.

              I am a blogger, as you are. We’re not journalists.

              • Dan Chmielewski said

                Said the Facebook stalker…you have an ethical obligation to disclose. But ethics aren’t your strong suit are they? Funny , but I seem to recall you using a journalist’s privilege as part of your defense in the two lawsuits you lost. So you pick and choose if you are a blogger or a journalist depending on what you see fit. So what was the reason for ignoring federal court orders again?

  2. Sergio said

    The city council members are justifying this action by saying that the ordinance attempts to limit their ability to run for other offices. That’s a very flawed perspective. This ordinance, on its face, does not prevent anyone from running for any office they want.
    – First of all, the council members commit to the community that they will serve for 4 years when they are elected. If they abandon that commitment and attempt to use the council position to leapfrog to another office, that’s pretty sleazy, and should tell voters this candidate doesn’t stand behind what they say and can’t be trusted.
    – Second, they can run for another office if they choose, but they are not allowed to use the city council position to raise funds for that office. If they vote on an item and then accept money from the person who placed that item before them, that vote is compromised. It’s good public policy to have a system of checks and balances to prevent this from happening.
    – There are a lot of people out there who can contribute to a campaign. If a council member chooses to accept money from someone with business before them, the public needs to be guaranteed that that person does not have extraordinary access to government resources. The existing ordinance provides that equity, guaranteeing that someone who pays the council member has no more access than any other member of the public. The whole issue could easily be resolved by the city council members acting ethically and not accepting contributions from those they know have had business before them.
    This ordinance does not unfairly limit any council member from running for another office, and only provides an extra assurance to the public that the city’s business will be conducted in an ethical and proper manner. To remove that protection compromises the integrity of the office of the city council.

    If this is a good idea, why not wait until a non election cycle to consider implementing it? Since it is being done mid campaign, it’s pretty obvious that it might just be in support of a particular member instead of the best interests of the public.

  3. OC Insider said

    Is this how is works, Nguyen? You actually get a post from a local activist/candidate with a good reputation and you turn around and trash him? And where are all the contributions in writing from the long list of “bloggers” in your right-hand column?

    Hart’s points are correct, your response is not. Grow up and get professional. Otherwise, shut this worthless endeavor down and quit wasting everyone’s time.

    What happens when someone posts about your boss’s drinking issues and marital problems? Are those easily uncovered facts going to be “inaccurate”?

    • I think you are confusing Mr. Nguyen with Art Pedroza who runs the OCPolitics blog..similar name. Mr. Pedroza offers free ads to the candidates he supports and is in no position to lecture anyone about the accuracy of blog posts as his own blog often struggles with the truth.

      • Ocpoliticsblog said

        No more freebies. I sold every ad that is currently on my blogs.

        As I have told you before, we are bloggers, not journalists. But Hart clearly is in campaign mode in this post.

        By the way, you are all going nuts over $250 donations. What about the $70,000 the Jobs PAC has spent on the Daly campaign?

        • Dan Chmielewski said

          Thats not what the Dovinh campaign says. Candidates can’t cooridinate IEs doesn’t Michele have any IEs coming in for her?

          • Ocpoliticsblog said

            Candidates can’t coordinate IE’s, so why would Michele know if she has any coming her way.

            I can prove every ad sale I have made but if Dovinh told you that he is probably just afraid of pissing you off. Leave him alone. He is a good guy.

            • so I guess the Palas aren’t coming in big for Michele like she hoped. I doubt Bob Huff bought an ad on your site. Benson told me himself they didn’t pay for an add. Martinez’s forms show no ad buys on your site. Choi shows it as an “in-kind” donation. Dovinh IS a nice guy. And even if he paid for the ad, which I doubt as your track record of telling the truth is ..bad…so what.

              But instead of focusing on that, don’t you find it a bit ironic to lecture Charles Hart on the accuracy of his blog post when you seldom write things that are truthful? For example, shouldn’t the voters in OC BoE District 1 know you have 2 bankruptcies, you have been sued for credit card fraud, that you owe back taxes to the IRS and the State of California dating back to 2008? Since being a teacher is your primary occurpation these days, foreclosure can’t be too far off right?

              It must kill you not to have the power to change or delete comments you can’t control. We got all the emails from people who said comments they posted to your blog about Ted Moreno were changed to comments about Tim Rush.

            • Dan Chmielewski said

              You yourself have written its ok for a candidate to know about an IE even if they don’t coordinate it. Surely Michele knows about IEs?

    • OC Insider,

      This is a case of mistaken identity. The comment you are referring to comes from the “OC Politics Blog” run by Pedroza, not “OC Political” which is run by Nguyen, Brown, and myself.

      • Greg Diamond said

        I still say that there will be less confusion if we just call Art’s bloc “Tics” and yours “Tickle.”

    • Not to beat a dead horse, but as Dan Chmielewski and Chris Emami both noted, you are grossly mistaken, OC Insider. I did not write the comment you are referring to; that comment was written by Art Pedroza. I always comment under my own name on this blog.

      I could ask for an apology for this unfounded attack on myself, this blog, and my boss, but I doubt you even have the class to retract your errors, OC Insider.

  4. @ Charles H:

    Thank you for looking out for the citizens of Santa Ana!!!

    As we all know:

    1) Various members of the Santa Ana City council have been violating the law – accepting campaign contributions and voting illegally, as pointed out by various media outlets (in particular Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero). They have offered various defenses where they shift responsibility somewhere else. (oh, it is the city’s staff fault for not telling us we were conflicted in voting, when city staff have no responsibility and wouldn’t know about the campaign contributions). You are correct the illegal vote (and thus an illegal contract) should have been voided.

    2) This city council is proposing less citizen oversight and less citizen control over elected officials and their actions;

    3) This city council is attacking small family owned businesses by supporting higher taxes on Santa Ana’s small businesses through the unconstitutional PBID, when it is small to medium sized businesses in California and in the country that create 90% of the jobs; and

    4) This city council has been dismissive of citizens concerns…it seems that the majority of this city council feels that they can disregard the citizens without impunity! January of 2011, I led a press conference which included at least 6 of the top national LATINO organizations with heavy local presence in Orange County, calling for an Orange County Grand Jury Investigation of an ALL LATINO.

    a) We presented 4 key areas of possible illegal and unethical behavior.

    b) I found the 13-year backdating of the hire start-date of Joe Fletcher past City Attorney. This backdating by 13 years was done specifically for calculating the UNused vacation days, and UNused sick leave, and I would say Unearned compensation resulting in about $200,000 in gift of public funds, and in addition to the $142,000 of severance pay for resigning. With respect to this, the majority of this city council has been violating their Duty of Care, and their Fiduciary Responsibility to act in the best interest of the citizens, taxpayers and residents of Santa Ana.

    See the source documents at:

    Click to access city_attorney.pdf

    Former city attorney Hired in 1996 (with start date that City Attorney chooses, in 2002 city council said they would backdate unused vacation and sick leave to 1983).

    Various TV, print and online media reported on this. Here is one sample:

    Link to written report:

    Link to David Nazar’s KOCE reporter TV segment :

    Francisco Paco Barragan
    For State Assembly 2012 – 69th AD
    Business, Veterans and Community Leader
    (714) 605-2544 cell

    • Moneypenny said

      This Fletcher is in our city – doing the more of the same – and guess who our “Community Development Director” is in Menifee – Carmen Cave – Current Council Member of Aliso Viejo serving as the City’s first Mayor upon incorporation on July 1, 2001, Carmen went on to serve as Mayor again in 2006, 2007 and 2011. And she was instrumental in hiring Fletcher …. hmmmm is there anything anyone up there knows about THIS unholy alliance?

  5. Henry Gattis said

    Sorry to see the blog wars permeate another site.

    • the debate is on topic Henry; and Pedroza can’t delete or edit the comments like he does of “his blogs.” Pedroza criticizing people for mimicing the same behavior he does is fair game.

  6. Kristal said

    It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people in this particular subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about!

  7. Teri said

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to
    be really something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  8. […] Santa Ana City Council Campaign Contribution Law […]

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