You’ve gotten a lot of junk mail from them lately, about the 72nd Assembly race, and mostly reprehensible attacks on Chris Norby. Never heard of this operation with the lame name? Don’t feel bad. Hardly anyone else has either. That’s because it doesn’t make anything, doesn’t stand for anything, and doesn’t even exist – except on paper. It is a political Independent Expenditure “Committee” that’s sole reason for existence is to funnel lobbyist money into political campaigns.
But let’s let Repuglican Bigmouth Jon Fleischman tell it:
“Just heard from Jim Nygren the consultant for the Alliance for California’s Tomorrow, the Sacramento insider crowd that is ponying up big-time to try and elect Linda Ackerman in AD 72.”
Jim Nygren. A political “consultant” who operates a slush fund for “insiders” to get one of their own in power. Redevelopment abusers, gambling interests, etc., etc. These are the real supporters of Team Ackerman. And boy, oh boy do they want their cardboard cutout up in Sacto. where they can put her to work over rigatoni with clam sauce at Spataro.
And check out Fleischman’s post: they’ve lined up the punch drunk Bankhead to provide testamonials for Linda Ackerman, the woman whose husband, Dick, famously coined the moniker “Blankhead”! One letter is meant for Reeps the other for Dems. Geez, they think of everything! But given Bankhead’s embarrassingly vacant performance on the council dais lately, one has to wonder if his support is worth much.
A quick perusal of Mrs. Linda Ackerman’s resume discovers her touting her “non-profit” experience. Well, we were a little curious what that might be, and boy were we somewhat surprised. It turns out that Mrs. Ackerman is co-founder and board member of something called the Pacific Policy Research Foundation located in Folsom, California, a corporation organized under the 501(c)(3) provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. Check it out here. “Purpose: promote common good and welfare of community.”
The sole evident purpose of this entity with the lofty-sounding title is to solicit donations from big industry and union lobbyists to pay for a week-long retreat in Hawaii for state legislators and those very same lobbyists who support the “Foundation.” The politicians pay their way out of their excess campaign funds, and once there, are the captive audience of the selfsame parasites they see at Spataro for lunch every day of the week. The “conference” is little more than a perfunctory morning schmooze fest with afternoons off for good behavior.
In 2007 then Senator Dick Ackerman made the arduous fact-finding trek to Maui, and we wonder whether Linda went, and if so whether she paid her own way, if Dick’s campaign foot her bill, or if maybe the Foundation picked up her tab as a board member. In this Sac Bee article (search for Ackerman) we read, in response to criticism about that junket:
“…Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine, who is attending the conference, said it provides top-notch panel discussions on energy, health care, water and other key issues.
“It’s extremely valuable,” Ackerman said.
Uh, yeah, right Dick. Whatever you say.
Well, Hawaii is in the Pacific. Other than that there seems to be zero relationship between the name of the group and the activity. There is no research (except, perhaps researching ways the lobbyists can stay under their gift allowances per legislator), and no charitable purpose at all. Their only other accomplishment seems to have been “updating” their website. Wow! What a busy year for the Foundation!
To add insult to injury, a 2007 LA Times article describes how the other co-founder, Sharon Leonard, wife of BOE member Bill Leonard, and Leonard’s BOE Deputy, Barbara Alby, actually got paid, and paid a lot, to “organize” the annual Hawaii outings.
In the Sac Bee article the history of the Hawaiian luau of lobbyist love is outlined. Apparently the junket used to be a gig run by the fine gentlemen of the state prison guard union – until that racket was cut off; only to be taken over in 2005 by the apparently more subtle founders of the Pacific Policy Research Foundation operation. Well you have to give Mrs. Ackerman and her cohorts credit – they didn’t miss a trick.
We have to wonder just when the IRS is going to get wise and shut down this little philanthropic enterprise.
Too bad the people of the California and the 72nd wouldn’t get the kind of attention from Mrs. Ackerman that the lobbyists do. It’s a real cozy, incestuous, culture that the Ackermans are used to up there in Sacramento. Business as usual, in fact.
In a late expenditure report filed 10/19/09 an independent expenditure committee basking in the hilarious title Alliance for California’s Tomorrow; A California Business Coalition (interpretation: a front for whatever corporate donors and PACs want to spend money on to promote their own enrichment by manipulating the Legislature, and meanwhile keep their hands clean – sort of). This particular IE was in support of Linda Ackerman, naturally. They paid for a mailer.
The report shows three donations: $10,000 from California Cable & Telecom Association (10/15/09), State Building & Construction Trades Council of California(10/16/09), and the real curiosity – $5000 contributed last July 20th.
Why did Eli Lilly, the drug maker, just happen to put five big ones in an IE in the middle of July. What for? It doesn’t seem that it could have had anything to do with the other money put in for the Ackerwoman campaign in mid-October. On July 20th the Duvall story was still a month away from breaking, although the actual incident had already occurred, and apparently several people already knew it was out there. So the reason for the mid-summer contribution is strange. Was it just a periodic payment Eli Lilly tossed into the Alliance for California’s Tomorrow kitty? That seems pretty hard to believe. So what was it for? And how did it come to be used for in the 72nd campaign?
Yet, consider this coincidence-wise: one of the 2008 board members of The Pacific Policy Research Foundation (Linda Ackerman’s fake 501(c0(3) Hawaiian vacation scam) was Dan Howle; and Howle directs government affairs in Sacramento (lobbyist) for pharmaceutical giant…Eli Lilly. It’s a small world after all in Sacramento. And boy is it loaded with lobbyists.
Yesterday Rogue Elephant posted this over at the Orange Juice blog. The gist of the post is that a loophole in state campaign finance laws permits politicos like Repuglicans Jim Brulte and Dick Ackerman to cook up “putative” campaign committees for future office in order to transfer existing campaign balances, raise tons of money from lobbyists for these supposed campaigns, and then distribute the proceeds to exert influence in other elections across the State.
Rogue Elephant notes that Loophole Linda’s 72nd Assembly power grab has received $3900 from Brulte’s 2014(!) Board of Equalization Committee. What he doesn’t mention is that she also received the same amount (the limit) from her husband Dick’s similar committee, also for the BoE. Ackerman set up his “2010” BoE committee in as far back as 2006 according an article in the Oakland Tribune that describes the practice.
Why the BoE? Because these useless barnacles have been scraped off the legislature – termed out, but haven’t finished working the system, not by a long shot. They need a plausible office to “run” for, even if they have no intention of actually running. In the meantimeBrulte actually works as a lobbyist for an outfit called California Strategies – a collection of former electeds and appointeds working their contacts.So when he gives Mrs. Ackerman money, he can kill two birds with one stone!
Rogue Elephant sums up his take on this pungent mess:
While Linda Ackerman’s campaign funding smells of Sacramento’s bipartisan Culture of Corruption, it also reeks of a Culture of Creepiness. Voters and taxpayers should find it creepy to see former politicians and lobbyists using political slush funds to pull the strings of candidates like Linda Ackerman.
The Linda Ackerman campaign issued one of those out-of-a-can press releases the other day bragging about her endorsement by three City of Orange councilmembers – Cavecche, Murphy, and Dumitru.
We thought we would have some fun with this, reciting the baloney that was assigned to a couple of these worthies, meant to appear as genuine quotations.
“Linda Ackerman has always done what is right for the sake of the community, not political gain,” said Mayor Carolyn Cavecche. “She is a proven leader who will help solve California’s budget crisis and bring Orange County values to the State Assembly.”
Well that’s a tissue of lies. C’mon Carolyn, haven’t you heard about the Pacific Policy Research Foundation? And Carolyn, didn’t you know Linda was paid $76,000 by her husband’s own political campaign – as a “consultant”? How selfless!
Well Cavecche, at least, has proven herself a leader – a leader in Orange pension spiking right out of the OC GOP RINO playbook. Here’s her colleague Murphy:
Citing Ackerman’s fiscal conservative credentials as a businesswoman who has spent years balancing budgets, Councilmember Mark A. Murphy said: “Linda is a fiscal watchdog who will help solve the budget debacle.”
More prime grade bullshit. We’ve already documented that Mrs. Ackerman appears to have no business experience at all. Years “balancing budgets”?!! What budgets would those be, Murph? Her own? Her only “experience” appears to be that she’s a board member for a debt collector. Ya know, Mark, those warm people who take away your house because you can’t pay for your cancer treatment anymore. She’s a fiscal watchdog? How would we ever know? She has no record of watching anything – except maybe the Maui sunsets and the lobbyists across the table at Spataro. Murphy – another zero.
At least the bozo Jon Dumitru was lucky enough to avoid having the Ackerman campaign stuff lies into his mouth – although he probably would have enjoyed it. Another public employee union member on a City Council. Another cypher.
“I am honored to receive the support of so many members of my community,” said Ackerman. “I believe this home-grown support will be instrumental in waging a successful campaign in the weeks ahead.”
The other day this blog ran a post on the meaning of Repuglicanism, and shared some honest-to-goodness examples. But we left out one of the biggest: Anaheim’s own Mayor, Curt Pringle. Pringle has been using his political contacts and trading on his position for years as a Sacramento lobbyist and string puller.
In case there was any doubt of Pringle’s status as a ‘Pug, the Ackerman campaign today crowed about getting Pringle’s endorsement for her carpetbagging run for the open 72nd Assembly seat. Well that figures. As a ‘Pug, Pringle is basically in it for what he can get out of it, and the constituents be damned. So what if the candidate lives in Irvine? Pringle can afford to be fast and loose with his endorsement, for what it’s worth. The 72nd includes only a small part of Anaheim. And he’s termed out of office next year.
One of our Friends sent of the tidbit from the Capitol Morning Briefing:
(Linda) Ackerman for Assembly 2009 (72nd AD), reception, donation levels $3900, $2000, 5:30 p.m., Spataro, 1415 L St. Contact: 714 731 2233.
It seems that the carpetbagging object of our disaffection is having a fundraiser tonight at Spataro. Never heard of the place? That’s because it’s in Sacramento – right across from the Capitol building. What a place for the squadron of capital lobbyists to descend, en mass, and start their, er, investment in Mrs. Ackerman.
Okay, if you want milk, you go find a cow (we’ll let you figure out which is which), but really, wouldn’t it have been nice if Mrs. Ackerman held an event in her own district, at least to show the flag?
Oh, that’s right. She doesn’t live in our district, and it looks like she intends to finance her way to Sacramento – from Sacramento; where Dick Ackerman met a lot of monied interests in his tenure up there.
But, Mrs. Ackerman, sooner or later you will actually have to show up in the 72nd!
Why is it so many supposedly conservative, small-government OC Republicans seem to make it their business to make as much money as they can off of the very entities that they are constantly railing against? For many of these miscreants the County government is nothing but a plantation to be worked, and worked over, as often as possible.
Take the case of former State Senator John Lewis, supposed arch-conservative Republican, who as a campaign consultant gets his boys elected and then as a lobbyist raises money for them – right before he puts the squeeze on them for a vote or two. His “firm” brags about being able to navigate the complex maze of government. Hmm. Seems like it’s to his advantage to keep government as big, complicated, and non-user friendly as possible. The list of other Republicans -like Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle, County GOP party Chairman Scott Baugh and his predecessor Tom Fuentes, who lobby this or that – is pretty long. We’ve even heard from one reliable source that the latter’s endorsement can be had – for 2500 bucks.
But back to Lewis. His most recent Lewis scam seems to be the utterly bizarre candidacy of one Laura Cunningham for the County Clerk job – as reported by Lewis himself on the Orange Juice blog here. We say bizarre because this idea is so weird that it barely deserves consideration. Except that what the hell, somebody’s got to win this election! Ms. Cunningham is the spouse of Matt Cunningham, a Lewis protege and collaborator; according to her on-line resume she also used to work for Lewis himself as a lobbyist at the County Hall of Admin – so the promotion of this “candidacy” makes sense. But this woman seemingly has no experience or record managing anything. Like her husband, she seems to have spent an adulthood spinning yarns for this or that Republican politician, or trying to help some clients “navigate” some public issue or other (i.e lobbying and PR); running a public agency? Nuh, uh.
Lewis may be afraid that his boy Tom Daly is getting cold feet about running to replace Chris Norby as Supervisor and wants him to nail his colors to the mast by endorsing a potential successor. Ultimately Lewis has nothing to lose by promoting an unqualified unknown. Who knows? Maybe the whole thing is just a ploy. On the other hand maybe Lewis figures this could be the start of a brilliant new political career – and ultimately a lobbying target in the future!
P.S. The funny thing about all of this is that everybody seems to be forgetting about Chris Norby who until a few days ago was also running for the Clerk job. If he gets beat by Ackerman in the 72nd Assy primary in November will he re-train his sights on preserving our vital records at the County Clerk’s office? And what would Lewis do at that point?
A couple of weeks ago a girlFriend forwarded an e-mail she received from County Clerk candidate Chris Norby – who also happens to be our termed-out 4th District County Supervisor. The e-mail and the website to which it directed us, made a big deal about all the money Norby had accumulated in his quest to “preserve our vital records.” We wrote about it here and here and here .
Although we understand the importance of the moolah, we have to say that we were struck by the unseemliness of this pitch. Could it really backfire?
The only reason Norby can command a fundraising advantage over his competitors is because he is a sitting county supervisor, a job that permits him to exert more than a little fundraising leverage on the squadron of lobbyists and interests that normally pour money into County political campaigns. The idea that Norby would get support from lobbyists for any other purpose is ridiculous. No lobbyists care who the County Clerk is and have no incentive to invest in one. And in any case nobody believes that Norby is better qualified to be a County Clerk than some guy picked at random walking down Main Street.
Seen in this light, suddenly the money advantage starts to look a lot like a political fire sale, a sale in which the proceeds will continually diminish as Norby’s second term winds down and lobbyists perceive that their “investments” in him have passed the point of diminishing returns.
Government shouldn’t be for sale – at least not seen to be for sale. At the very least the appearances of probity should be observed.
Round round get around
I get around
Get around round round I get around
I get around
Get around round round I get around
From town to town
Get around round round I get around
I’m a real cool head
Get around round round I get around
I’m makin’ real good bread
(with apologies to Brian Wilson)
On a previous post we regaled our Friends with the story of lobbyist and cash-conduit Steve Sheldon and his nautical fund raising effort on behalf of Sharon Quirk who later voted to approve his god-awful Jefferson Commons monstrosity.
What we didn’t share is that Sheldon is also a politician – President of The OC Water District and he’s having a “debt retirement” party!
We suppose he didn’t make enough money foisting the loathsome Jefferson Commons on us to pay off his debt himself. Instead he’s asking other lobbyists to do it! What’s really interesting is the names on the “Honorary Host Committee.” These are the politicians who get into the party for free, and thus are actually being lobbied by the irrepressible Sheldon as he high-steps for other lobbyists! See if you recognize any names on the list.
We note that our own Don Bankhead is on the list – another aye vote for JC (no, not Jesus Christ). At least Sharon Quirk had the good sense to stay off that list. With majorities of their city council members on it, we’d be really worried if we were residents of Garden Grove or Santa Ana.