Sunday, July 04, 2010

Did Republicans work for Juan Vargas to sabotage the Democratic primary?

I can't help thinking that it was very odd that Juan Vargas, who had so few Democratic endorsements, apparently got so many Democratic votes. Or did he? Democrats allow Independents to vote in the Democratic primary. Did some people ask for Democratic ballots to sabotage the primary? I also wonder why the post office delivered ballots late to the Registrar. Did someone at the Registrar intentionally delay the delivery?

Back before he made it official that he was best friends with insurance companies (by accepting a lucrative position in an insurance company), Juan Vargas was already raising doubts about his integrity. Here's an article from 2006 about Juan Vargas, followed by an article about San Diego County Office of Education's Diane Crosier that was written about a week ago.

Lawmaker opposed homeowners' efforts
By Bill Ainsworth
March 4, 2006

Assemblyman Juan Vargas, criticized by some homeowners for opposing consumer-oriented changes in insurance laws, accepted nearly $2,000 for a golf trip and more than $500 in meals from the insurance industry last year, state documents show.

Major insurance companies, including Allstate, Hartford Life and Prudential Financial, paid for Vargas to play golf at exclusive courses, including Pebble Beach, last September, according to state records.

Vargas is chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee, which oversees legislation affecting the industry...

I am trying to figure out how Juan Vargas was able to be taken seriously as a candidate for public office after his shameless personal gain from insurance companies during and directly after serving as insurance committee president of the California Assembly. My conclusion is that some people and institutions are as corrupt as he is. Here are the endorsements he boasted about on his website:
The United Domestic Workers of America, AFSCME Local 3930

United Nurses Associations of California

Crime Victims United

Coachella Valley Teachers Association

Desert Sands Unified School District Teachers Association

Palm Springs Unified School District Teachers Association

California National Guard Veterans Association

San Diego City Firefighters, Local 145

CDF Firefighters, Local 2881 “California’s Fire Department”

Black Police Officers Association of San Diego

Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO

AFSCME, Local 3299, University of California Workers

Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, San Diego

Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, retired

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, retired

Senator Ron Calderon

Senator Waddie Deddeh, retired, Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City, San Diego

Senator Joe Simitian

Senator Leland Yee

Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally, retired, former Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus

Steven Hernandez, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Coachella

Emmanuel Martinez, Council Member, City of Coachella

John Minto, Board Member (ret.), San Diego Police Officers Association

The list of endorsements for Mary Salas was huge, many times the size of that of Juan Vargas, and included many more elected officials. So how did Juan Vargas manage to get approximately the same number of votes as Salas in the 2010 California Senate 40th district election? I will continue to ponder this question as I mourn the fact that so many Democrats are either ignorant of or tolerant of shocking and inappropriate acceptance of insurance company largess by Juan Vargas.

There Is a Free Lunch, and They're Not Telling You About It
June 27, 2010
Voice of San Diego

Top employees at the San Diego County Office of Education have been allowed to avoid reporting gifts despite a California law that is supposed to ensure that the public can peek at who is paying for meals, handing out baseball tickets or giving other gifts to influential government employees.

The office has allowed employees to report their income without revealing gifts, an exception that could obscure important information about who is wining and dining public officials. California law says that gifts are income, no different than the other earnings that top employees already must report on annual statements of economic interests.

The Fair Political Practices Commission urged the County Office of Education to change its guidelines after being alerted to the issue by earlier this month. Depending on how long the office has failed to report gifts, its employees may need to report gifts they received years ago. Office spokesman Jim Esterbrooks said the agency is updating its guidelines to comply.

Gifts have played a role in a contentious lawsuit filed by a former employee that alleges free meals contributed to a "culture of corruption" at the agency that steered County Office of Education business to specific law firms.

For instance, employees who help oversee legal work for school districts regularly accepted free lunches from an attorney who is frequently hired by their department, according to testimony by employee John Vincent taken as part of the lawsuit. Attorney Dan Shinoff usually paid for the meals, which happened more than once a month, Vincent said.

Diane Crosier, who directs the office's risk management department, was one of the employees that accepted the meals, according to the testimony. Her department controls millions of dollars in legal work for school districts across the county. While Crosier does not decide which attorneys to assign to each legal case, she oversees Rick Rinear, the worker who does. Rinear also went to lunch with Shinoff from time to time, along with other employees, Vincent said in the deposition this year.

Crosier is required to reveal her economic interests to the public because she helps make decisions with a financial impact for a public agency. The County Office of Education does not require Rinear or the other employees to do so.

California law typically requires employees like Crosier to reveal gifts worth $50 or more from a single source annually, so frequent free lunches would likely need to be reported.

Yet Crosier did not report any lunches with Shinoff...

No comments: