Petty Politics, Dark Money and Downright Deception

By: 
Stephen Downing

In his most recent column in this newspaper, Publisher Jay Beeler wrote: “The silly season is upon us wherein the Wannabees and the I-Got-Mine Politicians start flinging mud at each other while bragging about who endorsed them. Who cares?

"All that I care about is having honest, ethical people serving us in the various government positions.”

In the last week leading up to the primary some of those mudslingers came out of their holes and showed us who they are – by proxy.

Petty Politics

If you haven’t seen him whiz past you somewhere in Long Beach in the big electric golf car, he named Perseverance – after watching Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings – you don’t get out much.

Franklin Sim’s says the nature of Perseverance and its openness makes him more accessible during his mayoral campaign.

“Somebody waves at me I can just pull right over. Talk a bit or give them a ride a few blocks and talk on the way. It’s my way of getting in touch, finding out what the people are really looking for in their next mayor. “

The one problem with Sims unique personal touch is the fact that Perseverance can persevere only so far.

Sim’s has to “keep her bars up” while campaigning, meaning she has to be re-charged in order to get him to the next event or, at the end of a long day – home.

Last Saturday he was in my neighborhood when Perseverance signaled that she didn’t have the bars to get him to the next event.

So, he swung into my alley, landed on our garage parking apron, called and we threw the charging cord over the fence, plugged in and had what turned out to be a not-so-nice chat.

About a month ago Sims was in need of a charge and pulled up out front, where we plugged in.

So, I assumed there was no parking in front, because there is nothing like good exposure by parking where folks can see all the signs on Perseverance that announce the Franklin Sims candidacy.

But when we went out to my front patio, I saw there was plenty of parking – right in front of the house.

“So, why did you park in the alley,” I asked.

Sim’s gave me a half smile and said, “I’m being stalked by another mayoral candidate. She made a complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). “

“For what?” I asked.

He shrugged, “Because people like you have let me charge Perseverance at their homes and I didn’t report it as a donation to my campaign.

He had to repeat it twice before it sank in.

My response: “Of course FPPC laughed her out the door?”

“Nope”, he answered. “They notified me they are going to conduct a full investigation.”

Indeed, it is the silly season. But also, not so silly.

Dark Money

On Friday, May 27, I received a mailer – among a dozen others to hit my mailbox – from one of the dark money outfits that told us in a blazing graphic layout that City Auditor Laura Doud was the queen of auditing in every respect known to man and that her challenger, Dan Miles – had no auditing experience. None. Zip. Nada.

The Beachcomber reported on the formation of the Doud dark money committee in our last issue. They called themselves “The Committee to Support Laura Doud for Long Beach City Auditor 2022

The so-called “independent committee” was able to cobble together $42,500 from Brian “Bino” McMann, an asphalt salesman from Huntington Beach, Roland Sponberg, CEO of the WKS Restaurant Group, The Virgil Sponberg Trust, located in Cypress, and Michael Gagan, a partner in the lobbying firm Kindel Gagan and LA resident – who Doud paid $1.5 million in “consultant fees” from taxpayer coffers over the last 15 years – for which she remains the subject of an investigation currently under criminal review by the district attorney.

Objecting to the “deceptive political mailing” the Dan Miles campaign issued a press release calling on Doud to “disavow” the mailer, stating that it “intentionally misleads voters by falsely stating that Miles lacks auditing experience and implies that he is not qualified.”

In his press release Miles said, “There is no place in Long Beach for misleading attacks paid for by outside money, with questionable motives.

If the city auditor cannot be trusted to run an honest reelection campaign and be truthful with the voters, then how can the people put their trust in her,” said Miles.

“The truth is that my 35-years of experience includes more than a decade of hands-on work conducting both public and private sector audits, that included some very large operations such as the California State University system and Pepsi. My professional background speaks for itself.”

To add salt to the wound, the “independent committee” didn’t give Miles – or the city clerk – the legally required advance notice that they were spending their money on the dark money hit piece.

The Beachcomber has been unable to determine if BBK – the law firm hired by City Attorney Charles Parkin – has filed charges against the committee for this dereliction.

Downright Deception

Probably the cleverest – and downright dirty – mailer of this election season landed in the mailboxes of registered Democrats on Saturday. It came from the dark money PAC that has changed its name four times over the past few election seasons.

Today they call themselves the “Neighbors for a Better Long Beach" and their registration tracks a phone number to a software company whose principal is former 3rd District Councilman Gary DeLong.’

The donors behind this one – without coordination with the candidate they support of course – targeted Gerrie Schipske, candidate for city attorney for their deceptive takedown.

The dark money mailer – sent only to registered Democrats – alleged that Schipske is supported by the Long Beach Area Republican Party, implying she sought their endorsement.

Schipske, who has been honored by Presidents Clinton and Obama and who once served as the Executive Director of the Orange County Democratic Party, described the mailer as “as sad example of the “self-loathing of the contributors who paid for the mailer, who believe that the worst damage they can do to my candidacy is to say that Republican voters support me.’

The flip side of the mailer – paid for by Republicans and big money ($25,000) from the LB Police Officers Association (all omitted as supporters on the mailer) – featured Schipske’s opponent – Dawn McIntosh, Charlie Parkin’s handpicked status-quo replacement – as being the darling of the Democratic Party.

Self-loathing indeed.

Schipske, like Dan Miles, also pointed to the fact that the ““Neighbors for a Better Long Beach"” broke the law by failing to provide the legal notifications required prior to putting their hit piece in the mail.

Perserverance

So, while we wait to see if Parkin’s hired guns, BBK, brings charges against the dark money PAC’s for violating the legally required mailer notifications – and to see if the electorate sees though the deception – we shall also await a visit from the FPCC inquiring about us helping Sims get the bars up on Perseverance.

When the FPCC investigator eventually knocks on my door I’ll invite him to inspect our solar panels on the roof.

Getting her bars up didn’t cost a cent.

 

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police. stephen.beachomber@gmail.com

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Comments

DIRTY is expected from the "Long Beach Citizens for Good Government," group led by disgraced former 3rd District Councilman Gary DeLong which is sending dark money mailers claiming Schipske is supported by DeLong's own Long Beach Area Republican Party. Such behavior is anticipated from trust fund baby Delong whose ego never recovered after the citizens in his own City Council district did NOT vote for DeLong during his run for Congress. In fact, NO Council district in his own city voted for him. DeLong has been consigned to irrelevancy where he continues to lash out at former political opponents from the safety of darkness.

The criminal organization that is the LBC supported by the LBPD and city attorney will never stop until the voters speak up and vote them out!!

Before the complaints there were numerous cases of ballot designation challenges based on rules that were made up by BB&K, the city’s go-to private attorneys.

When all is said and done I think we will see an unprecedented number of FPPC complaints, all filed against grassroots challengers. I was the subject of one of those as well as a fellow candidate in my district. Curiously, the complaint was redacted but the complainant’s handwriting is clearly visible.

They are desperate, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a hit piece came out against each of us challengers in the next few days.

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