I'm Here to Help My Friends

DA investigation: Garofalo mixed business and politics

DA investigators offered a first glimpse into evidence they say supports felony corruption charges against Huntington Beach City Councilman Dave Garofalo.

Much of the 86-page document released Wednesday retraces the nearly two-year investigation by the Weekly that charted the mixing of Garofalo's publishing business with his duties as a city official. But investigators have also raised questions about the role of Garofalo's family—his mother, two adult children and a brother—while demanding records from four banks going back to January 1996.

Central to the scandal is a single question: Did Garofalo abuse his position as a city official to help advertisers in his several publications? Advertisers in those publications frequently had business before the City Council. Garofalo insists he sold his publishing interests in January 1998 to Coatings Resources for $220,000, thereby avoiding some of the most serious charges.

But investigators found evidence suggesting the sale was a sham. "The few records received from the business for the year 1999 show David Garofalo paying his house payments, car payments, credit cards, his former political campaign chairman, and family members with business funds that were allegedly sold to Coatings Resources/Air Quality Consultants," the document declares.

The DA investigators identified 42 occasions where a debtor-creditor relationship existed between Garofalo and someone with a business interest before the council. Only twice did he vote against projects brought forward by his advertisers. The investigator's overview also cites an ongoing state Fair Political Practices investigation that may produce "in excess of 200" conflicts of interest.

One of the more dramatic revelations in the DA affidavit surrounds Garofalo's June 19, 2000 public declaration at City Hall that he had "completely divested myself of any responsibilities for any of the publishing businesses I built." But a phone message Garofalo left five months later with an advertiser—Pat Rogers, marketing director of the Huntington Beach Mall—contradicts that claim. In the taped message, which Rogers played back for investigators, Garofalo asks for prompt payment of a $500 bill—the quicker the better, he suggests, because he is concerned about scrutiny by the Fair Political Practices Commission and a one-year statute of limitations before he can vote again on advertisers' issues.

"The bottom line is, is as soon as you pay that bill, the sooner…a year would go by, from the date of that payment to…no…conflict," Garofalo told Rogers. "You know I'm here to help my friends, so let me know, and I can't help if I don't know the facts."

 
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