Campaign statements filed in December show MacLean’s election committee had raised $22,696 compared to the recall committee’s $19,170. The recall, documents show, has been largely funded by more than $12,000 in loans from Lee. MacLean’s campaign committee—which ostensibly is for his 2010 reelecton—is largely self-financed as well (more than $14,000, according to records). But MacLean has also won large donations from three separate trash-hauling firms and a coalition of developers.

Most significant, perhaps, is support from the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, who handed $1,500 to MacLean’s campaign last year. The union has also peppered Mission Viejo households with e-mails, slick mailings and cable-TV commercials calling the recall a “Trojan horse” effort to weaken law enforcement in the city—a charge recall activists loudly contest.

Neither Lee nor Tyler responded to the Weekly’s requests to speak for this article. But recall proponent Larry Gilbert—who has chronicled his view of the happenings in Mission Viejo at OrangeJuiceBlog.com—says he’s not too worried about the recall’s legal problems. He and other recall supporters point to a 2008 court case that invalidated the residency requirements for circulators of petitions supporting ballot measures. The principle behind that decision, Gilbert says, means the law that Lee may have broken by hiring Barron may be unconstitutional to begin with (MacLean dismisses that argument as “spin”). And while the involvement from the police union is a bit worrisome, Gilbert is hopeful about what will happen on Feb. 2. “In spite of everything that’s being spent, I think the recall will prevail,” Gilbert says.

MacLean, though, says he’s feeling better than ever about his political prospects. “I’m getting more confident every day,” he says. “[The recall supporters] have spent a year and a half pounding away at my reputation and character. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. But I will be vindicated by winning this recall and exposing them for the lies.”

skornhaber@ocweekly.com

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