Carlos Bustamante: The Great Brown Flop

Disgraced Santa Ana councilman is the latest OC GOP Latino golden boy gone pendejo

Even in the notoriously low-expectation world of Orange County politics, Carlos Bustamante should've never had a chance. He was a man of limited intelligence, a Republican council member in overwhelmingly Democratic Santa Ana, and a pendejo who just never knew when to keep his mouth shut or his hands to himself. In 2008, Bustamante resigned from one California statewide commission seat and withdrew his nomination to another after making a sexist remark aimed at newly appointed Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. And on July 2, Orange County district attorney's office detectives arrested him on multiple counts of sex crimes, alleging that Bustamante had operated a reign of groping terror in his capacity as a manager for Orange County Public Works that involved his cornering frightened underlings in his office and doing everything from grabbing their breasts to wielding his baton, both literally (while talking about his law-enforcement connections to frighten his victims into silence) and perversely (masturbating in front of them with his, um, little baton).

And yet when Bustamante was led to the Orange County Jail that day, the biggest groans came not from his closest friends, but rather the leadership of the Republican Party of Orange County. Its problems with local Latinos are legendary, from poll guards to nasty anti-immigrant politics to the sad spectacle that was failed California gubernatorial and senator candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina downing tequila shots in 2010 during an awards ceremony in Newport Beach, a desperate attempt to prove the GOP could fiesta. That didn't stop local Latino leadership from spending thousands of dollars and numerous hours of mentorship over the years to groom Bustamante, to make him their future. Bustamante should've never had a chance for higher office, save for one factor: He was Latino.

So when news of Bustamante's arrest went national, the OC GOP leadership groaned. News reports kept referring to him as a former "rising star" in Republican circles, a continual reminder of party affiliation in a story that needed none. For a party that pretends ethnic politics doesn't exist (unless it's used as a wedge issue to get anti-Mexican Orange County voters to favor them over a Democrat) and professes to value individual merit above groupthink, it has continually, desperately tried to create over the past two decades a Great Brown Hope: a Latino Republican to whom it could point as proof it has evolved past its notorious reputation, a wab who might ascend to higher office and attract the Latino vote that now rules central Orange County and is marching across the rest of la naranja and the nation. But this effort has been similar to the Great Park: a fine idea in writing, one that finds initial success but ultimately proves an embarrassment that refuses to go away. Bustamante wasn't the party's first golden boy, but he just might be its last, the end to the GOP's sordid Manchurian Mexican experiment.

Bustamante, looking pretty
Bustamante, looking pretty
Jaramillo’s booking photo
Jaramillo’s booking photo

* * *

Bustamante had every chance to ascend in Orange County politics—he certainly fit the right profile. A son of Mexican immigrants, a graduate of Mater Dei High School, an Air Force veteran, a seemingly happily married father of two young children, Bustamante burst onto the political scene in 2004, comfortably winning his first electoral race to sit on the Santa Ana City Council and represent the ritzy Floral Park neighborhood. He did this despite running against the political machine of longtime Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido and with little GOP support at the time. But party elders quickly found religion: Not even a month after his election, a Republican insider was gushing to the Los Angeles Times that Bustamante was "the face of the Republican Party of the future. We are very excited about him moving to higher public office."

This wasn't the first time the county GOP swooned over a swarthy face. Twenty-five years ago, Gaddi Vasquez was appointed by then-Governor George Deukmejian to the Orange County Board of Supervisors; in 1988, he won conservative acclaim during the Republican National Convention when he attacked the idea that Latinos would automatically vote for Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis because he spoke Spanish. "He doesn't speak our language," said Vasquez—who always maintained he was a politician first, a "Hispanic" second—to the roar of the crowd. Political onlookers predicted the world for him—but Vasquez's political career came crashing down with the 1994 county bankruptcy, a political embarrassment that exiled him from public office for good.

As did Vasquez, Bustamante tried to deflect such expectations, claiming he only wanted to serve his constituents, but it was false modesty. In 2006, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Bustamante to the California Council on Criminal Justice. By then, Republican handlers were prepping Bustamante to run for an open supervisorial seat. He lost badly to Janet Nguyen in 2007, despite scoring the support of three supervisors and the influential, deep-pocketed Lincoln Club, but that didn't stop Schwarzenegger from appointing him to the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission. There was even talk of having Bustamante's identical twin, Alfonso—a psychologist who's openly mocked in Santa Ana for driving around town in a white Bentley—join him on the Santa Ana City Council.

Alas, it wasn't to be. Despite the crude remark against Hutchens, Bustamante won a 2008 re-election campaign and participated through 2010 in GOP politics, hosting a fund-raiser for former state Senator Van Tran's futile race against Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. But by then, Bustamante was ready to follow his Great Brown Hope destiny. Already, rumors of sexual impropriety swirled around him, ones Republicans always conveniently ignored (after Bustamante's arrest, former Santa Ana councilman Tom Lutz would tell The Orange County Register, "This is all very shocking to me. In saying that, of course I knew him as [a] flirt with the girls but thought that was just show and that's where it ended"). Bustamante survived two county internal investigations in 2011 into allegations he was a pervert before finally resigning—although not his Santa Ana council seat. Throughout this year, Bustamante nevertheless showed up around town, trying his best to appear chipper but no longer the arrogant cabrón with a once-bright future.

It's a pathetic path that most closely mirrors not Vasquez's career, but that of another OC GOP Great Brown Hope: George Jaramillo, the former assistant sheriff to disgraced Mike Carona. Jaramillo also had a rags-to-riches story his supporters trotted out whenever possible. As with Bustamante, Jaramillo had no real experience other than his ethnicity (he was Bolivian). And Jaramillo was also a known pig with rumors of sexual impropriety swirling around him. It remains to be seen if Bustamante will follow Jaramillo's path to jail.

This story appeared in print as "The Great Brown Flop: Disgraced Santa Ana councilman Carlos Bustamante is the latest OC GOP Latino golden boy gone pendejo."

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30 comments
Albert Gomez
Albert Gomez

Your ignorant if you immediately believe what the Police Report anymore. Look at the past few years in OC law enforcement corruption! I mean we have Westminster PD officer arrested for kidnapping/rape/robbery - OCSD Corona, Fullerton Officers arrest, La Palma Lieutenant arrested for boot legging DVD'S, OCSD Deputy killing unarmed marine in front of his two kids, and on and on. The days of simply trusting and believing what Law Enforcement reports are a thing of the past.

Daniel Heredia
Daniel Heredia

Carlos was never a great brown hope or, a politician. He is and will always be a "perro" unless he's castrated. Most men of all colors in power regardless of party line have the problem that they think they are God's gift to women. Carlos & those caught in sex scandals just didn't know when to stop.

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

What a joke to even consider Carlos Bustamante as the next great whatever. The pendejo has enough charisma to gloss over his intellectual defficiencies but that is exactly what the GOP wants: a token negro, chino, or wab that can be claimed as their own that they can lamely try to sell to the rest of dumbed down white, negro, chino, and wab Amerikkka. Hey, Carlitos, I guess you didn't get your way this time, huh? Seriously vato, did you think you were God's gift to women by preying on your female subordinates? Did you miss the required Sexual Harassment training, pendejo? Did you enjoy claiming your sorry ass 'hometown' hero status just because you went to the Air Force? I remember your sorry ass ROTC days in high school- HA!. Did you enjoy your celebrity for attending hometown Mater Fucken Dei? While there, did you learn your predatory ways from Father Michael 'Sundusky' Harris? Did you and your lame ass twin brother roll ever up in his Rolls Royce along 4th Street to try and impress and pick up on vieja wabs? What a bunch of fucken comic morons you and your pendejo carnal must be. If you employed a Mexi maid in your Floral Park refuge, did you ever poke the poor soul ala Arnold? How many times did you claim traditional family values, pinche pendejo? How many times did you brag about your shennanigans with your good ol' boy hypocrite buddies? Is there a sex video out there catching you in the act? Will you be selling it? Will you be finding religion in the near future otra vez? Will I see your hand passing your phone number from one bathroom stall to the next the next time I am taking a mean ass frijole dump at the Tres Estrellas bus depot? Have you called up Gaddie Vasquez yet to inquire on an avail Peace Corp post in, say, Buttfuck, Egypt? Are you gonna be allowed to hang that Marco Rubio picture above your head when you go to the pinta? Will you be playing Soap On A Rope while in the pinta? While inside, will you be claiming the Eme, the Aryan Brotherhood, or the Mandingo Warriors? Either way, they always have a field day with a vato with your rap sheet. Vato, how much is this gonna co$t you? Dude, for a fraction of that amount you and I could have borrowed Al's ranfla, driven south to the Coahuila, and had a field day taking advantage of defenseless viejas just the way you like. Afterwards we could have celebrated by dining at trendy and expensive Mision 19 and spending as much SanTana taxpayer money as possible. Man, you could have passed it off as another expense just like when you tried to do with that so-called educational seminar you attended, te acuerdas? Anyway, we all like to kick a person when they are down. In this case, I am just doing it to you figuratively. But, vato, don't some of those viejas that you gropped, banged, or harassed have Mexi husbands or cholo boyfriends? And you know how we Mexis take to a Sancho, que no? I mean, if it was my vieja you harassed, all I can say is keep me away from my tequila bottle and the Tijuas-purchased velvet painting depicting Bruce Lee in action away from so that I would not have unholy thoughts about you. My advice: take the first T-Rex offer and get your nalgas into the pinta ASAP. By claiming celebrity status, you will be better secured inside the can rather than in your Floral Park adobe. For protection at home, I guess you could always hire some paisas from the Edinger Street Homey Depot to help you dig up a moat. Vato, Im just having fun here (hahahaha....en espanol: jajaja). Let's have a beer one of these fine days. I will let you reminisce.

Olancha395
Olancha395

Gustavo, this is an excellent article. Find a person with some charisma, wind him up and point him where to go and along the way make sure they get a high paying job - never mind whether they are qualified or not - and bingo - they have so far self destructed. Good 20 year history of failed attempts.

Michael Nuño
Michael Nuño

This loser gives us a bad name but when you think of it it's just politics

Luie Carrion
Luie Carrion

Democrats aren't perfect either by any means but man do Republicans have them beat by a long shot. It's always republicans doing the craziest ish behind closed doors and they suck at it because they always get caught. They talk all that ish and suggest how everyone else should live and so many of them have the biggest tails to be stepped on.

Streets
Streets

Bustamante is a Scum-Bags, Scum-Bag not only did he f- up his own life but of his victims and his boss Jess Carbajal.......This story is not over, Hey Gus why don't you look into the story of Jess Carbajal a little more....I think you will find he was a sacrificial lamb, so that the CEO could save his skin.

Susan Enstad Morris
Susan Enstad Morris

So easy for ignorant people to blame this sleaze ball's political stance and not the fact that he's just a sleaze ball. Democrats are just as bad. " the devil made me do it" don't cut it anymore people.

Peyton Farquhar
Peyton Farquhar

Bustamante is the Hispanic version of George Bush the younger.

Sean Henschel
Sean Henschel

@Enisco...stay off the crack and use those same analytical skills to judge the current adminstration with an open and honest mind..look beyond the bias racist crap.

Maricruz Barajas-Aguilera
Maricruz Barajas-Aguilera

so sad this idiot gives us bad name...chingao! its bad enough the struggle we have and now this idiot embarrassing the raza like this...geez!

Eric Enciso
Eric Enciso

All i took away from the article is that the GOP wanted to fake out a group of voters. They wanted it so bad that they wasted tequilla on a white woman and groomed a mexican horn dog with limited intellegence for office. Sounds like a transparant and honest political party. ...well it's not like the GOP has a history of these schenanigans «-----(sarcastic tone)

Sean Henschel
Sean Henschel

TJ Weekly turns on their own...if they don't join the Liberal tax thieves of the mandated party..bring in more illegal alien voters and corrupt us some more.

Sean Henschel
Sean Henschel

@Tovar...that attitude is exactly why America is in decay.

Sean Henschel
Sean Henschel

don't blame the party..blame the pendejo person...yeah Carlos. Biased fuckin libs...lets' blame the race or the person for actions....

New slang for locals
New slang for locals

Bust a mante = to make an illegal, crude move on women. I was careful, I didn't bust a mante on that girl at work.

Don Mexico
Don Mexico

what a pendejo. he threw his career and his life away for some pussy. seriously, keep that shit in your pants, carlos. btw, como siempre i love reading your articles, gustavo.

C337cmdr
C337cmdr

HEY, As he follows Ex-Sheriff Carona's path to jail, will he receive pension and retirement funds, health insurance for him and his family, among other benefits that he "earned" while in office like Carona and others?

CincoSeisDos
CincoSeisDos

Bustamante is a creep. Always was, and always will be. I worked at a pub downtown last summer, the guys there went so far as to get a picture with Carlos, have him SIGN it, then hang it above "his" booth. Everytime that man walked in he expected to sit in HIS spot, with HIS entourage and be treated like royalty. He was rude, demanding, and other girls would try to avoid walking by his table because we knew there'd be comments and stares. Did anyone do anything about it? Nope. I guess mingling with Santa Ana's best and brightest was more important.

Mario
Mario

With the exception of the endorsement that Carlos gave or the money he received from the Lincoln Club would anybody be able to guess that Carlos was a Republican. Was he an active member in the Republican party activities, circles, or speaking arrangements other than registered Republican? He didn't seem like he was the Great Brown Hope champion of the GOP, like Vasquez, Rubio, who else??? From what I read years ago the Lincoln Club is not similar in many stances as the OC GOP. They are pretty much wealthy business people who understand the need for immigration. Carlos didn't seem to vote differently from his democrat colleagues, didn't get caught up in the wedge issues that drove Republican votes, immigration,affirmative action, etc. He didn't come across as an ideologue or one of those party line obstructionist supporters. Nevertheless, he allegedly did many very inappropriate and stupid things at his worksite and will pay dearly(As he should) As for Jaramillo, he was never considered a great brown hope. He pissed of many officers at the way he was promoted at the GGPD, including many Sheriffs who didn't think he earned the under-sheriff title. I have never heard him every speak, always in the Corona days following him one step behind. Interesting though that many latinos actually supported electing Corona/Jaramillo over Walters and then over Hunt. Sure, it might have been one of those the best of the worst choices though.

Chingy
Chingy

Good analysis of racial politricks. But you have to admit the repukes have no monopoly on pendejismo. Just look at Mayor Tony Villar. Multiple failures at the bar exam, banging hawt TV anchors, and he'd probably still get la vota raza to be re-elected.

sputnik
sputnik

Great mud-slinging, salud. [tongue in cheek] - it ultimately all comes down to your character and not the color of your skin or ethnicity [to quote some one far more eloquent]

Todd Sputnik, Jr.
Todd Sputnik, Jr.

Actually, it doesn't really come down to the "color or your skin or ethnicity," rather it is your right-wing party affiliation and proclivity to wear DEPENDS Adult undergarments (available at Costco).

 
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