By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
The FBI files indicate that Fuentes worked in 1990 for the agency as a likely unpaid mole against a Buddhist religious official—his identity was redacted—in Fuji City, Japan. After a visit to the man's estate, Fuentes met with an agent and described what he saw.
"The compound was comprised of 80 acres of land," he reported, according to agency notes that included several, wholly redacted pages. "[REDACTED] compound had many signs of wealth. Some of the artwork in [REDACTED] compound was done in gold. . . . The compound was divided into different areas. Each area was established for a certain purpose. For example, there was a water course running through part of the compound. The water was supposed to have some kind of curative powers. . . . In one area of the compound, there was a hall of Buddha."
Though seemingly meaningless, the brief, international, cloak-and-dagger episode must have delighted Fuentes. He was, after all, more than a charming party emcee, hardball influence peddler, sly bagman on the prowl for his cut on government deals and relentless dogma barker. He actually once worked as a spy.
This column appeared in print as "The Man With the Golden Tongue: Once-classified FBI files reveal ex-Orange County GOP boss Tom Fuentes snitched for the feds and sought foreign lobbying deals."