Monday's Headlines & Surprises: Rhinotillexomania

  • Working the System: A California Democrat who recently won House approval of a bill that “would prevent federal legislators from placing spouses on their campaign payrolls has joined advocates for clean government in calling for the state to also prohibit the controversial practice,” reports Patrick McGreevy of the Times. Congressman Adam Schiff says that state representatives paid $1.12 million in campaign funds to spouses, sons, daughters and companies that employed them during the past seven years. Schiff told McGreevey, “When it's the spouse who gets campaign money, it goes directly into the officeholder's pocket, and that's a grievous conflict of interest.” State Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Orange County) sees no need for Schiff’s bill. No surprise. His wife, Linda, has pocketed $68,500 from Ackerman’s various campaign accounts funded, the Times reports, by “businesses wanting Ackerman's vote, including insurance-industry groups, pharmaceutical companies, unions, and casino operators California Commerce Club and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.” Campaign bank accounts belonging to state Senator Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) paid $98,000 in the past two years to Coronado Communications. The senator’s wife, Dianne, is a consultant to Coronado Communications. Not in this story but related: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Skipped Vietnam Combat Duty) pays his wife more than $55,000 per year from campaign contributions. All of the politicians insist money has absolutely no impact on their public service.
  • Rhinotillexomania: C.P. Smith, a crusty old editor at The Orange County Register, retires this week after 35 years of journalism. In a salute, his colleague Frank Mickadeit this morning hails Smith’s accomplishments, including once tricking killer/cult leader Charles Manson to sing to him from a pay phone at Pelican Bay State Prison. Beautiful. Mickadeit also says Smith—who gained some recent notoriety for picking his nose during the filming of a KOCE interview from Reg HQs—“engineered all sorts of coups in our then-heated competition with the Times.” (Yes, kids. There was a day almost 20 years ago when the Reg and Times battled.) It seems Smith, 53, is a victim of the Reg’s recent layoffs.
  • Christopher Cox for U.S. Attorney General! Not really. But now that the Alberto Disaster is over, the White House needs a replacement. Those of us who’ve had the honor of watching CC over the years know OC’s most famous résumé builder is twiddling his thumbs in deep thought: How? How? How? (In the past, he’s angled unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate, CIA boss, Speaker of the House, AG, the federal bench and VP.) Yes, Cox (pictured) has a lovely office as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. But come on, folks: A-frigging-G! Of course, it would be a fox-guarding-the-hen-house (no, that is a weasel that's pictured) scenario on par with the Gonzales era. If the departing AG is a country bumpkin, CC is a city slicker. Before joining Congress, Cox—then a corporate lawyer—personally advised fellow Republican William E. Cooper, Orange County’s biggest swindler of the elderly and senior citizens. But Cox has twisted his service to Cooper into an advantage over the years. It wasn’t that he aided a crook stealing old people blind. He says Cooper’s actions were deplorable but now he has valuable insight into the criminal mind.
  • Can You Say Oops? Joe and Mary Gordon left Orange County several years ago for the Inland Empire and a 4,000-square-foot home, but the move has proved disastrous, according to Christelyn Karazin of Reuters. Foreclosure signs dot their neighborhood and the Gordon’s home, for which they paid $741,000, is now worth less than $550,000. Money quote from the couple: “After what we’ve been through the past two years—short of Charles Manson moving in—it can’t be any worse.” It’s a good thing houses aren’t overpriced in OC.
  • Shut up and check out: Orange County’s Joan Todd had a dilemma: An office-supply store offered a great back-to-school sale on pencil sharpeners and pencils, but signs in the store read, “limit three per household.” Todd didn’t want to be limited, so she asked her husband to also max out with her. She asked The Right Thing advice columnist at The New York Times: Was this ethical? Follow the rules, the paper suggested. But this tale wasn’t so easy! While store signs said "per household," Internet advertising by the store used the term “per customer.” Now, what to do? NYT: Ask the manager. Dear NYT: That manager is the idiot who offered conflicting terms.

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