No Ace with Taxes: Santa Ana Mayor Don Papi Pulido and His Family Muffler Shop

Not scheduled for gentrification
Not scheduled for gentrification

There is perhaps no business more fundamental to an Orange County politico's creation myth than Ace Muffler Shop, on First Street in downtown SanTana and belonging to the family of SanTana Mayor Don Papi "Miguel" Pulido. It was the city's planned demolishing of Ace Muffler through eminent domain that spurred the young Don Papi to enter politics in 1986. It was the fight to preserve Ace Muffler that earned Don Papi Pulido the coalition that elected him to the city council that year and later on toward the mayoral seat in 1992. And it's the muffler shop that the now-magisterial Don Papi--who now lives in a ritzy estate in SanTana's ritzy Floral Park neighborhood--continues to use as proof of his working-class origins.

But the business--technically owned by the Pulido Family Trust, of which Don Papi is invested in per his statement of economic interest filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission last month--has recently proven to be a burden. We previously wrote about how Ace Muffler was hit with over $14,000 in tax liens in 2003; those were settled, along with a $8,639 lien in 2007 and $13,838 in personal California state taxes that Pulido and his wife were dinged for in 2005 but paid off a year later.

Those ignominies pale to the embarrassment that currently afflicts Ace Muffler: Not only does the Pulido negocio currently face a tax lien of $10,789, but its business license has been suspended since September 2 of last year. Read that again: California Secretary of State records show Ace Muffler is operating without a business license. Ain't that against the law?

This isn't the first time Ace Muffler had its business license revoked; it previously happened in 2004, but was reinstated within a year. And it very well could be that the Pulidos have rectified this situation, although Secretary of State records are current as of last week. We'd love to hear Don Papi Pulido's side of the story, but he hasn't returned our calls since...well, ever. Feel free to leave a comment here, Miguel!

By the way, tax records show that Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle and Irvine councilmember Larry Agran, the two men whom along with Don Papi Pulido form "The Tres Caballeros" of local political infamy, have never been dinged for tax liens. Not once. Ever.

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