Orange County Republican Party's Anti-Labor Union Edict Fails Again--This Time In Irvine

A Republican independent expenditure campaign committee violated a heavily publicized Orange County Republican Party edict against joining forces with public employee unions by aiding the 2014 re-election of Irvine GOP city council candidate Jeff Lalloway.

According to records at the Secretary of State's office, the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association contributed $5,000 to the California Taxpayer Protection Committee on October 22, 2014, the same day the group reported spending $42,914 on independent expenditures for Lalloway.

Emails obtained by the Weekly also show that Lalloway, an appointed Orange County Fire Authority board member, told Jon Fleischman, a prominent Republican activist who managed the political action committee, that the firefighters had endorsed his candidacy.

Fleischman, who has made no secret of his loathing of public employee unions over the years, then contacted Tony Bedolla, a longtime firefighter's union boss, for a contribution and supportive quote to be included in election literature.

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He also provided Bedolla the JP Morgan Chase bank account information for his PAC.

Bedolla confirmed Fleischman approached him for the funds and the union, which had historically aided Lalloway rival Larry Agran, a liberal Democrat, agreed because "Jeff is good on public safety" and has impressive "credentials."

Fleischman did not respond to questions for this story.

This morning, Lalloway told the Weekly that he had nothing to do with the contribution and didn't agree with some of the campaign spending done on his behalf.

"I think it's interesting that someone is trying to smear me and hold me responsible for something I had absolutely no control over," said Lalloway. "A union could make a contribution to an IE (independent expenditure group) without my knowledge and somehow I'm responsible for that? That makes no sense."

He noted that other Irvine Republicans like Christina Shea and Steven Choi have won endorsements from a local police union in past campaigns.

(Fleischman's PAC also made 2014 expenditures for Republican candidates Matt Harper in Huntington Beach ($5,179) and Scott Peotter in Newport Beach ($3,000), according to campaign finance records.)

Republicans can't accuse Democrats or unions for creating the controversy.

In 2010, the Orange County Republican Party attacked public employee unions for creating a pension funding nightmare in California and, as a way to cripple their influence over government treasuries, banned party backed candidates from benefiting from any financial support from labor organizations.

The edict became known as the "Baugh Manifesto," named for then-party boss Scott Baugh, a corporate lobbyist and one of Fleischman's longtime closest allies.

At it's enactment, many of the GOP faithful praised the move, while others saw it as a hamfisted way to harm a single, 2010 candidate, Bill Hunt, a veteran deputy seeking to replace Baugh-backed Mike Carona, who was convicted of corruption and sent to federal prison for more than six years, as sheriff.

Hunt is a Republican--a very conservative one, in fact--but he is also fiercely independent, a trait party bosses abhor. The Baugh Manifesto went into effect while Hunt, a veteran sheriff's deputy and former chief of police in San Clemente, was favored by the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, whose coffers have influenced elections for decades in the county. Sandra Hutchens, a Los Angeles Democrat turned OC Republican, won that election and remains in office.

The Manifesto quickly became a paper tiger in other races. Janet Nguyen took $4,000 from the firefighter's union in her winning 2014 Republican state senate campaign against Democrat Jose Solorio. Baugh ordered the money return before the election. Nguyen and her campaign manager, Dave Gilliard, refused.

Though Democrats get blamed for coziness with union bosses, it was an all Republican- Orange County Board of Supervisors that voted in 2001 to hand the deputies' union one of the most lucrative government contracts in California. It allows officers to retire at the age of 50 and collect 90 percent of their annual salaries--or more, after pension inflation schemes--for the remainder of their lives. Though a 60-year-old convicted felon, Carona, for example, receives a taxpayer funded $220,000 pension each year.

Back in Irvine, political observers are wondering if Republicans can maintain a city council majority--now 4 to 1--after the 2016 campaign. Presidential election years always increase voter turnout for Democrats and Irvine Republicans are now fractured, a scenario that must have Agran and his robotic sidekick Beth Krom delighted by the possibilities. At the core of the internal GOP fight is a bitter personal rift between Lalloway and Shea, who--to put it politely--are not pals.

Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.


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