Photo by Jack GouldApparently resorting to tactics that have already landed him in legal trouble, Huntington Beach City Councilman Dave Garofalo is asking supporters to contribute lots and lots of money to his defense fund because “the law does not set a limit on the amount you may contribute” and promising in return, “I will never forget your help.”
In fact, city law strictly limits contributions to such committees. And Garofalo's long memory of those who help him financially has already brought the HB politician to the brink of “financial ruin.”
The district attorney's office is investigating charges that Councilman Garofalo has consistently voted in favor of people and businesses that purchased advertising space in his various publications—the Local News, the Huntington Beach visitors guide and the chamber of commerce directory. Sources close to the DA's inquiry suggest serious charges are forthcoming.
In the face of that investigation, Garofalo says he has been “forced” to hire a lawyer to represent him before state and local authorities. “My situation; existing legal bills exceed $50,000,” he writes. “This cost could approach $200,000 in the fight to vindicate myself restoring my honorable reputation.”
Garofalo's June 10 plea for contributions to an organization called the Committee to Oppose the Recall came in an arbitrarily punctuated, one-page letter enlivened by medical, martial and theological euphemisms. Saying he has “been under siege by a radical element . . . for over two years,” Garofalo claimed he faces bankruptcy and suggested his health is in decline.
Some who received the letter dismissed it as the whining of a man who doesn't know how to separate personal gain from the public's business—until they considered Garofalo's beautifully rendered description of the apocalypse that would surely follow the end of his political career.
According to Garofalo, “hardened special-interest political enemies and business competitors” armed with “public attacks and ridicule,” “unacceptable behavior,” “vicious attacks,” “unjustified and vicious attacks,” and “continuous, professionally orchestrated attacks” might discourage others from entering “public office to finish the job.” Garofalo did not explain what precisely “the job” was and refused to return several phone calls from the OC Weekly. But it's clear that “the job” is important, as failure to finish it “would be a political victory tilting the delicate balance back to extremism.”
Garofalo's claim that supporters may contribute unlimited money to his Committee to Oppose the Recall is incorrect. Huntington Beach city clerk Connie Brockway says the city charter limits contributions to fight recall elections to $200 per person, $100 less than in general elections.
But that reveals another inconsistency: Garofalo has no Committee to Oppose the Recall registered with the California secretary of state. The identification number he provides in his letter (942017) is actually the account number for the Committee to Elect Dave Garofalo.
In any case, Garofalo is no longer fighting a recall. That threat officially expired on June 14, according to Brockway, although the woman behind the recall campaign, Sandra Cole, says her group “stopped working on it when the DA raided Garofalo's home and offices in April.”