Buena Park police arrested Sunny Park, a Democrat running for city council, on Friday morning for allegedly stealing campaign signs calling her a “carpetbagger.” Officers responded to the scene near Malvern Avenue and Dale Street in District 1 where she’s challenging incumbent Republican Mayor Virginia Vaughn. “She was taken into custody without incident,” the department stated on its Facebook page, “and later released on a citation for unlawfully removing campaign signs.”
Cellphone footage accompanying the social media post showed the back seat of Park’s car filled “No Sunny Carpetbagger” signs fashioned in style made famous by the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog. Park is a residential newcomer to the city, having lived in Buena Park for about a year before deciding to run for council. The video went viral netting more than 18,000 views. It shows a man later identified as Victor Perrin by the Park campaign confronting the candidate while she contends that the signs themselves are illegal.
Ironically, Perrin was arrested in 2015 for taking down ballot proposition signs in Buena Park while threatening a man with a knife. He pleaded guilty to multiple misdemeanors last year including brandishing a weapon, receiving stolen property, and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. Perrin was sentenced to a 120 days in jail and three years probation.
Over the weekend, the Park campaign responded to her arrest. They contended that the signs failed to disclose any information about who paid for them and that Park took the signs to collect as evidence of a Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) violation. The campaign also released its own video of another Friday morning confrontation where Kenny Vaughn, Virginia’s husband, argued with Park in the street.
“You do not touch property we paid for,” Kenny said. “If you paid for it, why didn’t you put the FPPC number?” Park countered. “Show me that,” Kenny said before the video cuts off.
Similarly-styled signs accusing Anaheim Democrat Jordan Brandman of being a “Disney Carpetbagger” identify the Orange Juice Blog as having paid for them. The Park campaign argues that the FPPC under the Political Reform Act requires disclaimers on campaign advertisements like yard signs. The FPPC also states that while it’s recommended that signs have a committee ID number, it’s not legally required, albeit in a chart that “does not carry the force of the law.”
In another sign wars battlefront, the Park campaign is alleging that Kenny took campaign signs down himself. An Oct. 11 letter to the police department and city clerk from a business owner and Park supporter contends that a pro-Park sign had disappeared from the commercial property on or around Sept. 23. Security video allegedly shows Kenny on the premises at that time. The Park campaign claims the property owner tried to file a police report to no avail.
“As tough as campaigns can be, never would I believe that I would be followed and harassed by the husband of my opponent,” Park says in a statement. “This type of dirty politics has no place in our city and Mayor Vaughn should be ashamed of herself and the type of ugly campaign she’s running.”
Buena Park is electing its first council seats by district next month. Democrats are attempting a mini-blue wave in the city with the candidacies of Park, Connor Traut and Ian MacDonald. Park is running in the most heavily Korean-American district. Vaughn responded to her opponent’s arrest and citation with stern words. “I am shocked at Sunny Youngsun Park’s behavior,” she says. “She was caught on video in the act of stealing – arrested by the police and hauled away in handcuffs to jail. She is an attorney and is fully aware of the law.”
The Sunny Park sign wars shows that the campaign is growing more acrimonious as Election Day nears. In the meantime, Buena Park police are working to identify a man who allegedly helped the candidate take signs down that morning.
Mayor Vaughn’s reelection bid is endorsed by the Buena Park Police Officers Association who’ve contributed at least $13,038 to her campaign so far.