Carl Kemp, Long Beach Pot Lobbyist, Charged With Filing False Tax Returns

Carl Kemp, a well-known Long Beach political lobbyist and former city council candidate, has been charged with failing to disclose several years worth of cash payments from marijuana dispensaries on his tax returns.

Kemp, 43, made headlines a few years ago as director of the Long Beach Collective Association, which represented marijuana collectives that had won a controversial 2010 lottery to apply for licenses to operate in the city. Now, Kemp stands charged with falsifying his tax returns by not reporting $754,783 in cash payments from his clients between 2007 and 2012. He faces up to three years in prison and owes the Internal Revenue Service $210,661 in back taxes and penalties.

As a registered lobbyist in the city, Kemp did not hide his work on behalf of marijuana collectives. However, he appears to have suffered from the same poor judgement that plagued another political consultant who lobbied city hall on behalf of marijuana collectives, Richard Brizendine, who last year was sentenced to three months in prison for laundering money on behalf of John Melvin Walker, a.k.a. ‘Pops’ of San Clemente, who secretly operated a ring of dispensaries in Southern California, including Belmont Shore Natural Care in Long Beach. (In 2013, Walker was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for selling $25 million worth of marijuana while failing to pay $4 million in taxes). 

After a lawsuit filed on behalf of dispensaries that did not win in the lottery successfully argued that city officials had no right under state law to license marijuana collectives, the city reversed its position and banned pot clubs. As theWeekly reported in a lengthy investigative report on the lottery, winners included numerous dispensaries that had been created on paper for the sole purpose of stacking the odds, with several clubs linked to a prominent businessman and former president of the Downtown Long Beach Business Association. 

In a public post to his Facebook page yesterday, Kemp acknowledged making errors in his work on behalf of cannabis clients. “I made some irresponsible mistakes and am prepared to deal with the consequences,” he wrote. “I regret the impact that those mistakes are having on my family, however I never misrepresented anyone that trusted me enough to advocate for their issues. My love and devotion for my family, friends and city has not, and never will change.”

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