If there's an invisible hand guiding Long Beach's April 8 primary election, its true color is blue.
More than any other entity in the city, the Long Beach Police Officers Association (LBPOA) is flooding local candidates with cash, most notably incumbent city attorney Charles Parkin. Last year, Parkin replaced outgoing city attorney Robert Shannon, who managed the city's benighted medical marijuana lottery, which led to a successful lawsuit against the city filed by Parkin's competitor, city attorney candidate Matt Pappas.
Despite the fact that Parkin was never elected as city attorney, campaign literature created and funded by the LPBOA boldly (and incorrectly) urged voters to "re-elect" him to the seat. This has led to yet another lawsuit by Pappas, this time against Parkin himself. (Pappas, who was denied a business permit by the city, also claims that local prosecutors have stated in open court that his law firm, which represents various cannabis collectives suing the city, is currently under investigation for drug trafficking, which he claims is an unfounded smear tactic).
Seemingly deliberate claims that Parkin is an elected incumbent aside, the sheer amount of cash that the LBPOA has spent so far is stunning. Campaign statements reviewed by the Weekly show that the cops have spent a whopping $186,376.03 in the race so far.
According to the LBPOA's March 21 report, the group paid out $1,536 each to fund slate mailers for Parkin, as well as city council candidates Lena Gonzales, Suzi Price (an Orange County homicide prosecutor), Roberto Uranga and Carl Kemp.
If the name Carl Kemp sounds familiar, it should. He is the former lobbyist for the Long Beach Collectives Alliance, a group of marijuana dispensaries that sought to operate in the city, and specifically for Belmont Shore Natural Care, which turned out to be part of a multi-county network of collectives owned by John Melvin Walker, aka "Pops," who will spend the next two decades in federal prison for drug trafficking.
On March 11, LPBOA reported slate mailer payments of $596.80 and $564.33 to Kemp, a payment of $4,481 and $2,089 for Price, and a payment of $1,708 and $3,637 to Parkin.
Before that, on Feb. 26, the LBPA listed slate mailer expenditures for Price ($1,932), Kemp ($1,656), Uranga ($1,260) and Richardson ($924). And then on 2/13 their report shows expenditures for Parkin at $924, $1,260 and $1,656.
Besides the fact that the cops are funding slate mailers for Kemp, what's also odd is that Parkin, Price, Uranga and Kemp apparently haven't contributed a dime for the mailers. Yet, as required by state law, asterisks that appear next to their names indicate that the candidates both approved and paid for the mailers, which would appear to be illegal to say if not true.
At least one candidate has so far sought to distance herself from the shady tactics: homicide investigator Price.
In a recent email obtained by the Weekly, Price said the following:
It has been brought to my attention that a slate mailer was sent to voters entitled "Republican Voter's Guide".
My campaign did not authorize the mailer and we did not pay for it. I was not aware that the piece had been mailed to voters until I heard about it from our colleague Stephen Bello on Friday.
You can confirm that my campaign did not pay for this slate (or any other slate mail) by looking at our financial reports on the City Clerk's website.
I wanted to make sure you had accurate information from me in case you were asked to comment about this slate over the course of the next weeks . . . Have a great rest of your Sunday.