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FPPC Confirms Active Investigation into Tustin’s Bensworth and Perez City Council Campaigns

The Liberal OC has obtained a copy of a letter sent to the Democratic Party of Orange County by the Fair Political Practices Commission confirming that the FPPC is engaged in an active investigation into the campaign finances of Tustin City Council candidates Kurt Bensworth and James Perez.

You can see a copy of the letter at this link:  Bensworth Perez_Redacted FPPC Investigation.

Here’s the core of the FPPC letter:

This letter is to notify you that the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission will investigate the allegation(s), under the jurisdiction of the Commission, of the sworn complaint you submitted in the above-referenced matter. You will next receive notification from us upon final disposition of the case. However, please be advised that at this time we have not made any determination about the validity of the allegation(s) you have made or about the culpability, if any, of the person(s) you identify in your complaint.

The letter is dated October 20 and doesn’t seem to square with the letter sent to us by Bensworth, which we posted, where he offered this explanation without evidence:

On October 6, 2020 we called the FPPC and reviewed the allegations.  Here is what we found.  We were not in violation of not reporting funds, but there were some discrepancies in how James and I had accrued obligations between ourselves as we received donations through our separate campaign accounts and how we accounted for these obligations as a team splitting costs 50:50.  Throughout our campaign we have used a campaign accounting service and this service had never faced a “team” running for office.  According to the FPPC, this was a minor clerical error, not “failed to report a single cent” as stated in your article.  We don’t expect any further action from the FPPC.

The Liberal OC, through our legal counsel, also notified the Bensworth/Perez campaign that we would not retract the republished DPOC Press Release notifying the press that an FPPC complaint has been filed.

At a recent Tustin City Council candidates forum, the pair discussed their campaign contributions, claiming they’ve only received small donations or used their own money.  But the duo says they have not benefitted from PAC money.

That doesn’t appear to be true.  A source emailed this list to us late yesterday afternoon:

A PAC called Taxpayers for Sustainable Growth DBA SoCal Responsible Growth is funneling tens of thousands of dollars into campaign coffers in the past 30 days:
Jorge Valdes – $10,000
Ryan Gallagher – $10,000
James Perez – $5,000
Kurt Bensworth – $5,000

Crime Survivors PAC – $10,000 – Went into a mailing for Jorge Valdes and Ryan Gallagher.
Gallagher for Tutin Council 2020 (ID# 1427211) – $5,000 direct contribution
James Perez for Tustin 2020 (ID# 1426330) – $5,000 direct contribution
Kurt Bensworth for Tustin City Council (ID# 1426213) – $5,000 direct contribution
People’s Committee for Public Safety and Transparent Taxation (ID# 1430088) – $5,000
Santa Ana Neighborhood Leaders Supporting Vicente – $10,000
Valdes 4 Tustin Council 2020 (ID# 1425461) – $5,000

Gallagher for Tutin Council 2020 (ID# 1427211) – $5,000 direct contribution
Valdes 4 Tustin Council 2020 (ID# 1425461) – $5,000

Melissa Fox for Assembly 2020 (ID# 1414969) – $1,000 Direct Contribution

Now PACs and IEs aren’t supposed to coordinate directly with campaigns and candidates, so claims by Bensworth and Perez that they are self-funding or have received small donations omits the contributions by these PACs. Hopefully the FPPC can shed light on the Bensworth/Perez campaign finances before election day so voters can determine the truth.





  1. ocpd44 ocpd44 October 22, 2020

    Something is rotten in the City of Tustin. Nine candidates running for three offices has to be some sort of record for this sleepy burg. Checking the websites for Bensworth and Peres show their webmaster is incredibly lazy (both use the exact same wording in their platform statements). Bensworth and Peres are certainly not the ones to fill open spots on the dais. They are running a one-issue campaign based on a NO vote for the proposed COSTCO gas station. They both have an “aw shucks” down home bio; one has to wonder how much dark money has been funneled their way from Legacy development interests…

  2. Tillerguy Tillerguy October 26, 2020

    Hold On Wait One Minute Chmielewski. How dare you attackthese upstanding gents of Tustin. Kurt has been nominated for man of the yeartwice! James has been a steadfast volunteer and involved since he arrived inTustin. What has any of the canidates dont that even comes close? Who the Fing F is Jorge or George Valdez and Ryan the Wise Gallagher? Theyare taking in more money than needed and for what reason. THEY ARE NOBODIES! IFYOU are going to attack two upstanding guys attack all four. Suppose you wantto wonder why this money is coming in check to see who else got the dinero andfrom WHO. Looking at filling it seems like Kurt and Jaime returned the money,while George and Gallagher lapped up the funds and asked for seconds. For obviousreasons, I don’t know who the heck would give them this kind of cash when theyare going to lose. Next term I am running and will hire who ever the F was runningtheir campaign so I can collect up the dark money and use it to get my friends andmyself rich. Just throwing around tens of thousands of dollars in Tustin isgiven when you look at all the associated land deals. This money isbeing used to buy council candidates (that will lose) by developers using shadyways of doing it and manipulating the system. Seriousness aside, since BeckieGomez entered the race, its basically one slot race, with everyone fighting forthird place. VOTE FOR THE BEST NOT THE REST PEREZ & BENZ! Lets send her back packing to the board of education, cause problems there. NOT TUSTIN. People that beenthere from day 1, not like the rest of the race who show up for their photo opsand endorsed by the clowns that ran this place into the ground. These guys willsay NO TO COSTCO GAS and all the other numb ideas presented by City Staff.

    TO OCPD44 – Aw SHUCKs pal. The only thing rotten is Tustin is YOU.

    To the rest of the candidates – I hope you enjoy losing, because BE READY FORTHE UPSET on TUESDAY.

    Enjoy hunkering down, see you in two years or not.  THATS NOT SMOKE YOU ARE SMELLIN ITS ALL THE DEMOCROOK REPULICON BS

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | October 26, 2020

      Thanks Barry

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | October 26, 2020

      Announce your candidacy now. Name yourself. Coward

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | October 27, 2020

      Barry — pick one name and stick to it OK?

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | November 4, 2020

      These upstanding gents finished at the bottom of the pack

  3. ocpd44 ocpd44 October 28, 2020

    I may be rotten, Barry but at least I can put together an entire paragraph, something you don’t seem to be able to do. Well, two things, since you can’t say “no” to your cronies on the council.

  4. Tiller Tiller November 5, 2020

    Chmielewski, I am back after taking a break fora few days to let the results of this crooked election digest. Tustin and othercities are being controlled and taken for a ride by the unions. The good guys didn’thave a CHANCE. Why is there all this money in Tustin elections? You don’taddress why candidates get money from Planned Parenthood and developers. Thisis our little town, not an abortion clinic and a police academy. Why is the POAand fire fighters and developers all dumping tens of thousands to get IDIOTSelected. Tustin was robbed with the help of Po-Lice, Making OC Broke OCFA, the “professional”firefighters and unions. Beckie and Gallagher the Wise got elected with that unionmoney and not lifting a pretty little finger of theirs. Guys campaigning got ignored(Lee, Kurt and James).  Talk aboutNONSENSE. Our council was elected for the people by PAC money by the people. Thecity will be taken adventage of now. Memo to candidates running for Tustin CityCouncil, unless the wiseguys of Tustin don’t give you a thumbs up don’t bother.DON’T MATTER IF YOU HAVE HEART AND ARE FOR THE COMMUNITY. Get blessed by thegodfathers (Police) and stooges and you are GOLDEN. Protect YOUR KIDS andProtect Yourself! NO TO COSTCO GAS, NO TO VACANT LOTS, NO TO LAZY OVERPAID CITYSTAFF BUMS. Like I mentioned, but nobody listens. Tustin should be ashamed of themselves for being boughtby crooks. Something is really fucked up when people spending 130k and cannoteven win! IF THE MONEY RAISED Was spent to good instead of campaign, gee thatsomething? Ha. Don’t WORRY about me and worry why these things happen inTustin. Dan Are you not a liberal breathing BLM, and defund the police guy? Ask YOURSELFwhy your candidates are getting the dinero from the same people they want to dEFUND.BECAUE THEY ARE BUYING RAISES AND CONTRACTS AND OOOOH VOTES! Tustin isbeing taken for a ride, what else is new. Different people same ball game. Wakeyour eyes Tustin and get WOKE.

    To all the people who lost please fade back into the background, we will seeyou at the next election! RIGHT? Remember the faces that are there always even withthe odds against them. These upstanding gents won’t change, they have more resolve.Bye Judge George, Bye Ryan, Bye Jah Jah, Bye Chris.  

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