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Santa Ana’s Dirty Little Political Secrets

Claudia Alvarez
Claudia Alvarez

The Voice of OC’s Adam Elmahrek is probably the most despised, by Council members, reporters covering the Santa Ana political beat. He’s been uncovering and reporting on the dirty underbelly of political intrigue that lies just out of public view. In his latest report, Elmahrek has revealed that recent allegations of secret and unreported political contributions by a developer, Vineyards Development Corp., to the effort by former Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez to seek a fourth term on the Santa Ana City Council.

In 2012, Councilwoman Alvarez was the beneficiary of a lawsuit, filed by her campaign supporter Max Madrid, seeking eligibility to seek a fourth term on the city council. Her suit was based in part on a legal opinion that asserted that a 2008 charter amendment, Measure D, reset the limit on all council terms to three consecutive four-year terms, beginning in 2008, effectively permitting Alvarez to run for two additional council terms. The lawsuit failed, and Alvarez sought and won a seat on the Rancho Santiago Community College Board of Trustees.

From Elmahrek’s story:

Former Santa Ana Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez voted in favor of a proposed apartment complex after the complex’s developer paid $5,000 for a legal opinion concluding that Alvarez could run for an unprecedented fourth term, according to a developer’s expense report submitted to the city.

This revelation was included in the same expense report handed over to the city by Barry Levine — a former investor in the project — that raised suspicions regarding an alleged illegal gift or possibly an illegal campaign contribution to Councilwoman Michele Martinez.


Depending on the circumstances, Alvarez would have been required to report the payment as an in-kind contribution to her campaign committee, according to Bob Stern, president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies.
Public campaign filings show that Alvarez did not report the payment.

And if the payment counts as a campaign contribution, then it would have been illegal under city law. In Santa Ana, the maximum contribution limit from any one entity is $1,000. READ MORE.

Miguel Pulido
Mayor Miguel Pulido – Photo: Chris Prevatt/LiberalOC

I’ve heard speculation that the revelations by Levine, are political pay back, on behalf of Pulido, for efforts by the city council majority to place a Charter amendment on the ballot requiring the position of Mayor to be subject to a primary election in June followed by a runoff in November if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary. Mayor Pulido has failed to receive more than 50 percent of the vote in his last two elections. Maybe it’s a coincidence that the timing of Levine’s revelations are also help to distract from allegations that Pulido had failed to report a real estate swap with a city contractor that garnered Pulido a $197,000 profit. Pulido amended his financial disclosure statements last week to report the transaction.

If the allegations of political payback are true, it would appear that Pulido is engaging in a scorched-earth campaign for his political survival, without a care to which friends he brings down. During her last year on the Council, Pulido was Alvarez and Pulido were political allies, but that alliance resulted in Pulido abandoning another of his allies, trustee Mark McLoughlin, in favor of her campaign for Rancho Santiago Community College District Trustee. Pulido was also instrumental in encouraging Councilwoman Martinez to run for State Assembly in 2012. According to Martinez, Pulido was supposed to assist he in her campaign. Levine’s targeted allegations against Martinez, which just happen to benefit Pulido, could possibly indicate that the alleged $10,500 in contributions to her campaign by the developer were arranged by Pulido. I am compelled to note however that there is currently no evidence linking Pulido to Levine.

One thing is clear, political intrigue in Santa Ana has not calmed down with the departure of Alvarez and Carlos Bustamante from the Santa Ana City Council at the end of 2012.

One Comment

  1. David Valdivia David Valdivia December 10, 2013

    This city’s corruption is like an onion, the layers just keep get peeled back!

    Scrap the entire elected government, how can a city of 400,000 have three elected members of government who are under/unemployed?

    I would feel better if somebody other than the union backed Voice Of OC was complaining, But, It says something when even they cry foul! Michele Martinez REEKS of free handouts, Pulido, well thats been going on for years, Who’s next?

    These folks need to go deeper and in more detail than a FORM 700. I am begining to think the “sunshine” was a smokescreen. I read today, Vince has a couple MILLION in real estate holdings in Santa Ana, Reyna, Benavides and Martinez NONE!

    Start digging, the stench will rise.

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