Monday, June 04, 2007

There's Something About Janet Nguyen

[Orange] County Supervisor Janet Nguyen is 50 days late so far in complying with a county oridinace [sic] on campaign donations. Some time after the Feb. 6 election, she accepted three contributions in excess of the county's $1,500 limit and put them into a legal trust fund set up by her lawyer. Turns out county code prohibits such trust funds, so the money was moved out of there and the excess donations, they say, were returned.

And once again, Janet's silence on her funny money hit Total Buzz. Hmmm, so what's happening with Janet Nguyen? And why won't she report what exactly happened with her missing funny money?

OK, so how did this all begin? Well, it started when The LA Times reported this:

Newly elected Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen solicited secret donations above the campaign contribution limit in an effort to quickly pay down her legal debts, an apparent violation of campaign finance law, according to interviews and an e-mail obtained by The Times.

The solicitations came as Nguyen was seeking money to cover her legal costs defending a hair-thin victory in the Feb. 6 special supervisorial election. Among those approached were public employee unions and trade groups representing business interests that regularly come before the Board of Supervisors.

Donors were asked to make checks out to a client trust fund of her campaign attorney, Phillip Greer, and to mail the checks to her Garden Grove campaign address.

In an interview Thursday, Nguyen admitted that she sought the contributions but said she did so on the advice of her lawyers, under the belief that it was legal because politicians at the local, state and federal level are allowed to maintain legal defense funds. She said she had selected the people to whom the requests were sent based on personal contacts.

Well, I guess Janet wasn't paying attention to what was legal at the county level. Here in Orange County, we have a little something called TIN CUP. And clearly, Janet and her campaign team had an idea as to what was allowed and what wasn't under TIN CUP since they had to ensure early in the campaign that money transferred from Janet's Assembly account could be transferred into her Supervisorial account. So why did she still violate TIN CUP during the recount?

And oh yes, why hasn't Janet reported this to the Registrar of Voters? Not only is Janet Nguyen required to return the money, but she must also report it. Well, Janet said that she returned the money, but how do we really know if she hasn't filed the proper paperwork? No wonder why Martin Wisckol has become so curious over at Total Buzz.

County code says that you have to return such overages within seven days -- and then file paperwork with the county Registrar of Voters within 72 hours, documenting how much was returned and to whom.

It's now been more than two months since the money was allegedly returned. Each day I grow increasingly curious about who those generous donors were and just how much they tried to give Nguyen. Is there some reason she doesn't want the public to know who they are?

Yes, is there a reason? Why hasn't Janet filed the paperwork? If she really returned the money, then why won't she report it? And oh yes, just who was giving her this money? And why did they want to give her all this money?

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with Jubal/Matt Cunningham on this:

But her refusal to comply with a simple provision of TIN CUP is difficult to understand. It's not a complicated task -- all she has to do is fill out some paperwork about three donors to her illegal legal defense fund whose donations exceeded TIN CUP contribution limits. [...]

Let's leave aside the implausibility of Janet's claim to know there are three donors who gave more than the $1,600 limit, but she doesn't know who they are, although she does know the excess donations were refunded.

What excuse does she have for refusing to comply with a county ordinance for going on two months now? Janet's a county supervisor, after all -- and flouting county ordinances doesn't look good.

Yes, what exactly is her excuse? She's our sitting County Supervisor now. She should be setting an example by following county law. And if she can't even follow one county ordinance on campaign contributions, then why should we trust her with this and other laws?

If Janet Nguyen wants to all this speculation about her legally questionable contributions, then she needs to report them to the Registrar of Voters. After all, she is the only person perpetuating this scandal by not being forthcoming. So can Janet please just report? There's something about Janet and her campaign account, and it would be so much nicer for everyone if she can just obey the law and report what she got.

No comments: