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VILLARAIGOSA’S FINANCE REPORTS SHOW HE’S BEING BANKROLLED BY TRUMP MEGA-DONORS

STAFF REPORT

The John Chiang campaign has researched and released Antonio Villaraigosa’s campaign finance reports slamming Villaraigosa saying, “they brings to light his clear pattern of accepting contributions from shady individuals and organizations with ties to President Donald Trump. Villaraigosa has not only accepted the support of CEOs and real estate developers who backed President Trump’s super PAC and endorsed him for president, but has also accepted donations from pro-charter Republicans and serval other GOP mega-donors.”

“Once again, Antonio Villaraigosa has shown he doesn’t care whose name is on the check as long as it clears its way into his bank account,” said Fabien Levy, Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for John Chiang’s campaign. “How can voters trust Antonio to fight for California values and stand up to President Trump when it turns out he’s in the pocket of the same mega-donors who have proudly proclaimed their support for the president? For a candidate who purports to proudly be a Democrat, Antonio clearly has no problem selling out to the highest bidder.”

The Chiang campaign claims that Villaraigosa has accepted almost $130,000 in contributions from separate Republican and pro-Trump supporters. Those include contributions from Susana Chandi, who contributed $500,000 to USA Business Freedom PAC, a pro-Trump super PAC, and NASCAR CEO Brian France, who endorsed Donald Trump for president. Villaraigosa has also accepted contributions from pro-charter Republican Walmart heiress Carrie Penner and her husband Gregory Penner, Republican “power broker” Bert Boekmann, Republican oil investor Thomas Wachtell and his wife Esther Wachtell, and Republican CEO Bernard Klepach and his wife Juliette Klepach.

Levy added, “John Chiang has always prioritized openness, transparency, and accountability during his time in office, and throughout his campaign hasn’t taken any money from Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, WalMart, or Herbalife. Voters can always trust John to lead with honesty and integrity and fight for them, not shady special interests.”

Below are the results of the Chiang campaign research:

Villaraigosa accepted $10,000 contribution from Susana Chandi, who contributed $500,000 to pro-Trump super PAC. On July 31, 2017, Susana Chandi contributed $10,000 to Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial campaign. In August 2016, CNN reported that Susana and her husband, Nachhattar Chandi, contributed $500,000 to USA Business Freedom PAC, a pro-Trump super PAC. According to CNN, USA Business Freedom PAC planned a “$1 million radio buy on behalf of Donald Trump, a campaign that will be one of the largest advertising purchases for the Republican presidential nominee so far.” One of the PAC’s ads stated, “Our current president doesn’t have a strategy to stop terrorists. Neither does Hillary. This November, we can elect a man who will make America safe again. Donald Trump is that man.” [California Secretary of State, 7/31/2017; CNN, 8/3/2016]

Villaraigosa accepted $20,000 from NASCAR CEO who endorsed Trump for president. On December 28, 2017, Brian France, the CEO of NASCAR, contributed $20,000 to Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial campaign. According to The Hill, France endorsed Trump for president in 2016 saying, “He wins with his family. Any of his children, you’d be proud of have them as part of your family. That’s how I judge a winner, how somebody manages their family and raises their family.” [California Secretary of State, 12/28/2017; The Hill, 2/18/2018]

Villaraigosa accepted $5,000 from developer behind failed Trump Baja project. On January 18, 2017, Jason Grosfeld contributed $5,000 to Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial campaign. In June 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that Grosfeld and his company Irongate were the developers behind the failed Trump condo project in Baja, Mexico, which “yielded $32.5 million in buyer deposits, every bit of it spent by the time Trump and his partners abandoned the project in early 2009 as the global economy was reeling.” Irongate, Trump, and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. would be sued for fraud. Irongate settled for at least $7.25 million; the terms of the Trumps’ settlement are confidential. All told, approximately 250 buyers, most of which were from Southern California, lost all their money in the failed Trump Baja development. [California Secretary of State, 1/18/2017; Los Angeles Times, 6/27/2016]

Pro-charter Republican Walmart heiress and husband contributed $20,000 to Villaraigosa in 2018. On April 3, 2018, Carrie Penner and Gregory Penner each contributed $10,000 to Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial campaign for a total of $20,000. According to Inside Philanthropy, Carrie Penner is part of the Walton Family, founders of Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation, “One of the largest backers of school choice in the U.S.,” and Gregory is her husband. Reportedly,Penner is more than a funder of the school choice movement — she’s actively directing through board memberships in several key organizations. She is on the board of the KIPP Foundation, America’s largest charter school organization, running 125 charter schools. The number of students KIPP schools enroll is set to double thanks to $25 million gift by the Walton Family Foundation last year… She also sits on the board of Alliance for School Choice, which not only supports charter schools but has also backed vouchers and is chaired by Besty [sic] DeVos, a prominent Republican and a long-time proponent of vouchers and privatization of public schools. Penner is active in several California education organizations, most notably the California Charter Schools Association, which seeks to expand and defend charter schools in California. (The group is heavily backed by the Walton Family Foundation.) Her husband Greg Penner is equally immersed in the ed world, as co-chair of the Charter School Growth Fund, one of the big players in the charter school movement, and a board member of Teach for America… The Penners are definitely one of the top power couples in ed reform circles right now, with huge resources and major clout. Judging by her campaign donations, Carrie Walton Penner is a moderate Republican with occasional Democratic sympathies… Greg Penner appears to be the more hardcore Republican in the family. He is the son of the Christian sex therapists Clifford and Joyce Penner, and like his wife, has degrees from Georgetown and Stanford.According to Forbes, the Walton family has spent over $350 million to help start 1,600 of the 6,440 public charter schools nationwide. [California Secretary of State, 4/21/2018; Inside Philanthropy, 2/14/2014; Forbes, 12/1/2014]

“Republican power broker” contributed $29,200 to Villaraigosa in 2017. On December 27, 2017, Bert Boeckmann contributed $29,200 to Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial campaign. According to the Los Angeles Times, Boeckmann is a “Republican power broker” in Los Angeles politics and the owner of Galpin Motors Inc. In 2001, Boeckmann was “one of the top political donors in the San Fernando Valley” and he contributed more than $20,000 to Villaraigosa’s mayoral campaign. [California Secretary of State, 12/27/2017; Los Angeles Times, 7/15/2001]

Republican oil investor and wife contributed $40,000 to Villaraigosa in 2018. On February 27, 2018, Thomas and Esther Wachtell each contributed $20,000 to Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial campaign. According to Politico, Wachtell is a “retired oil and gas investor” who “has given tens of thousands of dollars over the years to Senate Republicans.” In May 2016, the Ventura County Star reported that Thomas and Esther Wachtell “gave money to Marco Rubio,” and Esther “made four $25,000 donations to a Conservative Solutions super PAC that supported Rubio.” [California Secretary of State, 4/26/2018; Politico, 10/5/2017; The New York Times, 1/28/1957; Ventura County Star, 5/7/2016]

Villaraigosa accepted over $4,800 from GOP funders Benny and Juliette Klepach. On March 18, 2018, Benny and Juliette Klepach of Miami Beach, Florida each contributed $2,439.50 to Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial campaign, for a total of $4,879. Bernard “Benny” Klepach is the founder and CEO of DFASS, a duty free retail company. According to the Federal Elections Commission, Bernard and Juliette Klepach have donated $204,650 since 2005 to Republican campaigns or political committees, including the Republican National Committee. [California Secretary of State, 3/18/2018; DFASS, Accessed 4/30/2018; Federal Elections Commission, Accessed 4/30/2018]

Villaraigosa joined McLarty board of directors, consulted for them in 2014. In February 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported on Villaraigosa’s employment following his tenure as Mayor of Los Angeles. According to the Times, Villaraigosa was a “member of the board of counselors for McLarty Associates, a global consulting firm.” According to The Sacramento Bee, Villaraigosa consulted for McLarty from January 2014 to December 2015. Thomas F. McLarty III was the co-founder and chairman of McLarty Associates, and the Times said the firm “helps clients, mainly large companies, navigate complex political climates around the world.” According to the Times, Villaraigosa’s board membership at McLarty “could raise questions about potential conflicts with Senate business” if he chose to run for the Senate. \[Los Angeles Times, 2/16/2015; The Sacramento Bee, 11/21/2017]

FBI investigated McLarty client for communications with Trump server during 2016 election. In March 2017, Business Insider reported the FBI was examining the computer servers of Alfa Bank, a Russian bank with “close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin” and a client of McLarty Associates. According to Business Insider, Alfa’s computer servers had a “disproportionate interest in reaching a server used by the Trump Organization during the US presidential campaign.” According to Slate, the “irregular pattern of server lookups actually resembled the pattern of human conversation—conversations that began during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow.” When researchers analyzed the Trump server communicating with Alfa, they found that it was configured to “accept only incoming communication from a very small handful of IP addresses.” According to Paul Vixie, an expert on DNS code, “The parties were communicating in a secretive fashion. The operative word is secretive. This is more akin to what criminal syndicates do if they are putting together a project.” According to Slate, researchers plotted the data from the Alfa and Trump servers:[Business Insider, 3/10/2017; Slate, 10/31/2016; McLarty Associates, Accessed 3/23/2018]

McLarty partner advised Trump foreign policy while lobbying for Russian pipeline. In October 2016, Politico reported that Richard Burt, a Managing Partner at McLarty Associates, was “earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote one of Vladimir Putin’s top geopolitical priorities at the same time he was helping to shape Donald Trump’s first major foreign policy speech”:According to Politico, “Burt’s connections to Russia go back many decades.” In 1989, Burt negotiated the strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the USSR after being appointed by President George H.W. Bush. Recently, Burt also advised the Russian Alfa Bank and it’s co-founder, Mikhail Fridman. [Politico, 10/7/2016; McLarty Associates, Accessed 3/23/2018]

McLarty traveled with Villaraigosa on $295,000 official trip to Asia in 2011.In December 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that Villaraigosa was going on an 11 day “trade mission to Asia” that included stops in China, South Korea, and Japan. Reportedly, McLarty accompanied Villaraigosa on the $295,000 trip, which was funded by the Port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports. [LA Observed, 12/2/2011; Los Angeles Times, 12/4/2011]

 

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