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Cerritos Candidate Chuong Vo Took a $7,500 Donation From the Cerritos Auto Square

Council candidate Vo’s take from the Auto Square was nearly 30% of his total donations.

 

BY BRIAN HEWS

The Cerritos Auto Square is by far the largest revenue generator for the city of Cerritos, routinely generating between $10 and $12 million per year for City coffers.

And now apparently they want to influence the politics of the city.

Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News has obtained campaign finance statements that show Cerritos City Council candidate Chong Vo took an eye-opening $7,500 from the Southern California Motor Dealer’s Association (SCMDA).

THE SCDMA has several Auto Square dealers as members.

To put that in perspective, the $7,500 given to Vo is nearly 30% of his total campaign finances as of Jan. 18.

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The $7,500 donation from SCDMA to Vo.

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Vo, a Torrance Police Officer, is against Cerritos’ Measure C, the sales-tax measure that would bring in over $11 million to the City.

If passed, Cerritos residents will pay a higher amount of sales tax on new cars at the Auto Square which could chase residents to lower tax cities to buy their car.

Vo’s stance has many scratching their heads, some of the Measure C funds would be spent to increase public safety in the form of more sheriffs and more sheriff’s units on the streets.

Many say it is Vo pandering to the neo-conservatives in Cerritos to get their vote.

Usually big organizations inside cities spread the wealth and contribute to all viable candidates, but in the Auto Square’s case they chose Vo for a big pay day.

Vo Took Money From Other Questionable People

This is not the first time Vo has taking donations from questionable people and organizations.

In 2016, Vo received $2,500 from Deiter Dammeier and Saku Ethir who were partners in a law firm implicated in a high-profile lawsuit filed by two Costa Mesa councilmen.

Ethir was also suspended from the State Bar in 2013.

The two lawyers were sued for taking part in a scheme to frame two city councilmen because negotiations between the police union they represented and the city broke down.

Lying About Endorsements

Vo also lied about political endorsements during his 2016 campaign which included current Artesia Mayor Ali Taj.

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Taj told HMG-LCCN at the time, “I am very surprised at this. I have endorsed only two candidates for the Cerritos City Council race, Mayor Pulido and Sophie Tse. My endorsement does not include Chuong Vo.”

In other reports, Naresh Solanki took in $23,000, $20,000 of the total was a personal loan with only seven donations, one was from Biz Fed Political Action Committee.

Hong garnered over $43,000 from 55 different  sources, none of the amount was from a personal loan.

Edwards took in over $35,000, of which $20,000 was a personal loan; over 25 people donated, along with a $500 from the Biz Fed PAC.

Outside Money Influences Other Cerritos Council Races

Biz-Fed, just like the Cerritos Auto Square, is attempting to influence politics inside Cerritos on its own dime. 

The Los Angeles-based organization of businesses mailed out a campaign advertisement similar to that in 2016, endorsing Jim Edwards, Naresh Solanki, and Vo.

Biz-Fed does not list a single business within their 108 members from Cerritos, and the organization has never held a workshop or attended chamber function in the City.

Biz Fed’s says its mission is to “support business friendly candidates and job supporters.”

The organization says it “screens candidates” in interviews for consideration of their endorsement.

Candidate Jennifer Hong, who started and owns a company since 1990 that generates over $15 million in revenue a year with over 25 employees was not interviewed.

Rocky Pavone, who runs a certified financial workshop company and provides advice to individuals, businesses, and large organizations was not interviewed.

But Jim Edwards, a retired teacher, and Chuong Vo, a Torrance police officer, have both been interviewed and endorsed by Biz Fed, neither having ever signed the front of a paycheck.

Emails into Biz-Fed for comment went unreturned.

In an email, Cerritos resident Brad Beach, a good friend of Vo, indicated he would forward a screenshot of the donation to Vo for comment; Vo has never answered a request for comment from HMG-LCCN.

HMG-LCCN did not receive a response from Vo, but in less than an hour after the email to Beach, the screenshot found its way onto a pro-Vo Facebook page criticizing the upcoming HMG-LCCN story.

A spokesperson for the SCMDA did not respond to emails either.

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