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Rancho Santiago College Foundations Donated $250,000 to Ind. Committee Favoring Rancho’s Own Bond Measure L

 
 
 
 

BY BRIAN HEWS • [email protected] • March 2, 2020

The Orange County, California based Rancho Santiago Community College District is comprised of two large community colleges, the older Santa Ana College located in Santa Ana, and the newer Santiago Canyon College, located in Orange.

Together they have nearly 50,000 students enrolled for the district’s various classes.

Inside the district are two college foundations, the Santa Ana College Foundation and the Santiago Canyon College Foundation.

Donations to the foundations provide a tax-free deduction for an individual or an organization, and since the foundations are non-profit, finding who donated money is a difficult task.

Each foundation has a similar mission to “provide a high-quality college education that will help students, regardless of their financial circumstances, get where they want to go in life.”

But lately, both foundation’s individual missions have been to ensure that Measure L, the massive half-billion infrastructure improvement bond for the district, passes in tomorrow’s vote.

Documents exclusively obtained from the Orange County Registrar Recorder’s Office by Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News show that nearly $600,000 has been donated to a campaign committee in support of Measure L, The Campaign for Our Colleges-Yes on Measure L.

And the two foundations are among some of the top benefactors of the committee.

The Santa Ana College Foundation gave a massive $175,000 while the smaller Santiago Canyon College Foundation gave $75,000, for a total of $250,000.

In addition, Local Labor Unions donated $110,000; Schools First Federal Credit Union gave $100,000; and Townsend Public Affairs gave $25,000.

Expense reports showed the usual suspects involved with the school bond committees, but one company will be very familiar to HMG-LCCN readers.

 Nearly 40% of the expense, $234,000, was paid to Terris Barnes Walters Boigon Heath, or TBWBH. 

TBWBH is the same company as TBWB, an organization who has been involved in several high-profile infrastructure bonds that came under investigation either by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the state’s audit agency, the Financial Crisis and Management Assistance Team FCMAT.

Although TBWBH has not been implicated in either investigation, the company has been involved in the marketing of the San Diego based school district Sweetwater and their school bond and the El Rancho Unified School Bond.

The Sweetwater corruption and bribery scandal was the largest school bond corruption scheme in San Diego history.

The ERUSD corruption scandal investigation is ongoing and involves three school board members as well as a former bond management company and its owner Jaime Ortiz, who was also involved in the Sweetwater debacle.

HMG-LCCN was the first to report the bribery, corruption, and pay-to-play scheme surrounding the ERUSD Bond and Ortiz.

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Although not illegal, other foundations have donated to bond measures, the donations by the two foundations are much larger than normal and could present the appearance of impropriety.

Among the Santiago Canyon Foundation Board of Directors is a business automation specialist, a banker, a business lawyer, a management consultant, and an investment advisor.

Among the larger Santa Ana College Foundation Board of Directors is Kristin Crellin Vice President, Schools First Federal Credit Union, the credit union that gave the committee $100,000.

“This is a slippery slope when people or organizations can donate tax-deductible dollars in huge amounts in favor of issue campaigns,” said one school district official who preferred not to be identified. “Yes on Measure L proponents have an advantage over opponents; proponent’s donations are tax-deductible and hidden, opponent’s donations are not tax deductible and will show up on campaign finance reports. It is why we need campaign finance reform to address these issues.”

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