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Controversial Bell Gardens Outreach Contract Secretly Involves Mario Beltran

BY BRIAN HEWS • October 26, 2020

In September, Hews Media Group-Cerritos News reported on the city of Bell Gardens sending out a request for proposal related to an outreach contract that would “ensure the voters are accurately educated and understand the outcome of their vote associated with the sales tax measure (Measure A) on the November ballot.”

The city labeled the $36,000 contract “professional services” which precluded the agreement from any kind of formal bidding process.

According to City Manager Mike O’Kelly, the city received one response for the typical outreach contract, submitted by Blue Icon Communications, which is owned by long-time political operative Louis Reyes.

The contract was placed on the Sept 14 City Council agenda, with sources telling HMG-CN that Mayor Alejandra Cortez led the charge for the item to be on the agenda; the council, which has a vacant seat, voted 3-1 to approve, with Mayor Cortez, and Councilmen Barcena, and Aceituno voting yes, while Mayor pro tem Lisseth Flores voted no.

Questions of favoritism and money laundering began swirling immediately after the award, which was approved a mere forty-three days before Nov. 3.

According to sources, Reyes has a business relationship with both Barcena, and Aceituno, and, as was pointed out in the September HMG-CN article, assisted Cortez with her 2018 campaign.

Reyes has a shady background himself. He was a staffer for disgraced former State Senator Ron Calderon, who in 2014 was indicted on 24 criminal charges and was convicted in 2016.

Reyes also staunchly defended indicted former LA County Assessor John Noguez as the D.A.’s investigation into Noguez was revealed by HMG-CN.

Reyes organized an attack to discredit HMG-CN’s investigation but eventually left the assessor’s office as more evidence came out.

The HMG-CN September exposé revealed that a business relationship existed between Reyes and Mayor Cortez, a relationship that should have caused Cortez to recuse herself from voting for the contract.

If Cortez properly recused herself, and given the fact there is an open council seat, there would not have been enough votes to approve the contract.

A Facebook screenshot showed that Reyes’ Blue Icon was managing Cortez’ Bell Gardens City Mayor Facebook page;

Blue Icon was removed as manager just days before the contract was approved..

In addition, Reyes gave $500 to Cortez  committee and designed USPS flyers for her campaign.

But that did not stop Cortez from voting yes for the contract setting off a firestorm of criticism and accusations of corruption.

Now, HMG-CN has learned that, like Cortez, Reyes has another covert business relationship, a person who has an especially bad reputation in Bell Gardens, as well as other East Los Angeles cities, disgraced former Bell Gardens City Councilman Mario Beltran.

Beltran is founder of Principia Group, LLC Public Relations based in Bell Gardens.

On the company website, principiagroupllc.com, Beltran lists himself and Jay Cortez as vice president, no other employees are listed.

Navigating to his Contact Us page reveals an address in Bell Gardens, spelled as Bells Gardens.

But another address listed on the page, 13104 Philadelphia Street Suite 206, is the address Luis Reyes’ listed as his Mayoral candidate office.

It is also an address listed on Beltran’s California corporate filing found on the SOS’s website.

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beltran principia

 

 

 

 

(TOP) Principia website screenshot with 13104 Philadelphia address; (middle) Principia’s 2017 corporate filing showing the same address, which is Louis Reyes’ Mayoral campaign headquarters; (bottom) screenshot showing Beltran’s corporation is FTB suspended.

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Beltran FTB Suspended

Beltran has evidently not exercised proper corporate administration as a search on the Secretary of State’s website reveals that Principia Group, LLC is suspended by California’s Franchise Tax Board.

The reasons for a suspension can vary and might include a failure to file certain documents, including the failure to file tax returns, in any case, any business contracts are void during the time of suspension.

Section 5.10 of the Blue Icon agreement states,  “All of Consultant’s [Blue Icon] employees and agents (including, but not limited to, subcontractors and subconsultants) possess all licenses, permits, certificates, qualifications and approvals of whatever nature that are legally required to perform the tasks and services contemplated under this Agreement.”

Since Beltran is FTB suspended, Reyes is in violation of 5.10

And HMG-CN has obtained strong evidence that Beltran is working with Reyes on the outreach campaign for Measure A substantiating claims that funds from the campaign are making their way from Reyes to Beltran and his FTB suspended corporation.

 

 

Hundreds of Measure A signs inside Beltran’s office.

 

Conflicts of Interest are Rife Between Bell Gardens Mayor and Former Ron Calderon Staffer

 

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