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WRD Tried to Influence Key Elections in Signal Hill, Cerritos, Central Basin Water

Thursday September 26, 2013, 3:22 p.m.

(Lakewood) Documents obtained by Hews Media Group-Community News show that a political action committee formed in 2012 appeared to have been established for the exclusive purpose of influencing the outcome of local elections, including Directorships at the Central Basin Municipal Water District, as well as city council seats in both Signal Hill and Cerritos, with all donations coming from vendors who work or contract with the Lakewood based Water Replenishment District.

Calling itself “The Coalition for Clean Affordable Water,” the CCAW filed for committee status with the Secretary of State in early 2012.

According to 460 disclosure statements filed in Norwalk at the County Registrar Recorders Office, and obtained by HMG-CN, within a span of two months, the committee raised and spent approximately $40,000 supporting and opposing candidates in the June 5, 2012 Central Basin Municipal Water District election resulting in two of three challengers replacing long-time incumbents.

See partial 460 documents click here.

The CCAW also spent money on local city council elections in Signal Hill and Cerritos, supporting three candidates in Signal Hill as well as former Planning Commissioner Frank Yokoyama in Cerritos. One CCAW candidate won in Signal Hill, the remaining lost their respective elections.

Funding for the effort came exclusively from individuals and firms doing business with the WRD located in Lakewood including seven law firms and six lobbyist/consultants.

Convicted felon Rick Mayer, who managed James Roybal’s and Leticia Vasquez’ successful campaigns and who is currently listed on Roybal’s 460’s as still being owed $15,888, apparently donated an additional $13,000 to the CCAW through two firms that list his private residence as it’s address.

CBMWD had long been at odds with the WRD and had recently won a case against them over their lack of compliance with the provisions of Proposition 218 notification requirements.

CBMWD joined the cities of Downey, Cerritos and Signal Hill in challenging in court WRD’s method of imposing their annual replenishment assessment rate setting process.

The courts ruled against WRD; however no decision has been made yet as to potential monetary damages that could range from a few hundred thousand to over $80 million.

According to a source familiar with the case, “CBMWD filed their lawsuit representing all the cities and ‘pumpers’ in their jurisdiction and the potential for awarded damages could have bankrupted the WRD.”

At CBMWD’s August 26, 2013 meeting, on a 3-2 vote, with Directors Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins voting no, the lawsuit against WRD was unexpectedly dropped, potentially saving WRD millions in damages.

According to Director Art Chacon, who voted against dropping the case along with fellow Director Phil Hawkins, “nobody drops a case you’ve fought hard for and won.  I was certainly in favor of negotiating with WRD in good faith regarding a potential settlement, but somehow they already had the votes lined up.

According to records, funding raised for the CCAW went to defeat three incumbents on the CBMWD.

A series of nine companies were paid through the CCAW including such popular slates as Californians Vote Green, Our Voice Latino Guide, Budget Watchdogs and COPS Voter Guide.

Then challenger James Roybal was given $8,612.33 by the CCA having all nine ‘slate mailers’ sent on his behalf.  Roybal won his seat defeating former Montebello Mayor Ed Vasquez.

Roybal raised only $4,000 on his own, not including a $1,010 loan to himself, while his campaign managed to spend $29,278.

Further, Roybal’s 460 disclosure forms failed to report the $8,612.33 non-monetary contribution by the CCA, which is a violation of the state’s campaign finance laws.

Sources tell HMG-CN that involvement of the CCA in CBMWD 2012 election raises concerns that another rival water agency is actively playing politics, which is against the law for any public agency.

CCA’s 460’s reveal that all 19 donors responsible for funding the attack on CBMWD are linked to WRD.

The HMG-CN investigation discovered that seven WRD law firms donated $9,000 combined and six WRD consultants and lobbyists another $8,000.

Furthermore, two large donations totaling $13,000 were made by business entities associated with convicted felon Rick Mayer of Whittier.

The two businesses donating $13,000 were R&M Associates and Alert One, both listing Mayer’s home residence of 13619 Terrace Place in Whittier as their primary location.

A search of property records revealed that Mayer and his wife Mary Ellen Basulto purchased the property in Whittier in March 2007.

Mayer, 61, is a controversial political figure and former CBMWD Director. Mayer was a candidate for the South Gate City Council when he was found guilty in 2001 of lying about where he lived in order to qualify for the ballot. He was convicted on seven felony counts, including three of perjury and served eight months in prison.

Mayer was widely recognized as an ally of South Gate’s other convicted politician Albert Robles, who bilked the city out of millions during his tenure as an elected official in that city.

CBMWD Director Art Chacon said, “the CCAW got involved in Cerritos and Signal Hill, where one incumbent was defeated.  In CBMWD’s race they knocked off two incumbents last year.  Pico Rivera is also not paying a replenishment assessment to WRD, a result of their own 218 opposition, and I understand that a small water board member named Adrian Diaz with very close ties to Roybal and Rick Mayer is running there this November against two incumbents.  Let’s see where his money is going to come from.”



  • Wayne Carter Sr. says:

    Oh my my. This changes everthing. These water agencies are indeed dens of corruption and need to be taken over by the State of California. The fact that James Roybal failed to report such a significant contribution on his public disclosure statements is inexcusable. He obviously had ever intention of carrying WRD’s water by terminating the 218 lawsuit so naturally he felt it best to conceal it.

    Earlier today I expressed my opinion that Bob Apodaca should be prosecuted for insurance fraud and now I want to go on the record to say that James Roybal should be prosecuted for bribery. These two should talk water together for the rest of their lives in prison.

  • Victor says:

    Anyone see the light at the end of the corruption tunnel in the southeast cities or this is just the tip of the iceberg ?
    Same players diffrent show!!!!

  • Elizabeth Rodriquez says:

    I am fascinated by the never ending corruption that exists in our political system. We, the ratepayers, are paying a staggering cost by allowing these actions to continue. People do not engage in this type of activity simply because they’re bored. We know that this behavior is driven by money, power and greed.

    Thank goodness that this newspaper is working 24/7 to expose these scandals and ripoffs. Please continue to dig and keep us informed. Good people are paying attention.

  • Adrian D. says:

    I support the vote to drop the 218 lawsuit. WRD does a great job and we need the invaluable service they do. I also think in America everyone has a right to donate to any poltitcal group they want. Rick Mayer is a proud American and should be considered a great man. His support for political candidates goes back 30 years and he deserves positive recognition for all his contributions.

    Central Basin is lucky to have Jim Roybal. He’s a smart man who is honest and he is doing the right thing.

    • Crime Watcher says:

      Adrian D. must be insane! IS this the Adrain Diaz that is running for Pico Rivera City Council. Just great, that’s all that poor city needs. This jokers comments are so far out of left field that I’m thinking this post is a joke. RIck Mayer a great American? I know this guy from the Elks in Montebello and he’s total slimmy filth. That guy had to be a used car salesman in a prior life because he’s a real con artist.

      By association, Adrian Diaz is tight with James Roybal as well since he and Mayer are joint at the hip. What a cesspool you’ve got there. Quick, someone call for a clean out.

  • FLFF says:

    It seems as if it is a NEVER ending cycle of graft and corruption in the Central Basin Water District. I also wonder if all of the perps involved were democrats? Why do I ask? They seem to be the only ones state and nationally who will go any lengths to win elections legally or illegally! Now I see why my old democrat Assembly member Tony Mendoza wanted on to the board! MONEY-MONEY-MONEY and very little accountability.. right up his alley!

  • William says:

    Standard with the WRD. Why is it that all these small water districts are so corrupt. The ringleader on WRD seems to be Robles with the others following suit. It appears to be collusion in their attempt to influence the elections. There has got to be a felony in here somewhere. All the water agencies with their corruption will make the City of Bell look like pikers.

  • Virginia Johnson says:

    Whoever said that Albert Robles of Carson is the ringleader of all these Water Replenishment District issues, could not have said it any better. Lil Albert(Carson) as we like to call him in South Gate (compared to Felon Big Al of South Gate) learned an awful lot from the Corrupt Politicians we had in 2001 here in South Gate. I went to most Court Proceedings involving South Gate and these guys just pass dishonest ideas around until one sticks. Thank you HEWS News.

  • Crime Watcher says:

    Why is the District Attorney allowing Lit’ Al to feed off of two troughs? Politician should NOT be allowed to serve in two political offices within the same jurisdiction! Power should NEVER be allowed to accumulate and build in one person’s hands. Corrupt con men like Albert Robles DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO GOOD THINGS WITH POWER. Jackie Lacey apparently is too weak to hold her office. Either that or she’s “playing ball”? Where’s Cooley when we need him?

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