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WRD Board President Rob Katherman Admits He Formed PAC to Influence Elections

By Brian Hews and Brian Hews

Katherman, Rob

WRD Board President Rob Katherman

In an interview with Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper on Tuesday Rob Katherman, an elected member of the Water Replenishment Board of Directors, confirmed he was actively involved in a political action campaign committee who successfully helped elect two current members of the rival Central Basin Municipal Water District back in 2012.

Katherman, said he helped start the “Coalition for Clean and Affordable Water” that raised campaign contributions and produced campaign materials that led to the successful election of former recalled Lynwood City Council member and Mayor Leticia Vasquez and James Roybal to the CBMWD Board of Directors.

“I got involved with a group of people who wanted to unseat the incumbents at Central Basin Municipal Water District (in 2012) who were misbehaving,” he said.

Katherman said that he met with the officials inside Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office about his involvement in the political action committee as well as his private consulting company called “Katherman Company.”

He said that he has divested his ownership in Katherman Co., which he claims amounted to around 35% of the total business.  “My wife owns the balance of the company and she writes and signs the checks, all I do is hand the checks to my wife and she takes it from there,” Katherman said.

Katherman also admitted that he “helped start the Clean and Affordable Water Committee” and the treasurer of the political group is David Gould, who is considered one of the most influential campaign treasurers in the entire state.  “David makes sure that we are legally compliant with all the Fair Political Practices Commission regulations,” he said.

Katherman said the he is “probably under the microscope now” with legal authorities, but did not say if he was under any type of formal criminal investigation.

“The public should be more interested in what is going on in these public water agencies, they are not interested enough, this is why we started the Coalition of Clean and Affordable Water.”

Katherman said that former Pico Rivera Mayor Ron Bielke was involved in creating the group with him, and mentioned that convicted felon, Ricardo “Ric” Mayer, wasn’t really involved in starting the group, “but has been involved in many ways.”

Mayer donated $13,000 to the coalition.

Also involved in the coalition is Angel Gonzalez, who is a local political advisor and commercial printer who recently made headlines after being appointed to a paid position as a Deputy to Compton Councilman Mario Galvan.  Gonzalez himself has been the focal point of legal cases involving political corruption having been convicted of a past felony that eventually was plead down to a misdemeanor.

Katherman also had the “indirect support” and involvement of powerhouse municipal attorney Francisco Leal, who had previously represented several cities and agencies in Southeast Los Angeles County including the city of Huntington Park before being removed after a series of critical articles about his billing practices became the focal point of a series of articles by HMG-CN.

“We actively solicited donations.  We wanted to get good government back into the office. Roybal and Vasquez had one big advantage, they were not the incumbents on the Board of Directors at the Central Basin Water District,” Katherman said.

Donations to the PAC also came from Mendoza for Central Basin, $5,000; $1500 from Kindel Gagen Public Affairs in L.A.; $2500 from the L.A. Law firm of Harris and Associates; $13,000 from Mayer;  and $7000 from Leal, $3,000 of that from a company called Legislative Advocacy Group that has the same address as Leal.

Katherman was recently called out in a recent article by the LA Times about his company dealing with LA City Councilman Curran Price and the apparent conflict of interest.

Katherman told HMG-CN, “I think it is simply that a reporter noticed my former company’s name on an agenda item a couple of weeks ago at the (Los Angeles) city council, and he (the reporter) was shocked that someone would come from the private sector and come back into the public sector, so I was wondering if he (the reporter) thinks that there is some other reason why I am doing this (working for Councilman Curran Price).”

“You would have to ask (the reporter) what his motivation was.  I mean he raises the question, is there a potential conflict of interest, and I think yes, there could be a conflict of interest, that’s why I recused myself. Those cases were in the past before I decided to come to work for Councilman Price,” he said.

Katherman said he could not “comment or speak on behalf of Councilman Price” as for what his reaction was regarding the lengthy article that appeared about him and his political dealings in the LA Times.

Katherman said that he is focused on economic development in the 9th District here in Los Angeles while working under Price. “I want to get people to come and invest in the 9th District, which is the poorest district in the city of Los Angeles.” He said that the median income of residents is around $26,000 per year and one-third of the residents do not own an automobile.

Ask if he had concerns about being so closely associated with political figures who had controversial political pasts, Katherman responded,  “We all make mistakes in life, I believe in redemption.”

“Seeking the truth is always a good thing.  We don’t want to see people take over, get public contracts, and then get their cousins jobs in government,” he stressed.

  • Hector Reyes says:

    Stunned! My God what next,when will the dirty corruption at Central Basin stop?
    What a bunch of thugs.