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Asm. Cristina Garcia Took Thousands From Companies Who Thirst for Central Basin Water Receivership


BY BRIAN HEWS • May 31, 2020

This past week, Hews Media Group was first to report that Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell) co-sponsored SB 625, a bill that would place Commerce-based Central Basin Municipal Water District, a public agency with elected officials, into receivership.

The bill would dissolve the current board of directors and cancel the November 2020 election.

The agency has its problems but they are not endemic; directors who were appointed under Garcia’s AB 1724, passed in 2016, are not allowing the agency to move forward with its regular business.

The appointed directors have banded together with Garcia, elected Director Bob Apodaca, three CB employees, and water purveyors inside CB’s boundaries in an attempt to eliminate and transfer the assets of the agency.

Among other things, the directors and employees leave meetings and refuse to write checks to cover crucial expenses – all while cutting payroll to themselves.

Garcia wants receivership despite the fact that there are no safety issues with the water, the agency has the revenue to cover expenses, boasts $8 million in reserves and owns an $8 million building free and clear.

But an HMG investigation could stop all that and cause Assembly and Senate officials to think twice about Garcia’s bill and stop the attempted privatization of Los Angeles’ water system.

An examination of several campaign finance documents on FollowtheMoney.org and the California Secretary of State’s website Cal-Access has revealed a complex web of relationships and monetary donations related to elected officials favoring CB’s take over.

The investigation found that Garcia took thousands from water purveyors inside Central Basin Municipal Water’s boundaries, the same purveyors causing problems inside the agency itself.

In addition, the documents showed several possible campaign finance violations.

The same water purveyors inside CB boundaries that gave money to Garcia donated thousands to several political action committees (PAC’s), with the PAC’s turning around and giving money to Garcia.

Finally, the investigation found a massive web of donations – from the same purveyors and PAC’s that gave to Garcia – paid to elected officials who have their name on SB 625.

Influential names such as Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Ian Calderon, and Steven Bradford, who co-authored and is carrying the bill.

Bradford’s co-authoring of the bill has many scratching their head; his district has very little to do with CB, unlike Sen. Lena Gonzales and Sen. Bob Archuleta who command 99% of CB’s area.

Blatant Conflicts

The donations by the individual water purveyors and PAC’s to candidates present a laundry list of conflicts, implications of pay-to-play and possible campaign finance violations.

The purveyors who gave money are all inside Central Basin’s boundaries including Whittier-based San Gabriel Valley Water; Whittier-based Cadway/California Domestic Water; Downey-based Park Water and Liberty Utilities.

One of the most questionable donations was by San Gabriel Valley Water, who donated $16,900 to Garcia.

SGVW is current Garcia-appointed CB Director Dan Arrighi’s employer.

Arrighi,  who is an ally of Director Bob Apodaca, has been adamant about stopping all business at CB, constantly leaving meetings and unwilling to negotiate a truce brokered by CB’s current attorney Anthony Willoughby.

Park Water is based in the city of Downey and is on the Assembly record supporting Garcia’s bill.

Park buys water from CB and delivers to Downey, Downey’s Assistant City Manager is John Oskoui, another Garcia-appointed director who currently sits on the CB’s board.

Oskoui has been even more destructive in his efforts to take over CB, pulling agenda items involving litigation off closed session meetings without informing other Directors and nearly defaulting on the questionable termination lawsuit filed by former CB General Manager Kevin Hunt.

Liberty Utilities counts as one of its employees Frank Heldman, another dysfunctional Garcia appointed CB Director who resigned under a shadow of corruption after an HMG article found Heldman filing false 700’s. He also attempted to broker a deal between Liberty and Sativa Water while a Director at CB.

Individual Company Donations to Candidates

Arrighi’s company, San Gabriel Valley Water, gave Garcia-

  • $4,700 in 2012
  • $4,700 in 2014
  • $3,000 in 2016
  • $2,500 in 2018
  • and just recently gave $2,000 in 2020.

SGVW gave Speaker Rendon $5,600 from 2014-2016 and gave Calderon $6,500 from 2014-2018.

California Domestic Water Company, also known as Cadway, is another water purveyor in CB’s area; Cadway gave Garcia $2,500 in 2016 and $2,200 in 2018.

But these companies, with already questionable connections, did not stop at the individual level, donating over $128,000 to PAC’s that would eventually support Garcia, Rendon, Calderon, and Bradford.

Individual Company Donations to PAC’s

 Three PAC’s were beneficiaries of the SGVW, Liberty/Park, and Cadway donations:

  • California Water Association
  • California Association of Mutual Water Companies
  • Consumers for Clean Water.

The California Water Association was the biggest recipient, garnering over $58,000 in donations; second was Consumers for Clean Water who took in  $21,600 from Cadway and $22,100 from SGVW. Last was California Association of Mutual Water Companies, who took in $25,900 from the apparent cash-cow Cadway.

PAC’s Donations to Candidates

The CWA, flush with money donated by water purveyors who have a clear conflict of interest, donated to all the major players involved with SB 625. The donations are total numbers:

  • $7,500 to Garcia (2012, ’14, ’16, ’18)
  • $5,000 to Rendon (2014)
  • $5,800 to Calderon (2012, ’16,’18)
  • $9,000 to Bradford (2012, ’16)

And in what looks like pay-to-play, CWA gave Bradford, who is carrying the bill and who is up for re-election in November, $3,000.


 Information from Followthemoney.org showing CWA giving Bradford $3,000


Next in line was Consumers for Clean Water who took in $43,700 from Cadway and SGVW; Consumers gave Rendon $4,100.

Last was the California Association of Mutual Water Company PAC. After taking $25,900 from Cadway, the PAC turned around and gave Garcia $2,000 in 2016 and $3,200 in 2018.

The Conflicts Continue

HMG has obtained the agenda for the Assembly hearing on SB 625  in Sacramento tomorrow by the Committee on Local Government.

The lone argument for support of the bill is from the city of Downey, and is an almost exact copy of what current CB Director John Oskoui authored and read into the record at a Downey City Council meeting.

Also supporting the bill is the California Association of Mutual Water Company ($5,200 to Garcia) and the California Water Association ($7,500 to Garcia).

Garcia’s first bill passed in 2016; during that year, the companies and PAC’s cited in this investigation gave $53,300.

$10,500 (19%) went to Garcia.

In 2018, the companies and PAC’s cited in this investigation gave $54,100; $9,400 (17%) went to Garcia.

This year, the two authors of the bill took $5,000 in donations; Bradford from a company who is on the record supporting SB 625 and Garcia from a company that has an employee on the Central Basin Board as a Director who wants to see an agency takeover.

Now Bradford and Garcia are paying them back.

CB Director Art Chacon told HMG, “Senate Bill 625 is an attempt to privatize a public water agency and deny the public their right to elect their representatives. Central Basin is not in financial dire straits nor fiscally unstable. The issue with Central Basin is a local political battle between private water companies and Central Basin. This bill lacks transparency and smacks of a blatant power grab by special interests. Central Basin is currently in litigation which will address the very issues in SB 625. The author of this bill never reached out to CBMWD nor communicated any concern of Central Basin’s operations. SB 625 should not be voted out of committee and let Central Basin handle its own political battles.”

That presents another reason for Garcia to ram the bill through as quickly as possible.

A superior court case – where several Central Basin cities, including Downey and Lakewood, and purveyors are a party in suing Central Basin – will be heard July 23.

It is the question of whether the current seven seats on CB’s board constitutes a majority. HMG talked to two attorneys who indicated Central Basin’s case is strong.

Sources have told HMG that Garcia does not want the majority on CB’s Board to be elected representatives, but rather she wants her appointees, who represent the privatization of water, as the majority, which would mean more donations to her campaigns in the future.



















  • Mark G. From Pico says:

    I don’t care how you shake it, explain how these private “for profit” water companies can hold seats meant for publicly elected representatives on ”Public Boards” that set water rates that those “for profit” companies eventually pay?

    People need to understand that these private companies make money for their shareholders. Therefore, where do you think their loyalties stand?

    Garcia’s bill that TOOK AWAY THE WILL OF THE VOTERS is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. She basically is saying that the voter in the Central Basin area are too stupid to elect their own representatives?!?!

    Actually, I think I get her point since she’s a drunk who grabs the crotches of her male staff, sleeps with married men and has a reputation as a free piece of asa up in Sacramento.

  • Calderon Flunkie From the Days says:

    Dan Arrighi says to look up how much Leticia Vasquez “took” from HIS San Gabriel Valley Water, but the real question is how much has SGVW has “given” to her.

    It was SGVW’s decision to donate to her campaign. She’s a candidate for election/re-election every four years just like Trump, Newsom, Garcia and all the others. That takes money.

    On the other hand, why does SGVW give her money? Because they want something. They are courting favor with an elected official who makes decisions on raising the cost of the water that they in turn sell to their customers. That’s how THEY make money.

    The problem that Arrighi helped make so clear here is now that he’s on the Board of a water wholesaler like Central Basin, will HIS company SGVW give HIM money too? Why not, isn’t the reason they gave Leticia Vasquez money that they want to court favors?? Now do you see why it’s so fricken’ unethical for SGVW to have their 39 year employees sitting on the very Board of the agency they BUY water from!!!

    Arrighi has never been the sharpest tool in the shed and should have kept his mouth shut, but what do you expect from one of the Calderon-brothers closest ally.

    The simple truth here is that his employer routinely BUYS elected officials and RIGHT NOW THEIR GOAL IS TO DESTROY CENTRAL BASIN. By putting it into receivership they will plot to sell it off to companies just like Arrighi’s and then those BIG CAMPAIGN donations will flow straight to Garcia, Rendon, Bradford, CALDERON, Gipson and so on.

    What a sinister plan. Dan Arrighi, if you don’t like Leticia Vasquez TAKING money from SGVW, then just don’t give it. At least be man enough to to say you gave her money to buy her and she couldn’t be bought. Don’t blame the player, blame the game bro! But like I said, Arrighi is not known for being the brightest bulb in the lamp.

  • Dirty Diaper Don says:

    I’ve said it one, I’ll say it again. Bob Apodaca needs to take his final crap in his pants and die while on the dais. History will prove that he was the cancer all along. It was his doings that lead to every scandal that ever plagued the water district. Like Mark said above, it really comes down to amazingly stupid voters.