As voters were successively nauseated by the three vicious hit pieces mailed against Huntington Beach Council candidate Jill Hardy, a lot of people started asking who was responsible. The pieces were vile, filled with lies, and very personal.
And it’s not as if this filth is being hurled at some lazy cynical politician like Matthew Harper, currently making a pit stop at the City Council level on his way up a career ladder, while he collects a no-work paycheck in some County agency. Jill Hardy is a genuinely good person, an active participant in her church’s music program and youth ministry, devoted to her job as a high school math teacher, a caring mother of young children. As an elected official Jill Hardy has always been polite and respectful, in sharp contrast to the smarmy Don Hansen, who nastily berates residents who speak in public comments. In her eight years on the City Council, she took the time to listen carefully to each public speaker, to meet with neighbors, and to study issues in depth. Jill is the public representative we all want but rarely find.
The smear mailers refer to actual incidents, but are viciously slanted with outright lies. One piece is devoted to the crocodile tears of crazy Tammy Agajanian. Her son, who was over 18 at the time, caught the flu when he was on a field trip with the Model United Nations program in Moscow where Jill Hardy was one of the leaders. The young man received medical attention, accompanied by one of the male leaders, and got better. Is this “child endangerment,” as it is referred to in the hate mail? Considering that every legal definition of the term refers to a child under the age of 18, and it is a legal term, this would be libel, pure and simple, if Jill were not considered a “public figure.”
The pieces are most disturbing because they are so personal, and so deeply insult the core of Jill’s values and her chosen career as a high-school teacher. But they are even worse because they serve as an object lesson for any decent person who wants to run for elected office in Orange County. Cowardly bullies are willing to come after you with a huge sums of money, and they will say anything, do anything to take you down.
So we started asking what sort of sick bastard could have come up with this crap. And more importantly, who would have funded something like this.
That’s where the record starts showing that the assholes who did this are not just mean, but they are also cowards, violating campaign disclosure laws to hide the source of the funds.
The pieces do have the required disclosure language. They are paid for by the Atlas PAC, a far-right membership PAC devoted to “life, liberty, and the pursuit” as their website proclaims. And if Atlas PAC and their scumbac Sacramento professional treasurer, David Bauer, were following the law, we would be able to click on this link and see who contributed the $70,000 to pay for the hit pieces. But we see that Atlas PAC had less than $3,000 in the bank as of September 30th, 2012, and they have chosen not to file their campaign reports on time for the period ending October 20th.
They face a certainty that they will be fined by the FPPC, but that’s not a very big deal. Their campaign treasurer with the Sacramento Wayne Johnson agency, David Bauer, conspired with the supporters of Proposition 8 and didn’t disclose over a million dollars in late contributions before the 2008 election. Two years after their violations, and after a thorough audit, Bauer and his client subsequently negotiated a fine of $49,000, which critics decried as a typical slap on the wrist for egregious and deliberate violations of campaign finance laws.
So we don’t know who paid for this crap. A check of the usual suspects like OCBIZPAC, OCTAXPAC, the Lincoln Club, and right wing politicos shows no contributions to Atlas PAC reported on their filings to the FPPC or FEC.
But we have a pretty good idea who orchestrated it. At an Atlas PAC fundraiser at Old World Village on Sunday, Benjamin Pugh, an Atlas PAC director, was “strutting around with a shit-eating grin on his face, receiving slaps on the back from his knuckle-dragging friends, ” according to reports from a source who prefers to remain anonymous. Pugh is the only Director of Atlas PAC who lives in Huntington Beach, and a quick search of the Google shows that he hosted a reception for Matthew Harper’s aborted Assembly campaign at his Huntington Beach home at 606 Delaware.
Pugh was a contemporary of Jill Hardy’s in high school, where we can bet he didn’t sit with the cool kids, although he was is in the Edison’s tennis hall of fame for 1989-90. A contemporary of his at Edison remembers, “He was a liar and a cheat then.”
So the best guess is that the anti-Jill slime campaign was hatched by Pugh, Huntington Beach Council Member Matthew Harper, and Harper’s much shorter look-alike, “Toll Lane” Don Hansen. Hansen, once seen as an up and coming Republican star, is now termed out, but is still attempting to do further damage to the City of Huntington Beach with his Measure Z campaign, which will strip millions from the city budget after he is out of office.
Hansen has failed dismally during the last few years. The family political consulting business, Red Zone Strategies, was a disaster in the 2010 campaign, as his candidates paid exorbitant consulting fees to his wife’s business and then lost.
Council majorities handed Hansen defeats on employee contracts, Hansen’s foolish attempt to outsource the City Attorney’s department, and on his attempt to put fireworks on the ballot as a Charter amendment. Hansen couldn’t even muster a majority of his fellow Republicans to support him on his efforts to add toll lanes to the 405 Freeway.
But there’s still the money. Somebody pitched in close to $90,000 to mail around 200,000 pieces of four-color 8 ½ by 11 flats to Huntington Beach voters. That’s a lot of money for a city the size of Huntington Beach, and it is a huge sum to go after one candidate. The only candidate who has raised over $50,000 this cycle is the besotted Tim Ryan, whose money will buy him something like seventh place.
If they were so proud of what they’ve done to Jill, Benjamin Pugh and the other directors at Atlas PAC would be anxious to disclose the source of the money, but these people are liars and cowards. They do not want voters to know who paid for their lies. They are hoping to do what their scum-sucking treasurer David Bauer does so well, hide the money, violate the law, and negotiate their fine down as a cost of doing business.
Every Huntington Beach voter should also make sure that they are NOT voting for the three candidates endorsed by Atlas PAC – Devin Dwyer, Dave Sullivan, and Erik Peterson, or Travis Allen. ( Dwyer has made some lame comments claiming he’s not a member of Atlas PAC, and that the mailers are “uncalled for.”)