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News today on the legal front:
OCCORD sues Anaheim and four City Council members alleging violations of campaign finance and conflict of interest law in the $158 million Gardenwalk hotel subsidy deal
Anaheim, CA – On Friday, May 9, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD) filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court alleging that the City of Anaheim and four Anaheim City Council members violated campaign finance and conflict of interest laws in the vote taken May 14, 2013 to grant two Economic Assistance Agreements comprising a tax subsidy of $158 million to Gardenwalk Hotel I, LLC. A copy of the legal complaint is attached to this email.
A previous version of these Economic Assistance Agreements was voided following a 2012 lawsuit, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development et. al. v. City of Anaheim et. al., that found that the City had violated California’s open government law, the Brown Act, in the process of their approval.
The lawsuit details the following allegations:
· Conflict of Interest Violations by Council Members. The lawsuit alleges that Anaheim City Council members Kristine Murray, Jordan Brandman, Lucille Kring, and Gail Eastman knowingly accepted a total of at least $31,400 from persons or entities affiliated with Gardenwalk Hotel I, LLC, in violation of the aggregation rules and contribution limits of Anaheim’s Campaign Reform Law, and that these contributions were accepted in exchange for their votes in favor of the Economic Assistance Agreements and $158 million tax subsidy.
· Conflict of Interest Violations by Attorneys Representing the City. The lawsuit also alleges that the Economic Assistance Agreements are rendered void due to a conflict of interest arising from activities of the law firm Rutan & Tucker, LLP. Rutan & Tucker, LLP was retained to represent the City of Anaheim and Gardenwalk Hotel I, LLC as defendants in the 2012 lawsuit. It is alleged that this firm was involved in negotiating at least one of the material terms of the Economic Assistance Agreements and receiving compensation from Gardenwalk Hotel I, LLC, at the same time that the firm was representing the City in connection with the 2012 lawsuit.
Earlier this year, the Orange County District Attorney found that former Anaheim Councilmember Harry Sidhu received illegal excess campaign contributions to his supervisorial campaign from persons or entities affiliated with Gardenwalk Hotel I, LLC. In a negotiated settlement, Sidhu agreed to pay $1,700 – an amount equal to the illegal contribution – to the county general fund.
Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD) is a nonprofit organization committed to economic development that benefits everyone who lives and works in Orange County’s diverse communities.
- HERE is the lawsuit for your perusal!
- Voice of OC put up a good article going beyond this press release at 1:15 in the bloody morning; it’s worth reading.