I Did Not Know This About Democratic Operative (Active in OC) Sue Burnside! Who’s Hired Her Again?


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Sue Burnside (center) at a dinner for “the Victory Fund “– but not THAT local OC “Victory Fund” … so far as I can tell, at this point.

From today’s The Nooner by Scott Lay (with some minor spell-checking and final-line emphasis added):

CAUGHT: The Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica is in trouble with the FPPC for asking employees to contribute to a political action committee and offering to reimburse them, reports Taryn Luna in the Bee. The committee was formed as an astroturf campaign to oppose an expansion of a neighboring hotel that would have eclipsed the ocean views of rooms at the Huntley. The FPPC will consider an astonishing $310,000 fine at its August 17 meeting, which the Huntley has agreed to.

The owner has also negotiated for an additional $10,000 fine.

The astroturf campaign was organized by longtime LA political operative Sue Burnside, who is known for hardball politics and walking the ethical tightrope.

It’s always nice to see the FPPC enforcing the laws against this sort of chicanery, but that’s not what got my attention.  It’s that last paragraph, about Sue Burnside.  I know that name!

While OJB has focused disproportionately on corrupt or otherwise disgusting Republican consultants over the past seven years — Dave Gilliard, Dave Ellis, Brett Barbre, and some others whom I’m either unsure are actually consultants or unsure are actually Republican — we don’t want to give the impression that everything is clean on the blue side of the aisle.  I’ve been hearing the name “Sue Burnside” a lot over the past few years, and I know that her firm is involved in some current campaigns.  But I’ve never heard until now that she is so well-known for “hardball politics and walking the ethical tightrope” that a normally stolid guy like Scott Lay can say so without even seeming to tremble.  Everybody knew this but me?  Darn!

Now if I could just remember who has hired her, and what they think about her reputation.  (And, uh, whether she’s walking the ethical tightrope — what could Scott mean by that? — for any of them.)  I suppose that we can check the records , now that they’re in, and ask.

Turns out that Sue Burnside is among other things, a lesbian activist with an LGBT political advocacy group called “Victory Fund“– which at least freaked me out because that’s the name of the PAC that DNC Member/Consultant Melahat Rafiei has run for former DPOC Chair Frank Barbaro, which just seemed unlikely to me.  I presume that there’s no connection, except for perhaps a trademark infringement case or something like that.  Anyway, judging by its home page, this group sounds like a good one and is presumably not part of what Scott Lay was referring to by an “ethical tightrope.”  OJB will follow up with the Nooner author.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)