Who is Carlos Bustamante?

Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante’s bio (pictured above with Tom Umberg) on the City of Santa Ana’s website, is something else. He asks you to believe that:

  • He was in the U.S. space command, with nukes at his command.
  • He was instrumental in the Cold War.
  • He was an L.A County Marshal.
  • He was with the State Board of Equalization.
  • He worked at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
  • He was a special ops narcotics officer.
  • He oversaw the County of Orange’s Marketing Program.
  • He was responsible for countywide information technology projects and managing the Orange County web team.
  • He was appointed to the Western Medical Center Governing Board.
  • He was nominated and inducted into the Santa Ana College Hall of Fame.
  • He joined the Professional Services Reserve for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, where he volunteers his time in the Aero Squadron assisting in surveillance, search & rescue and prisoner transfer missions.
  • He was appointed to the California Council on Criminal Justice by Governor Schwarzenegger.
  • His priorities are to enhance education, support business development and promote a positive City image. (I don’t know about that! Our co-blogger Sean Mill wrote about Bustamante’s true priorities).

Whew! And yet despite all those alleged accomplishments, Bustamante’s political career now appears to be on life support. How did that happen? Let’s take a look at “Who is Carlos Bustamante?”

I first met Bustamante at a campaign event held at the Green Parrot Cafe, in Santa Ana. He was working the room like a seasoned pro. I finally had a chance to talk to him one on one and he told me that Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido had told him he could not support his campaign, because there were “already too many Mexicans” on the Santa Ana City Council.

I was very impressed. At last a candidate who would have the guts to take on Pulido! Alas, once he won the right to represent Ward 3 on the Santa Ana City Council his true colors came out. We had all been fooled.

During the council campaign Pulido had supported Sandy Nalle. So of course I opposed Nalle. But in retrospect it is now obvious that Nalle was not his boy. Bustamante was.

I wasn’t the only one duped by Bustamante. Here is a list of those who supported him in his 2004 council race. As you would imagine, the list is populated by a plethora of GOP hacks and Usual Suspects – and a few good people who bought his B.S., hook, line and sinker.

Bustamante got his job at the County of Orange because of Pulido’s old friend, former Santa Ana Councilman Rob Richardson. I did not know that when Bustamante was running for office, otherwise I might have figured out the scheme to get Bustamante elected.

Bustamante, a Republican, connived the anti Pulido residents, while reaching out to Pulido’s power base in north Santa Ana. Santa Ana Parks and Recreation Commissioner Julie Stroud was one of his biggest backers. So was former Parks and Recreation Commissioner Tim Whitacre.

So what happened once Bustamante got elected? Not only did he become Pulido’s lapdog, he also became an even bigger Republican hack. My co-blogger Claudio Gallegos wrote a post that revealed the extent to which Bustamante ignored his ward while he tried to move to a higher office. And Carlos neatly summarized the many lies coming out of Bustamante’s mouth:

Carlos began on a bad note, when (after being a little more against it than for it) he took a stand supporting One Broadway Plaza, even though it was obvious the residents of Ward 3 felt differently. In the end Ward 3 was the one ward where Measure A was defeated, yet Carlos did not listen to his own constituents. He promised them he would support Mayoral term limits, he broke that promise. He promised to televise the second council meeting, he broke that promise. He promised a massive plan to create more parks in Santa Ana, we are still waiting for that plan.

Bustamante did indeed decide to run for the First Supervisorial District. And before his campaign had officially started, he appeared at a fundraiser I wrote about where he compared himself to Forrest Gump, the goofy movie character who was always in the right place at the right time. Event hosts Pulido and Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle were said to have been shocked by Bustamante’s comment. According to friends of mine who were there, their mouths hung open while O.C. Supervisor Chris Norby broke out laughing.

Another goofy Bustamante moment occurred when he told fellow Republican Ryan Gene Williams that he could not endorse him for the 69th Assembly District without first talking to Democratic Santa Ana Councilman Jose Solorio, who was running against Williams. Unbelievable! You can read about it here.

Bustamante was shockingly selected as the Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem, so he could brag about that during his Supervisorial campaign. But that backfired too when Pulido left a Council meeting early and Bustamante had to take over. I wrote about that infamous meeting here, and here is an excerpt:

Bustamante showed us all what he is about at this week’s Santa Ana Council Meeting. He was an abject embarrassment. Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez had to step in and run the meeting after Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido left abruptly, ostensibly to attend some kind of night court. Mayor Pro Tem Bustamante was flailing away, utterly ignorant as to how to run the meeting, when Alvarez took the lead and showed him how it should be done.

Later in his Supervisorial campaign, Bustamante was endorsed by Minuteman Lupe Moreno, who had dropped out of her own campaign for the First District. Oops! That did not help Bustamante’s ham-fisted attempts to curry favor with the district’s Latino voters. Then Bustamante said he was both for and against Sheriff Carona’s ICE program, which targeted Latino immigrants in particular. That did not help Bustamante’s campaign either!

Then Republican Kermit Marsh, a Westminster Councilman, dropped out of the Supervisorial race too. And he also endorsed Bustamante. Not that it mattered. SAUSD Trustee Rosie Avila also endorsed him. But his own party did not.

I later wrote about how Bustamante abused property rights to enrich car dealers.

Then Bustamante really stepped in it. He sent out a misleading mailer. I wrote about that too. Here is an excerpt:

I saw a mailer this evening that has to be the most misleading mailer of the campaign. I have provided a scan of the mailer below, courtesy of our friends at the Liberal OC Blog. On the front it states that it is the “Independent Democratic Voters Guide” with the Democratic Party logo of the donkey on the front. Inside the mailer is a skewed comparison of Carlos Bustamante and Tom Umberg. There are outright lies on Umberg, claiming he was forced out of the military, when in fact he voluntarily retired. At the bottom it claims that Carlos Bustamante is the ONLY choice for Democrats.

And then the DPOC and their candidate, Tom Umberg, woke up and sent out two mailers blasting Bustamante for his anti-immigrant views and his support by GOP right wingers. It was the beginning of the end for Bustamante’s Supervisorial campaign.

Bustmante’s campaign advisor, Tim Whitacre, later tried to engineer his endorsement by the Libertarian Party of Orange County. Sorry Carlos! That failed too.

I then wrote about who was giving Bustamante money. Mostly car dealers, tow truck companies and something called the “Saddleback Turkey Ranch.” How appropriate!

Bustamante’s next stop was a Supervisorial candidate’s debate in Santa Ana, where he took credit for ending the Cold War. Must have been another Forrest Gump moment!

We also caught Bustamante when he apparently failed to report a massive gift from a supporter.

And then Election Day was here and I predicted that then Garden Grove Councilwoman Janet Nguyen would win. She did. I predicted that Bustamante would get 13% of the vote and he ended up with 16.5%, which put him in fourth place. And just like that he was DONE. You can see the results here. Even his few supporters left his campaign party early and went to other campaign parties.

Bustamante goofed again a few weeks later at a Council meeting where he finally revealed that he launched his career in law enforcement as a security guard at the Bowers Museum. My co-blogger Claudio Gallegos and our Liberal OC amigo Mike Lawson had some fun with that one (see the picture above).

In the past few months Bustamante has led the charge on some truly ridiculous issues:

Bustamante now faces a tough reelection campaign next year. We don’t have an opponent to run against him yet, but we will. Sean Mill wrote a very well read post recently about the need to focus on Ward 3. It is merely a matter of time before someone takes on Bustamante.

In the meantime, I will now leave it to our readers to tell us the rest of the story, about “Who is Carlos Bustamante?”

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.