Jorge Lopez’s Accusations Lead OCDA to Charge Webster Guillory with Three Felonies. Now Vote for Guillory.

Assessor Candidates 2014

Lopez (left) raised legitimate complaints about misconduct by Guillory (right); now will Parrish (center) be able to skate into office without answering any real questions?

[UPDATE: If you’re interested in this story from Tuesday, you’ll probably also want to read our follow-up from Wednesday, where OJB asks the questions that apparently do not occur to others.]

As predicted in the OJB story “Vote Lopez for Assessor, Because Whether by Guilt or Guile, Guillory’s Goose is Cooked” back before the June primary, Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory is being charged with felonies due to his turning in falsified nomination papers on March 7 — in the last hour of the last day of filing for that position.  The charges were raised by his former whistle-blowing employee and challenger for the position of Assessor, Jorge Lopez.

And, as also predicted here, in the OJB story “JORGE LOPEZ Complaint on Guillory Sigs: the Final Pre-Election Word from the DA is … Silence!,” OCDA Tony Rackauckas did not take any action on those charges prior to the election, when it could have given voters a choice between Lopez and former Board of Equalization member Claude Parrish, and now has taken action on the charges in time to help the campaign of the OCGOP-endorsed Parrish.

As it is, despite his being underfunded, Lopez’s presence in the race prevented Guillory from beating Parrish by less than 10% of the vote for a second time in June.  (As Lopez endorsed by the Democratic Party and Parrish by the Republican Party, with Guillory an independent, it’s likely that Lopez’s votes would have gone disproportionately to Guillory.

* WEBSTER GUILLORY 135,210 46.4%
CLAUDE PARRISH 128,839 44.2%
JORGE O. LOPEZ 27,658 9.5%

(That low vote total for Lopez is largely the cost of his being unable to afford Orange County’s huge, competition-deterring, ballot statements for countywide races — something that, as the saying goes, “is no accident.”)

Guillory is no longer the issue here.  Win or lose the November election, his goose is now entirely cooked.  The issue now is Rackauckas, who time and again just happens to ignore wrongdoing among Republicans and to focus on wrongdoing among those that challenge them.  (For the purpose of this statement, certain favored Democrats — see the current fracas surrounding Miguel Pulido — are treated as “honorary Republicans.”)

So what does one do in the upcoming election?  That’s easy: vote for Guillory!  He’ll probably never take office again (if he even lasts until the end of this term), but the OCDA’s machinations that always seem to work out helping Republican electeds and insider aspirants are intolerable.

If Guillory wins, we have a situation similar to what we had when Tom Daly left the City Clerk’s office for the State Assembly.  The Board of Supervisors had to replace him — and was under substantial scrutiny as they did so.  After a process in which highly connected Republicans from all over were considered — Dick Ackerman, Chris Norby, Bruce Peotter, Renee Ramirez — they chose someone with a reputation for both honesty and competence: Hugh Nguyen, who was re-elected this June.

That — rather than anointing Parrish because his competition got whacked — would be the best way to ensure that the most qualified, competent, and honest County Official is appointed.  I have no idea whether Lopez would submit his name — but the longtime Assessor’s Office supervisor would stack up well against Parrish, who may be a bit chummy with big real estate holding interests in the County.  And there may be others as or more qualified than Lopez who are interested in the job as well.  If Parrish can compete with them on competence, rather just connections, then I wouldn’t feel like the County got jobbed by his election.  But, if he gets appointed despite his relatively lower experience to serve, compared to Lopez et al., then the Supervisors will have to personally own the results.

That would not be some huge Success Story of Democracy — but it’s as close as we can get sometimes in Orange County.  So vote for the guy who’s been indicted — without worrying about his continuing to mess up the office — until and unless we manage to get a political system that doesn’t smell.

Here’s the press release that just came out today:

September 9, 2014

Case # TBA

ORANGE COUNTY ASSESSOR WEBSTER GUILLORY CHARGED WITH FILING FALSE NOMINATION PAPERS IN PRIMARY ELECTION

SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney has charged Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory with filing false nomination papers in a re-election bid for County Assessor in the March 2014 Orange County primary election. Webster James Guillory, 70, Newport Beach, is charged with three felony counts of filing false nomination papers and faces a possible sentence ranging from probation up to four years and four months in jail if convicted. He is expected to be released on his own recognizance and arraigned Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. at the Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The Department is to be determined.

At the time of the incident, Guillory was the four-term elected County Assessor for the Orange County Office of the Assessor.

Background Information

To appear as an Assessor candidate on the ballot for a primary election, a person must file required paperwork, including nomination papers, with the Registrar of Voters by 5:00 p.m. on the filing deadline date. A nomination paper is a petition that can be signed by Orange County registered voters to support the candidacy of/nominate the candidate. Each petition page has space for 10 voter signatures. For the Office of Assessor, a candidate must submit 20 valid signatures of registered voters on nomination papers to qualify as a candidate and appear on the ballot.

Nomination papers cannot legally be accepted by the Registrar of Voters unless an affidavit is signed at the end of each page by the signature collector stating that he/she personally circulated the nomination paper and witnessed the signatures being written. The signature collector does not need to be the candidate, but the actual signature collector must be the person to sign each affidavit.

Circumstances of the Case

The filing deadline for the 2014 Orange County primary election was March 7, 2014, at 5:00 p.m.

On the afternoon of March 7, 2014, Guillory collected signatures on two petitions, nine on the first and two on the second. Guillory is accused of also receiving petitions circulated by his associate, who gathered and collected three full pages of 10 signatures each.

Knowing that he had not personally collected the signatures or witnessed them being written, Guillory is accused of signing his name on two of the 10-signature petitions collected by his associate under the affidavit that reads, “I circulated the petition and witnessed the signatures on this section of the nomination paper being written.” He is accused of requesting another colleague to falsely sign the third petition.

Shortly before the end-of-day filing deadline, Guillory is accused of fraudulently filing the three nomination papers at the Registrar of Voters, knowing the information each contained about who had personally circulated the petitions and collected the signatures was untrue.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation received a confidential complaint and investigated this case.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

Parrish should be grateful for Lopez’s presence in the race — and for Lopez’s expertise, if (as one hopes) Parrish plans on running an honest and competent office.  Maybe he should be willing to let the uniformly Republican Board of Supervisors have the last say.  He won’t, of course — which is why the voters, if they want to see any real debate over how the Assessor’s Office is run, will have to do it for him.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)