Melahat Put Everyone Around Her Since 2019 at Risk

Footnote 4 is the same in both the California Attorney General Rod Bonta’s Application to Stay the Approval and Entry of the Proposed Stipulated Judgment (saying “whoa, wait a minute!” on finalizing the frankly weak resolution of the City of Anaheim’s violation of the Surplus Land Act) and the indictment in the Central District of California case of U.S. v. Ament (where it seems to be the first of what may be many violations of federal law brought in the case, against more defendants.)

It was written by FBI Special Agent Brian Adkins, and is now understood to apply to Melahat Rafiei, who at of Sunday May 15 was:

  • a member of the Democratic National Committee representing California
  • Secretary (and thus Executive Board Member) of the California Democratic Party
  • former Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Orange County
  • founder of the new Iranian Democrats of Orange County and a former VP of its state equivalent
  • Fair Board member appointed by Governor Newsom
  • principal of Progressive Solutions (a name that I’ve argued should generally be read in the way a pest control company might call itself “Termite Solutions)
  • a legendarily aggressive and prodigious fundraiser with for major candidates like Kevin de Leon
  • campaign manager to candidates including the completely blindsided and now likely baffled and bereft candidate for Mayor of Anaheim Ashleigh Aitken
  • cannabis entrepreneur extraordinaire (who, when acting as an agent for fellow cannabis enthusiast and Democratic Party of Orange County Chair, the late Frank Barbaro, managed to win some extraordinary proportion of the licenses raffled off by the Santa Ana government, then run by one of Barbaro’s business partners, Miguel Pulido
  • reputed primary advisor to current DPOC Chair Ada Briceno
  • advisor to embattled Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan
  • reputedly the brains behind the now-sputtering Orange County Power Authority (turning green energy into green)
  • Prime Advocate for her #1 client, former Anaheim Councilmember Jordan Brandman (until she had to dump him after some seriously awful texts he wrote became public)
  • Queen of the Fundraisers and the False Men; rightful heir to the Iron Chair of the State and possibly National Democratic Parties; the Inexplicably Unburnt; Khaleesi of the Great Grass; Princess of Dragginslime; Breaker of Chains; Collector of Endorsements, Keeper of Composure; and (so far as anyone in politics knew) Protector of the Realm of California Democrats (Apologies to those unfamiliar with Queen Daenerys of Game of Thrones; see the above link)
  • Also, though, an FBI informant who did god-knows-what to who-knows-whom, possibly manipulating people into self-incrimination statements on a tapped phone line (and for all we know maybe wearing a wire), so that she’d have more to bargain with in her search for leniency, even if it meant discrediting the Democratic Party in more ways than we may ever know
  • Cooperating Witness 1 (CW1 for short)
How powerful has Melahat been? In 2016, Hillary Clinton visited Santa Ana and was spotted posing with Melahat Rafiei, Jordan Brandman, and Jose Solorio. (Hillary’s advance person was then presumably fired.)

Now, where were we? Oh, yes: Special Agent Adkins’s Footnote 4 (emphasis is mine)

The FBI has been investigating CW1 since approximately 2018 for violations of federal criminal law to include 18 U.S.C. § 666 (theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds), among others. In July 2019, I sought court authorization to intercept electronic and wire communications over CW1’s phone. I was granted Title III authorization from the court and intercepted electronic and wire communications over CW1’s phone from approximately June 24, 2019 through July 23, 2019. On October 28, 2019, CW1 was arrested, pursuant to a complaint, for violating 18 U.S.C. § 666. CW1 was interviewed on the same day as CW1’s arrest, and CW1 subsequently agreed to cooperate with the FBI in this investigation. The complaint was dismissed without prejudice at the request of the government. Based on my interactions with CW1, and the interactions of other agents with CW1, particularly FBI SA Joseph Nieblas, I believe that CW1 has lacked candor at times during CW1’s assistance in this investigation. For example, I believe CW1 lied to FBI SAs during CW1’s interview on October 28, 2019. I also believe CW1 has omitted material facts to investigators throughout CW1’s cooperation with the FBI, including additional instances where CW1 has offered to pay bribes to elected public officials. However, the FBI has relied on information provided by CW1 in instances where such information has been deemed credible by way of corroboration. CW1’s counsel has indicated to the government that they wish to reach a resolution in this matter. Based on the government’s interaction with CW1 and CW1’s counsel, I believe CW1’s motive for cooperating in this investigation is to receive leniency for the federal criminal violation CW1 was originally arrested for, as well as other possible criminal conduct. The government has not made any promises of leniency to CW1 or CW1’s counsel. As of April 11, 2022, CW1 has no known criminal history.

So: Melahat was arrested on Oct. 28, 2019. Then Melahat ran for California Democratic Party Secretary in April 2021! That’s a year-and-a-half of potentially handing over information about party leadership to the FBI. Possibly even more in the year since her election. (I don’t expect that the FBI would be prone to clarify, but lack of trust for her would suggest a longer period of surveillance.)

In a sense, this is wonderful. I’m a reformer — and am no friend of most of the people leading the state party. If they were engaging in illegal acts, it’s appropriate that they be punished for them. On the other hand, if one party to a conversation knows that they’re being recorded and the other does not, it’s easy for the former to steer the unsuspecting latter party in directions that may be misleadingly incriminating. And Melahat is as canny as they come, agile in verbal conversation, and absolutely shameless. (On two or three occasions when I had a candidate opposing one of Melahat’s, she actually gave me some of her fundraising leads to, I inferred “show what a good sport she was.” What it actually accomplished was making me consider her one of the least trustworthy people I’d ever met.)

There’s also the problem, from a Democratic perspective, that politics is to some extent a zero-sum game — and some of my Republican friends are absolutely over the moon about this, dreaming about taking back state executive offices and making serious dents into the legislative leads. “Melahat” is going to become shorthand for Democratic slime and crime — never mind that so many that she actually ended up helping were Republicans like Mike Carroll and Harry Sidhu — and they will use her a bludgeon wherever and whenever they can. So that part of all this is not fun at all.

What this does provide the state and local parties is a chance to build back on a foundation of openness and honesty — or as much so as Democratic leaders can manage.

I didn’t even bother campaigning openly against Melahat for CDP Secretary last year — although I did some of it privately to friends in the party — because Melahat and her followers had done such a thorough job of poisoning the well against me — but I did warn them after she won the position that they would regret it. But I certainly didn’t expect this: 30 months after her arrest of acting like nothing’s wrong, that she was simply going about her normal ways, extending her empire. On reflection, though, I shouldn’t be surprised that she could pull off being the human equivalent of Covid-19, potentially infecting, and potentially destroying, everyone around her.

All in all, I feel quite fortunate at being excluded from the party at all levels during het 30 months post-arrest; I expect that otherwise I’d have been a convenient target. Those closest to her — Jordan, Farrah, the others on whom she informed — may wish that they were that lucky.

Oh — and I saved the worst thought for last. Is there anyone more likely to receive a pardon or sentence commutation, from either a Democratic President or Democratic Governor of California, than Melahat? She’ll be back someday, I suspect — and possibly with her rights restored. So … beware!

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr 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.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)