Chaffee Lets Hate Crime Braggart James Mai Start Full County Commission Term

(0) Preface and Correction: Not Technically a ‘Reappointment’

The original form of this story stated that the Board of Supervisors would be voting on whether to appoint James Mai, who had served on the Commission in question since January 2022, to a new full term beginning July 1, 2022. That turned out to be not quite correct: Mai automatically stays in place until he is removed, so he begins his new term in due course. The text has bee revised appropriately; the inappropriateness of this appointment based on what you read below, however, remains the same.)

(1) Intro: County Commissioner Who Bragged of Hate Crime Starts Full Term

First, contact info for Board of Supervisors:

Most of this story will not involve Supervisor Doug Chaffee directly; he comes in mostly at the end. But he is the second-most significant figure in this story, because he is the one who appointed, and still retains, the most significant figure in the story — James Mai — as an At-Large Commissioner for County Housing and Community Development. Mai’s starting a new full term is what drove the timing of this story, which cam more quickly than I had hoped. The Supervisors should know exactly what is going on here.

The third-most significant person in this story is a woman that our readers have come to know as “Love Cameron,” or “LC”; I will continue to use that name for her here for reasons that will become clear. The fourth most-significant person in this story, is, I’m sorry to say, me — and I dearly wish that we had a larger stable of writers so that I could have handed it off. But Vern’s been busy and I don’t plan to say anything here that wouldn’t be found in a court filing.

I’ve compiled this story from notes and images provided by LC, removing the invective (which I estimate as less than 80% of what she provided me), and putting it into my own words. The important thing to know is that when LC spread the news about James Mai (who is Southeast Asian) bragging about either an actual or made-up hate crime against South Asians that he claimed to have committed, LC publicized his Instagram post to the South Asian community. Not all Hell broke lose, but Hell is probably missing a few city blocks.

And yes, Supervisor Chaffee knows about this — or at a minimum can be constructively credited with the knowledge. LC and others posted information about James Mai onto his Facebook page — and those posts have been removed. (They were also posted to Supervisor Andrew Do’s Facebook page, where at last inspection they remained.)

(2) Disclosure: My Role in This Matter

I agreed to represent LC (despite our considerable political differences) in an action against James Mai, and probably the County for its negligent supervision of him, over his harassment, discrimination, and retaliation towards her, which has included “doxxing.” (For the uninitiated, doxxing means publicly releasing private information about a person with the foreseeable purpose of retaliating, intimidating, or provoking actual harm towards them. You’ll be able to make up your own mind about this below.

This is not just a “normally” unpalatable doxxing, however; LC’s name and residence information are supposed to be held private under the California Secretary of State’s “Safe at Home” program, which protects people who have suffered previous victimization and have good reason to fear its recurrence. (This may have something to do with her proclivity towards electric blue streaks of cursing, which I have learned to ignore by fainting like one of those goats.)

I spoke to the Housing and Community Development Commission (“HCDC”) a week and a half ago and lamented (with a side order of fulminated) about how it was apparently impossible to lodge a complaint against an HCDC County Commissioner, because they are not county employees and are not involved directly in public safety.

In this case, though, it does affect public safety, because we believe that James Mai would have access to the confidential “Safe at Home” data via his role as an At-Large HCDC Commissioner. In fact, he would continue to have access to it even if LC were to leave the County. This is because, we are given to understand (and we’d welcome correction on that, if the Committee were even willing to engage with us), the At-Large Commissioners are responsible for Section 8 Housing Vouchers — one of which a member of LC’s household has — James Mai having direct access to this information, or even being in a position where he could importune someone to provide it to him, is a significant danger to LC.

But is he really that kind of guy? Read on.

(3) History: Some ‘Highlights’ of James Mai’s Career

In late January of this year, Supervisor Doug Chaffee appointed James Mai to the OC Housing and Community Development Commission. I have a feeling that Chaffee did not due his due diligence.

I suspect that Chaffee had two tactical motivations. He expected that he would be in a runoff against Buena Park Mayor Sunny Park, who is Korean — not realizing that he would only make the runoff by the skin of his teeth. So one thing he wanted to do was to shore up his relationship with the Asian community — apparently thinking that a Vietnamese appointee would appeal to North Orange County’s large Korean and Taiwanese communities. Mai is also an “Anti-Asian Hate” activists — though as you’ll see, that is quite a misleading self-description.

And speaking of misleading self-descriptions, due diligence should have directed Chaffee to this:

Do you see the problem? He calls himself — in promoting his business! — “James Mai, Esq.

This is a problem because James Mai is not a lawyer! (Or, if he is one, it is not by that name, or at least in this state.) Any clients who engaged him under the misconception that he had a law degree — well, that’s a highly and materially improper business practice, and if anyone wanted to bring a fraud suit against him — well, I’m sure you could find a referral.

(I do give him a point for being unconventional, though. A non-lawyer using “Esq.” after their name is certainly that. And maybe Chaffee doesn’t mind it — even in his appointees!)

James Mai had a second sort of appeal to Chaffee. Chaffee also knew that if was going to beat Sunny Park, he would have to do so with the help of a massive amount of Republican voters. James Mai is very well connected within the Republican Party. He is a recent leader of the Greater Irvine Republicans. He also has had (and maybe has had) a position within the county Republican Party dealing with Asian candidate recruitment voter outreach.

Boxing at shadows? Or just preening?

Handing it over to LC for a moment for the Republican view of all this:

James Mai is a fixture in local politics. An establishment (anti-Trump) Republican, he has built a name for himself as a behind-the-scenes stage director in the freak show that is the OCGOP.  The county chapter of the Republican party where the unethical and unprincipled masquerade as public servants, while stealing, cheating and lying their way to elected office – from city councils to Congress. Some get busted and fall from grace. Others get really COLD busted and just get shown more love. It depends on the whims of the powers that be in the cult-like inner sanctum called the Central Committee. As a voting member of the central committee and frequent, generous donor to GOP endorsed candidates, James Mai presents himself as a larger-than-life figure dominating the local political landscape. This article will endow him with well-deserved notoriety — with extra, king-size helpings of humiliation piled on for good measure.

Note to James Mai — what I did with your phone number is called “redaction,” and it done to avoid doxxing. Now you know.

It was apparently in his Republican operative capacity that James Mai ginned up a fake controversy to hurt Jay Chen in his drive to make it into Congress. (With this attack, he displayed the consummate dishonesty and hateful gall that was exhibited when another GOP operative turned a recording in which she said “Why’d he” into her saying “Whitey.”)

You may even remember this attack on Chen:

Jay Chen did no such thing, but — WITH CHAFFEE’S HELP — Mai may have the credibility to make this stick, even though he could only muster about 50 folks to his bacchanal of fake outrage. It still made a big media splash, from his promoting it to conservative-leaning Asian news outlets, to whom he lied about it voraciously. It was eventually picked up my the traditional media. Good lying, Chaffee-pick!

Sure looks like 10,000 people to me! But then again, this is a guy who seems to have trouble distinguishing 4000 from 40.

Now, did it actually help Michelle Steel to have Mai jacking up he campaign by painting her as a long-suffering victim of Taiwanese racism? It doesn’t seem so. But it gave him a spotlight, his appetite for which appears ravenous.

This in turn led him to something that may get him in trouble. He created a nonprofit organization, AAPI United, that claims to draw attention to “Asian Hate.” Something, incidentally, that Jay Chen has been doing masterfully for years. It sure looks like it might be a partisan political organization — as well as one devoted to the glorification of James Mai.

I haven’t watched his YouTube Channel personally, to try to decipher his rants — and I’m told that that puts me in a majority of about 99.9999997% of the world.

But look, even all that would not be enough to get the increasingly desperate Doug Chaffee to back away from him. Let’s move on to the main course.

(4) Hate Crime: Bragging About Desecrating the Sacred Cow. Literally.

The screenshots below show that James Mai bragged to LC and presumably others, in an Instagram chatroom, that he had vandalized an Indian eatery because he felt that they had overcharged him. Although, actually, “vandalism” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

What he described was — or would have been, if he made up the story — a religious-based hate crime … against Asians.

James Mai knew that owner was Hindu, and obviously was fully aware that the cow is sacred in the Hindu religion. He may think that Indians are not Asian, and that what this country really needs now is more conflict between Southeast/ East Asian and South Asians, and so … well, let’s let him continue his story:

(That’s not my screenshot; I haven’t blocked his Instagram, mostly because I’m not on Instagram.)

As hate crimes go, this was pretty darned effective. After Love Cameron documented the atrocity, word spread through the Hindu (and broader Indian) community. Indians — not just Hindus — were furious and frightened. Furious because it was, in every sense of the word, a willful act of sacrilege; frightened that they or their neighbors or loved ones might be next. Do you recall how Christians 25 or so years ago were outraged by an artist taking a photo of a crucifix submerged in urine? This is like that — except with actual blood, actual desecration, actual targeting, in an actual community.

Whether this literally happened, at least in recent years, matters. But it greatly matter even if this was merely or whether this was the puerile and pathetic bragging of a seriously disturbed man trying to bolster his cred as a renegade cowboy. This point of this story was to emphasize that he was so powerful and ruthless and bulletproof he was that he could engage in an implausible dispute with a restauranteur — and then go to a butcher shop, procure the head of a cow, return to the establishment, dump the cow’s head outside the doorway, smear the cow’s blood on the windows in what the owner would see as a monstrous act of sacrilege — and get away with it all!

In his telling, the story had a happy ending, though! The restaurant owner gave into his ruthless intimidation, just like in the “horse’s head” scene of The Godfather! Winners win! I suspect that most of the people who tell stories depict themselves as Hell on Earth are just posturing — but maybe he really is that despicable!

THIS IS THE MAN THAT DOUG CHAFFEE APPOINTED AND IS NOW ALLOWING A NEW FULL TERM ON A COUNTY COMMISSION!

As Mai’s story was directed only at LC, it carried with it an ominous, threatening air. Had it been aimed towards others as well, it might have been merely macho posing. Either way, it’s a vile and repulsive act of bigotry towards the Hindu community.

In recounting this gruesome act on Instagram, James Mai describes it nonchalantly, as though it was just a normal exercise of power. Mai knew that LC is originally from India, but also that she was a devout Christian. Was he of the mind that she would not be wounded by this Hinduphobic hate crime? As horrific as his story was — his attempted cover-up of it was no less evil.

(5) Retribution and Intimidation

Alarmed, LC took screenshots of the Instagram chat where Mai boasts of his gory hate crime and sent them to various South Asian Hindus locally in the OC.  Over the course of about 6 weeks, two different women shared it to a website called Ripoff Report.

https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/specific_search/james%20mai.

(This link consolidates both reports into one URL, but they were separately made by two distinct people, neither one of whom is LC.)

James Mai — called “King Mai” by his online sycophants — went on the offense. Using the Instagram alias “Asian Vengeance” — and adopting a version of the mask used by “Anonymous,” just to give the wrong impression — Mai vowed to “out” LC, to whom he had originally confessed the sinister hate crime. The tag “#expectus” — adopted from Anonymous’s promises of future releases of hidden information, but here repurposed for sinister ends — speak for themselves.

Again, this was not retribution for posting a warning on the Ripoff Report; LC hadn’t done so. It was retribution for her now keeping her mouth shut when he bragged of a hate crime against Hindus — one that she found plausible.

LC had already warned James Mai in writing that her personal information was protected by law, because she is (and was at all times in question) a participant in the Safe at Home Registry. This is a confidential database maintained by the Secretary of State in California to protect the identity of survivors of serious crime, including sex trafficking, sexual assault, aggravated stalking an other offenses that pose an imminent threat to the safety of vulnerable persons.

How did Mai get this information that literally no one else but her Landlord had? Presumably — and when I spoke to the Commission I called for an investigation of this — Mai abused his privileges as a OC Housing Commissioner by accessing confidential electronic records in the County’s database. Such a database of necessity includes the Safe at Home registry in which his victim is listed.

Even if one excuses Doug Chaffee, who appointed James Mai to this position of respect and authority, for not having done due diligence of Mai — despite that, as one widely known to harbor views hostile to the social safety net, or most any form of government assistance — the appointment seems like a very poor fit (unless Chaffee really did want to reduce access to affordable housing and Section 8 vouchers.) But ALLOWING HIM TO REMAIN, when he has been given notice on his official Facebook page as to what is going on (although all critical comments after June 15 have been removed from his “OC Supervisor Doug Chaffee” page) is beyond the pale.

After the above activity, LC again warned the “Asian Vengeance” account — which had a self-proclaimed nexus to James Mai — not to publicize her information. James Mai/Asian Vengeance then doubled down and stated an intent to trace her actual identity, and tagged several related entities such as @asiangangsters (!) and various other affiliates on Instagram

(The “threats to a leader of the community” portion referred to LC’s role in trying to put together an abortive recall of OCDA Todd Spitzer. Yes, this is improper.) On May 4th, an online zine that bills itself an “alternative news site” published an article doxxing the lady and falsely claimed, without evidence, that she was the one who had defamed Mai.

That site published the article across all its social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as on its own website. It is all but impossible to ascertain the identity of its owners/operators, as they hide behind anonymity. But its affiliate pages, including @antiasiantweets, @anonsoca and several others cross-posted the article on their own accounts.

Within 24 hours, hundreds of anonymous trolls latched on to it and made venomous comments, calling LC “obese,” “tranny.” and even “pedo.”  James Mai reacted positively to these heinous comments by way of the “heart” button, which is used on Instagram to “like” a remark.

This is what James Mai — Doug Chaffee’s chosen appointee — did to someone who wouldn’t be intimidated!

LC has suffered extensive and ongoing mental anguish. I helped her make several calls to the FBI, which opened an investigation, still ongoing, into both the doxxing and the underlying hate crime itself at the Indian restaurant.

For his part, Doug Chaffee has apparently ordered his social media team to delete comments on his official Facebook page that relate to James Mai and/or provide links to the ripoff report site where the graphic screenshots are published. A California Public Records Act request and complaint are planned.

(6) Sanitation

As we prepared publish this article, we learned that — only days after I attended an OC Housing Authority Commission Meeting and put James Mai on formal notice not to destroy any evidence that would implicate him (with follow-ups of a revised post by email — Mai took a first step towards mitigating the hate crime he bragged of : His non profit : AAPI United hired a South Asian ( probably Indian and very likely Hindu) woman as “South Asian outreach coordinator” for his organization.

It appears to be James Mai’s attempt to recast himself an open-minded, antiracist individual who couldn’t possibly be guilty of a hate crime. The screenshots above have not been doctored and they speak for themselves. The Hindu community considers his acts abominable regardless of whether they happened or not: the cow’s head may have been fictitious, but the fear it evokes was real.

(7) Conclusion

So what should the Board of Supervisors do tomorrow morning? Easy: do not make the appointment. Instead, investigate. Yes, this leaves an At-Large seat open — but James Mai has already missed several meetings in his two months in office.

It seems likely that Doug Chaffee will stand stubbornly firm in his appointment, and his friend Andrew Do will likely do the same. Katrina Foley and Lisa Bartlett, both running for office, would be unlikely be the third vote for such an appointment. The possible swing vote is Don Wagner, who represents Irvine. Whomever else you may want to email tonight — and ideally that would include all of the Supervisors, with a link to this story — you should probably email him. (He represents Irvine, after all.)

I’ve already emailed Bindi Brahmbhatt, James Mai’s new hire at AAPI United, for her comment on this matter.

UPDATE: I received no response. I guess some AAPIs, like her own fellow South Asians, are not to be “United.”

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.)