Melissa Fox’s Statement on Melahat Scandal! (Updated with Farrah response)

Hot off the… Transom? THIS:

Melissa Fox’s Statement on the guilty plea of Melahat Rafiei
and Rafiei’s admission of trying to bribe officials in Irvine.

I first met Melahat Ratfiei in 2009 when she was Executive Director of the DPOC. I first had any relationship with her in 2010 when she was Beth Krom’s campaign manager for Krom’s run for Congress and I was running for Assembly, and then again when she was Shiva Farivar’s campaign manager in Farivar’s run for Irvine City Council. In 2018, Rafiei was employed by Patrick Strader and the developer FivePoint as a political consultant for the purpose of gaining Democratic approval for the “Strawberry Fields” option for an OC Veterans Cemetery, which I supported as a member of the Irvine City Council.

While Rafiei and I have been superficially friendly over the years, I believed she was often working surreptitiously against my political goals and beliefs, especially following her involvement in the political career of Farrah Khan. At no time during my career have I or any of my campaigns employed Rafiei or any of her companies, nor has she employed me for my legal services.

In May 2018 when I was on the Irvine City Council, Rafiei asked me to meet with her and a friend of hers who had a cannabis business headquartered in Irvine. While on council I often met with Irvine business owners and this meeting had no specific agenda and did not stand out as different from any other meeting of that type.

Several weeks before and independent of that meeting, Rafiei had asked me to perform legal work for her consulting firm. I informed her that under a city ordinance I was not legally permitted to represent any client before a governmental body anywhere in Orange County. Rafiei agreed that I would do no work impacting Irvine, and I quoted her my regular hourly fee and my regular retainer, and thereafter sent her a proposed retainer agreement. I never heard back from her regarding this proposed retainer agreement (which I kept on file and later provided to the FBI.)

Subsequently I learned from the FBI that she had shown this agreement with her client as indicia of an intended bribe to get me to introduce a cannabis ordinance in Irvine. I also learned from the FBI that she had told other clients that she needed money to bribe officials and then simply pocketed the money herself. Of course, I was shocked and very angry that she had used this proposed agreement for my legal services to involve me in any corrupt or illegal activity. From that point on I have been working with the FBI on this matter.

On Thursday January 19, 2023, I was happy to read the FBI’s announcement that Rafiei had agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge for attempting to defraud one of her political constituency firm’s clients and admitted in court documents that she tried to bribe two Irvine council members on cannabis-related matters. Later that evening I received a telephone call from the lead FBI agent in the case, thanking me for helping bring Rafiei to justice.

I supported Councilwoman Treseder’s call last night for a full and complete investigation into Melahat Rafiei’s activities and influence in Irvine. I would still be happy to help in any way I can, just as I did with the FBI investigation.

Melissa Fox
January 23, 2023.

UPDATE: Farrah Bites Back!

Last night – Tuesday night Jan. 24 – new Irvine Councilwoman Dr. Kathleen Treseder called for an investigation into Melahat’s activities and influence in Irvine, as Melissa mentioned above. Thanks to the scribing efforts of Jeremy Ficarola, we have the ambivalent and characteristically thin-skinned statement of Mayor Farrah Khan, Melahat’s most loyal politician:

Given the state of politics today, I shouldn’t be surprised by some of the comments that have been made. I am not Melahat Rafiei. There is no nexus between the allegations against her and for which she accepted responsibility in a plea deal with the FBI, and me or my office as major. Did she serve as my campaign manager? Yes she did. Just like she did for many many other. Including mayors that are now in Santa Ana and Anaheim.

I also know her as a complete human being. And so when we were made aware of what was going on with her and the FBI, I put out a statement and said you know what I’ll wait and see what the results of the investigation are. And as we progressed, I too let her go as my consultant. She was not my only consultant. I had multiple consultants as well. And so I fell back not only on my other consultants but also some former mayors who stepped in and assisted. It’s easy to play fast and loose with people’s lives and reputations.

But I want to be very careful with how we move forward. I too am interested to know who are those other two Councilmembers from 2018. Because as former Mayor Christina Shea stated, one of those three actually stated that they were interested in helping with the investigation which is totally unacceptable. And I too am interested in seeing what kind of work Melahat has been doing since then, she hasn’t been sitting in any of my meetings. She has not been my consultant. And if she has had communications with staff, it has been outside my work here. And I want to be very clear about that.  

But I also want to be very clear about the whole idea of investigation. As some of you mentioned. We’ve had something like this before. And it was targeted at Councilmember Agran. We wasted a lot of money. We wasted a lot of time. They tried to diminish his reputation. And here he is again. The top vote getter in the last election. So facts are important. It’s important for us to seek justice and make sure there is no corruption. But more importantly, putting out false information and accusing people falsely is even more dangerous.

Some comments on the BOLD passages in paragraph 3: HOW EXACTLY IS IT “TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE” FOR MELISSA FOX TO HELP WITH THE INVESTIGATION INTO MELAHAT AND IRVINE? And from what throne can Queen Farrah proclaim such a thing?

Also we know that Farrah’s claim of no longer communicating with Mela The Hat is untrue, as we now have at least one e-mail from Farrah (using her official City e-mail) asking Melahat a question about a campaign survey (and Hello Julio!)


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"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.