Another campaign finance violation…or just an amazingly good deal on rent? We shall see!

What was the hurry exactly?

Despite never once mentioning the removal of our election ethics and finance code during their respective campaigns, Supervisors Gorell and Parvin coordinated to dispatch Ventura County’s $750 contribution limit with considerable urgency.

  • They would brook no delays, despite protests from Supervisors LaVere and Lopez.
  • They would entertain no citizen review committees.
  • They wouldn’t consider putting it on the ballot for the vote of the people.
  • They barely pretended to listen to the citizens who came to speak against their proposal.

It had to be done right away. Many wondered – what was the hurry? We fully expect to see ramifications of their decision in the future, but were there also issues from the past that need to be dealt with immediately?

Before this complaint was handed in, the Ventura Star reported:

(VCStar) For now, work continues business as usual, said James Importante, a program management analyst in the County Executive Officer’s office.

He has forwarded the two complaints filed on March 28 to a law firm that acts as the compliance officer, investigating allegations and providing recommendations to the county’s five-member campaign finance ethics commission.

“The complaints are being handled like any other case, Importante said. That will continue until they are resolved or the 30 days runs out on April 27. If any investigation is ongoing at that point, the process would have to stop.

“Once that 30-day time limit is reached, the commission no longer exists, because we no longer have the authority to administer that ordinance,” he said”.”

That 30-day limit is April 27th.

A New Complaint

On April 21, a new complaint of a campaign finance violation by Supervisor Gorell was filed at the County of Ventura Elections Division. Because of the seriousness of the allegations, it is being simultaneously filed with the State’s Fair Political Practices Corporation. (FPPC)

Here is a pic of now-Supervisor Gorell at his new campaign headquarters.

This facebook post is clearly dated March 17, 2022.

Here are the schedules of nonmonetary contributions received by Gorell’s campaign.

These schedule forms clearly show that the office space rental was given a value of $250. The posting for the value of half a month’s rent in March or April’s rent is not apparent. Since he appears to have taken possession in mid-March of 2022, one would expect at least (7) full rental payments from the beginning of April to the end of Sept.

Here is his space advertised on a commercial real estate website.

Here are some comps for the area!

$250 looks like a reasonable rent…unless one looks at comps for the area submitted along with the complaint.

Monthly rent for the cheapest commercial space shown below was $21/SF/year. For a 1,000 square foot office, that would equal $21,000/year ÷12 months = a monthly rent of $1,750.

But the schedules say $250 a month, which allows Gorell’s campaign to keep their in-lieu donation at Ventura County’s $750 contribution limit for a total of (3) months of rent, counted (2) times for the primary and general election. However, no matter how much a building owner may like a candidate, they can’t just declare any value they want to for their office space. Even people who win FREE stuff on television game shows have to pay taxes on the items’ real value.

So, what would $250 get you? We’ve already done the math. $21/SF/year x 143 square feet = $3000/year ÷12 months = a monthly rent of $250. There do not appear to be any 143 s.f. office spaces in the building Supervisor Gorell used as a campaign headquarters. Also, since one photo shows at least (8) 2′ tiles in the ceiling (16′ feet), the office would have to be about 9′ deep to comply with the square footage. This doesn’t seem reasonable.

A letter to the editor of the VC Star from the author of the complaint.

(VC Star) After watching our new Supervisors Gorell and Parvin move to quickly change campaign rules and limits, in spite of receiving 500-plus letters and 80-plus comments, I decided to look at their contributions and expenditures. As suspected, they were both in violation of the regulations they decided to repeal.

I filed a complaint about Gorell’s double dipping contributions from Hagle Lumber Company. Mr. Gorell quickly refunded a $750 contribution so there would be no hearing or additional fine levied against him. Parvin also refunded money. Hagle Lumber has been in violation of SOAR regulations for a few years now for paving over 10 acres of land covered by SOAR and storing lumber on them. It has still not been resolved. Hagle came before the previous supervisors to change the land use rules (which really can only be done by a vote of the people) and the supervisors rightly said no. I am concerned that the new supervisors will be hearing from Hagle about this and will roll over and give into these donors the next time they ask.

Also, we should be watching to see what Gorell does about Shawn Moradian’s development requests after getting office space for his campaign for $250 a month expenditure and $750 in kind contribution from Moradian. Last time I checked you couldn’t rent office space on Thousand Oaks Boulevard for $250 per month. Moradian could end homelessness in Thousand Oaks if he were willing to rent to others for $250 per month.

We need to keep our eyes on these new supervisors. They obviously don’t care about rules or their constituents. They are all about the money.”

Leanna Brand, Simi Valley

Now it’s our turn…

Voting on your own “Get-out-of-trouble-free” card may have been “legal,” but it sure doesn’t smell right!

Minimal phone script for those who live in Districts 2 (Gorell) and 4 (Parvin):

(Not sure of your district? See “Contacts” below)

Hi, my name is [___] and I’m a voter in District [2 – Gorell/4- Parvin]. I understand that at the last Board of Supervisors’ meeting, Supervisor [Gorell/Parvin] dumped our county’s election finance ordinance on some pretty flimsy arguments. I want [him/her] to know that I expect [him/her] to behave honorably and deal with any and all campaign violations that have filed against them under the conditions of the ordinance they were committed under, no matter how long it takes. We will be watching this issue of public trust carefully. Thank you!