Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tom Fuentes and the events of "40 years ago"

A veritable web of public service/corruption
     “There’s always some professor writing a report. I don’t pay too much attention to them.”
—Ronald W. Caspers, 1963
     THIS MORNING, Dan Chmielewski of the The Liberal OC commented as follows:
Hi Roy — I'm curious but Mickadeit says you published old rumors about Fuentes without documenting a single fact. This seems to be counter to your regular work of going overboard to document stuff you write about. Can you address this in a post please?
     In fact, last night, in a comment to Mickadeit’s piece, I responded to the “documentation” point as follows:
     You write: “The hate is so palpable that one of the faculty activists, Roy Bauer, two weeks ago rehashed for his blog a bunch of 40-year-old innuendo about Fuentes to smear his memory – and never documented a single original fact.”
     Hate has never motivated me. I am trained as an ethicist (a specialty in philosophy). My criticisms of Mr. Fuentes (and others) are fundamentally about their lack of moral decency.
     Whether or not I have “documented a single original fact” about Mr. Fuentes’ record (I certainly have) is irrelevant. I’m perfectly happy to assemble the already available facts and let them guide us to the most reasonable view about Mr. Fuentes’ nature and his activities “40” years ago. Those facts overwhelmingly suggest that Ronald Caspers and his confederates were unethical and corrupt. And Tom Fuentes was Caspers’ right-hand man for the four years in which Mr. Caspers and Co. pursued their corrupt operation.
     Please note that Mickadeit did not write that I have "not documented my claims"; he wrote that, in my post (actually, there are numerous posts, not one) two weeks ago, I “never documented a single original fact.”
     On the other hand, he describes my post as a rehash of "40-year-old innuendo about Fuentes….” So Mickadeit seems to be saying both that (1) I provide only innuendo and (2) I present nothing original.
     Let’s stick with the events of 40 years ago—namely, Fuentes’ four years with supervisor Ronald W. Caspers (which started with Fuentes' management of Caspers' 1970 supervisorial campaign and ended with Fuentes' role as executive assistant to Caspers upon the latter's death in June of 1974). My point above is that there is no need to document anything new, since the already documented facts are sufficient to portray Caspers and Co. as corrupt. 
     That Caspers' operation was corrupt is a crucial premise in my case against Fuentes. Recently, I colorfully described that case as follows:
Upshot: (1) Caspers and Co. [Harber, et al.] were seriously dirty; (2) Fuentes was Caspers' right-hand man during those dirty years. (3) Do the math. [See here.]
     (I might have added another point about the intimate nature of Fuentes' "right-handedness" to Caspers and Fuentes' reported involvement in various disturbing or questionable events and actions.) 
     In my recent series of posts about Caspers/Fuentes, I have been concerned about the issue of “documentation”—or, as I would prefer to characterize it, of “evidence.” That led me to emphasize the deposition (from 1975) of Richard Jordan, which was associated with his successful lawsuit of the County of Orange in 1978. (In a settlement involving agreements of silence, the County agreed to pay Jordan $700,000.)
     You’ll recall that, in 1978, both the Register and the Times wrote lengthy pieces about Jordan’s allegations (which the Reg uncovered by way of a public records request). In the course of its reporting, the Times came upon an old case from the mid-60s:



—I did some research on Cypress City Councilman Denni and, unsurprisingly, I found nothing about this aborted prosecution, though I did find considerable news coverage of Denni and a bribery trial in which he was acquitted, along with another man. Obviously, that he was acquitted in one case is consistent with the suggestion that prosecutors pursued another case against him. (The fellow who became Caspers' chief political advisor, Fred Harber, was the City Manager of Cypress at the time.)
     I have unearthed various other news articles concerning the bribery trial of Derek McWhinney, the Mayor or Westminster. That case and the Denni case reveal that specific elements of the Caspers/Harber shakedown scheme that Jordan describes in his deposition (namely, the $10K lump amount; the notion of payment of $2K per month) appear in other cases in which Caspers and his crew are present. (See my Puppets and Puppeteers.)
     There's more. I present former OC GOP chair Tom Rogers' account of Caspers' defeat of Supervisor Alton Allen by unscrupulous means and the behind-the-scenes regard of Caspers among establishment Republicans in and around 1970. I discuss Caspers' close relationship with the "Dick and Doc Show"—the campaign funding scheme run by Richard O'Neill and Louis Cella and relying on the political acumen of Fred Harber, who seemed to be involved in the campaigns and operations of many in the "Dick and Doc" stable. (Cella was the big fish in a series of numerous "corruption" prosecutions by OC DA Cecil Hicks' in the mid- to late-1970s.)
     And who was right there in the middle of all this? Tom Fuentes. 
     Let me be very clear about what I’m saying and what I’m not saying. I am not saying that I have proof that Fuentes participated in shakedown schemes and various unethical shenanigans during his Caspers years (c. 1970-74). What I am saying is that, given the strong indications of the nature of Ron Caspers and his associates’ actions (including apparent shakedown schemes, various unethical actions and strategies, etc.), and given Fuentes’ intricate and intimate involvement in Caspers’ public and private affairs during this period (Fuentes was not only Caspers’ chief executive assistant at the County but also a consultant at his Westminster S&L), it is implausible to suggest that Fuentes was unaware of what was going on. Indeed, given the full fabric of evidence, it is likely that he participated in it.

Fuentes' old political machine; now rusted
     We can consider also Fuentes’ pattern of controversial (i.e., ruthless, bullying, and arguably illegal) actions, especially as OC GOP chairman, long after his Caspers years. These include, of course, his involvement in the Bein & Frost/Santa Margarita Water District “gift” scandal of the early 90s and the “poll guards” scandal of the late 80s.
     Fuentes, I submit, learned quite a lot in his early years with the likes of Ron Caspers and Fred Harber. He was brought into their culture of corruption, internalized its ethos, and then regularly exhibited its unsavory impulses and preoccupations as pol/“businessman.” (Starting in 1975, Fuentes made his living helping private firms to secure lucrative contracts with government agencies, and the appearance of impropriety clung always to those dealings, even in recent years.)
     For those who wish to review the fabric of evidence that places Tom Fuentes smack dab in the center of a web of illegality and dirty dealings, I suggest reading the following:

The Fuentes file: Puppets and Puppeteers - Jun 21, 2012
~ It's pretty clear that Dick and Doc's political mastermind, Fred Harber, was the puppeteer to OC Supervisor Bob Battin's puppet. And yet Harber was Battin's "assistant." File this under: things are not always what they seem. We examine Tom Fuentes, Ron Caspers "assistant," and the extraordinary roles he seemed to play during and after Caspers' mysterious disappearance in 1974.

Harber and Caspers attempt to bribe a developer, but then they die instead - June 18, 2012
~ A RIPPING YARN: Based on two 1978 articles (Reg, Times): Richard Jordan's account of how Supe Caspers and consultant Harber tried to shake 'im down. (Tom figures into this story.) Jordan brought in the DA's office, but then Caspers, Harber, and eight others mysteriously disappeared off the coast of Baja: see "Shooting Star" below. Jordan sued; the County settled: $700,000.

Orange County's dark underbelly
The Fuentes file: Fred Harber & the ubiquity of violent death - June 17, 2012
~ It's really quite odd. There are the ten deaths of the Shooting Star sinking. There's the Arlene Hoffman killing (arrow through chest), never solved (she was Harber's secretary). Air plane crashes galore. I know that most of this is just coincidence, but still: weird.

What does Fuentes’ tutelage under, esteem of, and four years with, Ronald "shakedown" Caspers tell us about him? - June 14, 2012
~ An attempt to provide a fairly big picture. Upshot: (1) Caspers and Co. [Harber, et al.] were seriously dirty; (2) Fuentes was Caspers' right-hand man during those dirty years. (3) Do the math.

Tom Fuentes at age 34: "consultant" - Oct 9, 2010
~ Just before he became the OC GOP chairman. About to get married to the "love of his life." Running around, taking care of his "properties"—just like Fred Harber used to do! A 1983 article, catching Tom at his most vibrant and hopeful. Someone needs to write a novel.

Tom Fuentes: ubiquitous paid consultant - Oct. 4, 2010
~ Tom appears to have made his living helping firms "connect" with taxpayer money, by hook or by crook. But wasn't Tom always carping about public employee unions sucking on the public teat? I'm trying to understand how Tom didn't help others, and thus himself, do precisely that. Tom was complex.
    

 Tom Fuentes, Caspers' "bagman"? - Sep 17, 2009
~ Young Nathan R wanted to run against the lazy Republican incumbent, but Tom declared, "thou shalt leave GOP incumbents be!" Nathan got pissed, right on TV. Called Tom "Caspers' bagman." The truth is revealed, but Nathan's political career is over.


See also:

Always loved this song.

4 comments:

  1. I don't think this is the "innuendo" Mickadeit was talking about, which is perfectly fine as he just pushed the story of the green carnation further...oh, and did you catch Matt Cunningham referring to his band as "Friends of Fuentes"? Sounds just like "Friends of Dorothy" haha. Freudian slip?

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  2. Wow, just wow.... Maybe this fella who claims you have no new facts would like to share some new facts if he thinks they're so easy to get. Strange thing is, most the people who know what really happened to the Shooting Star were ON IT & unless he's found a way to talk to the innocent people on that boat, or the not so innocent people on that boat that are DEAD, then maybe he should shut his mouth. Nobody has come forward about who killed Arlene Hoffman either, so unless he has found a way to ask her.....again, I say shut it.
    Sorry Roy, but it really bothers me. In the time you've been blogging about the Shooting Star, I've learned SO MUCH & for him to attack you just because you speak the truth & he can't handle it, angers me.

    So Mr Mickadeit, I challenge you to come up with some FACT based ORIGINAL documentation of what happened to each & every one of these deceased people. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!! If you'd like a list of names, please refer to each of Roy's blogs for their names. Please be prepared to provide proof for each claim of "new documentation" you make.

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  3. Well, Gustavo, you know what I'm going to say. The real scandal of Tom Fuentes isn't his alleged sexual escapades (though I do grant that the hypocrisy factor here is amazingly high)--it is his unscrupulousness and embrace of a kind of corruption that helped create and sustain the Good Old Boys network operating in the OC. If Mickadeit was alluding merely to innuendo about Tom's, ahem, daring love, then the irony is rather nice. I've made quite a point of avoiding the subject, especially during the period since his death. And so who brings it up? Fuentes' bulldog, FM, who evidently doesn't bother to read the writings he attacks.

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  4. P.S.: I consider the "pedo priest" coverup to be an aspect of the Good Old Boy issue. Perhaps it should be considered separately. Dunno.

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