|40 years ago|
That brought me to an article, by Roy Rivenburg, written a year or so before Fuentes’ rise to the chairmanship of the OC GOP in 1984:
"Tom Fuentes is a Man of Plenty," Orange Coast Magazine, September, 1983 (p. 138)
You’ll recall that Fuentes’ early (teen-through-college) years were spent battling for Republicans in local (OC) races. According to Rivenburg,
…During his final semester at Chapman College, [Fuentes] managed Ron Caspers’ upset victory [June 1970—Fuentes would have been about 21 years old] over an incumbent county supervisor [Republican Alton Allen]. The grateful Caspers awarded Fuentes with a retroactive college scholarship and a position as consultant to the savings and loan firm he owned. The new supervisor also named Fuentes as his senior aid.…That all came to an end, I guess, nine days after Caspers' reelection in 1974, when he and nine others disappeared off the coast of Baja (an apparent yachting accident) and were never seen again.
But enough about that. I’ve heard that Caspers’ 1970 campaign was fierce, and so I did some digging. I found a 1988 Times article about OC recall efforts, including an attempted recall of Caspers’ Board of Supes predecessor:
3 Recall Attempts in Past 40 Years Failed (LA Times, April 28, 1988)
…The most serious attempt to recall a county supervisor came in late 1969 and early 1970, when board member Alton E. Allen was targeted by a group that used the effort to bloody Allen politically before defeating him in a subsequent supervisorial race.It sounds like Caspers may have been involved in this "fake newspaper” gambit. Does that suggest that Fuentes, to whom Caspers would soon be so grateful, was also involved?
The recall group circulated 8,000 copies of a fake newspaper that suddenly appeared on people's doorsteps. The newspaper, the Homeowners Beacon, charged that Allen had been unresponsive to 5th District residents' concerns about airport noise, elimination of a road to the Salt Creek public beach and placement of large landowners' holdings in agricultural preserves.
The effort was spearheaded by Anthony Tarantino of San Clemente and Paul B. Carpenter, a political activist who later served in the state Senate and who is now a member of the State Board of Equalization. Both men acknowledged at the time their role in mailing the Beacon tabloid.
The recall drive fell short of the necessary signatures. But before then, Allen had charged that the drive was part of a strategy by a savings and loan president, Ronald W. Caspers to defeat him in the June, 1970, election for 5th District supervisor. Later, both sides conceded that the strategy had worked….
Carpenter, a Cypress Democrat, soon became one of the most notorious characters in OC corruption history. Why, at this point, he would be involved in an effort to unseat Allen is unclear to me, especially if the beneficiary of that effort was a Republican—namely, Caspers.
It does appear that Caspers was a real bastard. And Tom was his boy. And 21-year-old Tom soon became a “consultant” at Caspers’ S&L.
As I recall, Fuentes majored in Political Science. What would he be qualified to do at an S&L?
|In 1970, OC was even more colorless than now|
The following story, related by Gustavo Arellano, provides some sense of what kind of guy Ronald Caspers was:
Caspers, annoyed that a Mexican-American group of county employees were demanding affirmative action (he had accused one of the leaders of not being an American citizen), called them "bandidos" during a board meeting, then asked county counsel to explore moving the county seat from SanTana to whiter environs because "we are in an area which does not have a normal ethnic balance."Gosh, just think. Only a couple of years earlier, the Saddleback Community College District board of trustees had chosen the Frito Bandito as the college mascot!
…Caspers ended up apologizing for his gaffe during a board meeting, and the other supervisors reprimanded him publicly. Caspers claimed he didn't know bandido was an offensive term to Mexicans, a bullshit excuse considering Chicanos had just successfully axed the Frito Bandito the year before.
–Well, not really. But pretty close:
|The Saddleback College "Gaucho"|