Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tommy Tales: lobbying plus piety. Genius!

     In this morning’s OC Reg (Water executives wined and dined, report says), Teri Sforza reports the excessive spending—on dinners, hotels, and wine—by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. According to a San Diego Union Tribute report, says Teri, one MWD lunch cost $1,861.50, including six bottles of wine costing $55 each!
     Who do these people think they are, John Williams?!
     You’ve gotta watch those water board people. And boards generally, I guess.
     And you’ve gotta watch those who lobby boards, too--although, evidently, the OC Board of Supes doesn't really think so. (They've notoriously resisted efforts to pursue lobbyist registration in the County.)
     I’m reminded of the time that Tom Fuentes and a pal wined and dined a local water district board for the sake of securing juicy contracts for their employer (at the time), Robert Bein, William Frost & Associates.
     Some people started using the dreaded “G” word. There was an FBI investigation. Soon, Tom left BFA.
     Check out this Times article from 1993:

     …[Robert Bein, William Frost & Associates or RBF] employs the services of two well-known political figures—county Republican Party chairman Thomas Fuentes and Costa Mesa City Councilman Peter F. Buffa, who also sits on the agency overseeing the San Joaquin Hills toll road.
     RBF has given officeholders tens of thousands of dollars' worth of gifts and campaign donations. And it has hosted many politicians at special company events, such as an annual Christmas party aboard a yacht in Newport Harbor and an Easter prayer breakfast at Le Meridien Hotel in Newport Beach.
     The company appears to have developed a particularly close relationship with top officials at the Santa Margarita Water District.
     RBF has provided district General Manager Walter W. (Bill) Knitz and his assistant, Michael P. Lord, with nearly $14,000 worth of meals, trips and other gifts in recent years—at the same time the firm was receiving about $13 million in engineering work from the water district.
     The FBI and the Orange County district attorney are now seeking to determine whether Lord and his boss violated federal or state laws governing the gifts that public officials can receive from people who have business before them. 
    Friday, both water district officials were suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigations.
--That Easter prayer breakfast bit, that's a nice touch. Lobbying plus piety. Genius!

See also:

Guiding With an Iron Hand (LA Times, 7/11/96)

     Until last year, Fuentes served for nearly 20 years as vice president of Robert Bein William Frost and Associates, a large Orange County engineering firm.
     Fuentes performed mostly personnel work for the firm and sometimes lobbied public agencies for contracts. Fuentes had a trademark: a dozen long-stemmed roses for select local politicians.
     "Do elected officials take my phone calls because I am party chairman?" Fuentes asked. "Yes. But the overwhelming majority of my work was internal."
     Earlier last year [i.e., early 1995], Fuentes left the firm. He said he did so because he had an opportunity to sell his large stake in the company at a good price.
     Company President Bob Kallenbaugh would not comment on the reasons for Fuentes' departure, but he said the firm and Fuentes are on good terms.
     Early last year, while still with the company, Fuentes lobbied members of the Anaheim City Council for the appointment of Tom Tait. Tait was appointed to the City Council in January 1995. Shortly afterward, in March 1995, Fuentes became a vice president at Tait and Associates, an Orange engineering firm where Tait is president.
     Both Fuentes and Tait insist there was no link between Tait's appointment to the council and Tait's hiring of Fuentes a month later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, doesn't this mean that Fuentes works for companies to help them suck on the "public teat"?

Old—and insane (—and when <I>eugenics</I> was in the air)

Young Frieda Flueckinger, c. 1893      Here's another post on the historical blog I'm doing for a friend. You might find it i...