If you’re interested in making a non-tax deductible contribution to a man who misused thousands of taxpayer dollars, in addition to hiding campaign disclosure forms for years, George Shirakawa would like to speak with you.
Just before the Christmas break last month, the county supervisor created a new committee called the George Shirakawa Legal Defense Fund. There’s no limit on how much a person can contribute to the fund, which is solely designed to help Shirakawa pay legal bills. Those bills could come to a hefty total depending on what the Fair Political Practices Commission and District Attorney’s Office find in their separate investigations into Shirakawa.
As far as we know, no one has donated to this needy cause yet.
Worth noting in the committee forms is who helped Shirakawa prepare the documents—not Linda Delgado, Shirakawa’s previous treasurer and the mother of one of his children. Stacy Owens, who works for the firm Henry C. Levy and Company, is listed as the financial caretaker. The firm’s website says the company specializes in “tax return preparation, litigation support, political campaign bookkeeping and reporting and compliance and political treasurer support, business valuations, and mediation and arbitration services.”
What the firm’s website does not include is a list of its other clients. The Henry C. Levy Company and Ms. Owens also handle treasurer duties for a state political action committee of note: Californians for Quality Paramedic Services, Sponsored by Rural/Metro Corporation.
The ambulance company that received Shirakawa and two other supervisors’ blessings for a multi-million dollar county contract in 2010—after Shirakawa took a jaunt to San Diego in late 2009, on the county dime, to “tour” Rural Metro’s facilities—has the same treasurers, Ms. Owens and Mr. Levy, listed on its forms. And it’s not a coincidence.
According to filings on the California Secretary of State website, Rural Metro’s PAC took an interest in supporting not only Shirakawa in his re-election bid last year but also getting some of his closest friends and political allies elected to the Democratic Central Committee. (The PAC also spent more than $60,000 supporting Jimmy Nguyen in his failed bid for Rose Herrera’s City Council seat.)
Among the men who were included on a slate mailer with Shirakawa and fellow Supervisor Dave Cortese, who also ran unopposed to re-election, were Jesus Gomez, Javier Gonzalez, Andres Quintero and Omar Torres. (On a side note, Torres is planning to run for Sam Liccardo’s District 3 seat in 2014.)
Rural Metro’s PAC, which is supported exclusively by the company based out of Scottsdale, Ariz., spent $769.36 apiece in supporting Shirakawa and Cortese, while the PAC’s expenditures were $1,006.51 for each of the DCC candidates.
Bringing it all home, in its last meeting of 2012, the DCC had an item on its meeting minutes agenda titled, “Discussion on Shirakawa issue.” Below is what the DCC officials said, according to the minutes:
Bill Ferguson: Would like to hear what members have to say about this issue.
Swanee Edwards: Ashamed of the actions of the Supervisor.
Gerry: As a CPA, it is unfortunate that the County has maintained poor oversight.
Brian O’Neill: Disappointed in the Mercury News about how they personally attack people affiliated with Labor. Let’s wait for the process to be done.
Forrest Williams: Merc is biased against Labor and minorities.
Jacquie Hefner: The issue is how he used taxpayer expenses for Democratic Party events. We need accountability.
Tony Alexander: We’ve all crossed the line one way or another. The people in his district should hold him accountable.
Kessler: We should not be taking this as an issue; Chuck Reed had to pay back $40,000 to the city in 2006.
Omar Torres: Never trusted the Mercury News. Shirakawa, Diaz and Gonzalez should not be lumped to reflect minority community.
Steve Chessin: Suggest letter writing campaign to Merc regarding Reed double standard.
David Cohen: What standards should we hold our elected officials? We as a party should hold them accountable.
Emilie Gatfield: This incident highlights a major problem in county government.
Ross: Nothing illegal about what Reed did.
Drina Collins: How many of you lived in District 7? I was there since George’s father was Councilmember. They were both excellent councilmembers.
Herb: We should hold other in highest ethical standards. But the media can take things way out of proportion.
Swanee Edwards: It’s not just the Mercury News; FPPC and DA looking into it also.
Jordan Eldridge: We look stupid as a Party if we support someone before they go to jail.