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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Calitics: Did Chris Essel's campaign circumvent campaign finance laws?

So by now most of you have read the Calitics piece accusing Chris Essel of making shady campaign finance moves. The synopsis is this: Essel accepted matching funds, binding her to a maximum primary election spend of $330,000, but when she approached that limit, a conveniently-timed independent expenditure was made allowing her under the LA Campaign Finance Ordinance to raise and spend even more. Paul Krekorian’s campaign consultant Eric Hacopian says Essel manipulated the system “to rip off taxpayers” and has “no respect for the law.” Them is fightin’ words, so here’s your thread; take off the gloves and have at each other.

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

The smoking gun

"But now comes a piece of evidence that--at least in my mind--proves the case. Per the independent expenditure reports, the $32,500 cable buy that busted the cap was made on 9/16. Disclosure was made about the buy on 9/17. So that means that the campaign would have been informed only on 9/17 that the cap had been busted and they would be allowed to spend more money. And now let's look at the Essel campaign's spending report for that time period.

Quite coincidentally, a payment was made on 9/17 to Burnside and Associates, Chris Essel's paid field ops consulting firm, followed the next day by $50,000 to Shallman (Essel's mail consultant) and another $8,000 to Burnside. Now, while the $50,000 the very next day to Shallman may stand out, it's actually the most within the realm of plausible deniability because once the cap had been busted, the Essel campaign may well have put out money in a hurry to fund a last-minute mail piece. It's the payments to Burnside, by contrast, that are problematic.

Burnside is a field consultant. Unlike her chief opponents in the primary, Essel had to rely on paid field for canvassing operations. Keep in mind how much money the Essel campaign would have been legally allowed to spend from 9/16 to 9/22 without the cap being busted: a shade under $8,500. Meanwhile, based on the payments made on 9/17 and 9/18 referenced above, the Essel campaign apparently owed Burnside $21,250. So again, you're left with two options here: either the Essel campaign knew not only that the cap was going to be busted, but knew exactly when it was going to be busted, OR the Essel campaign had--whoops!--spent so much money that it would have been unable to pay the bills for the paid field operation it was depending on in the last week of the campaign."

November 05, 2009 12:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hackopian is full of crap once again. Show us where Essel broke the law. She didn't you LIAR!!

November 05, 2009 12:58 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Just calling a spade a spade.

November 05, 2009 1:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

If this is wrong then Trutanich did the same thing, again under Shallman - took a half million bucks in matching funds (far more than Essel's whole campaign raised in total) and did the same other stuff but at much bigger numbers.

November 05, 2009 1:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Calitics outlined why Shallman is shady, this isn't just a hacopian allegation. Shallman did it before too but never got caught?

November 05, 2009 1:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Notice that this race has nothing to do with the issues? It is always about unrelated distractions and thats because neither candidate knows the distrcit or the issues

November 05, 2009 1:25 PM  

Blogger Phil Jennerjahn said:

Here we go again...

All Krekorian. All the time.

I'll be glad when this election is over.

Some of you suffer from E.D.S.

November 05, 2009 1:28 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This makes Wendy look worse than Essel - and rightfully so. It proves Wendy doesn't take her new job seriously. As City Controller she should have stayed out of the race.

November 05, 2009 1:29 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

It`s ironic that the money went to pay for an Ad featuring Greuel touting ethics and honest government. What a bunch of hypocrites!

November 05, 2009 1:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Did Wendy take matching funds, too? Her whole campaign cost less than the half million Trutanich took in matching funds, and she didn't need them against underfunded Patsouris, but if she did then every Shallman client's finances are now open for scrutiny. Would be interesting if the city controller and attorney both engaged in illegal fundraising thanks to too-clever-for-his-own-good Shallman.

November 05, 2009 1:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Exactly what pacheco did and got away with

November 05, 2009 1:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Breaking news: this is a common practice so stop crying. it's not illegal.

and unfortunately for Krekorian and Essel there is still time left to discuss CD-2

November 05, 2009 2:19 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Wendy never took the Controller`s job seriously. She is using it as a stepping stone to run for Mayor( dreams are free..) She will do anything and everything, pushing the envelop as close to the unethical, illegal and deceiving as possible.

November 05, 2009 2:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

2:19PM. You must have gotten your training in City Hall, from the Masters, if you are not a Master yourself. Everything goes in order to deceive the public, as long you stay one step ahead of the D. A.; unless you slip and get caught i.e. Alatorre

November 05, 2009 2:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Wendy is ambitious and without ideology but not unethical. Someone needs to do an intervention and get her away fr Shallman before she gets in trouble or goes broke.

November 05, 2009 2:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

So what if Chris indeed violated the campaign rules? Let's see. She would be dragged before the L.A. City Ethics Commission. Check my statement but if my memory serves me right, the Mayor appoints three members and the City Controller and City Attorney each appoints one. So with AV and WG appointing the majority of the commissioners, why does anyone think the City Ethics Commission would do anything against Essel.
The fact is that Essel has more money than God but does not know how to use it correctly. Paul has limited funds but knows how to squeeze water out of a rock. The result of this contest of wealth vs. attributes will be interesting.

November 05, 2009 3:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The word from Essel camp is that the Painters IE was an Hacopian trick.

The scheme was to have an ineffective IE (running adds outs of cd2) to bust the cap. Given that Chris is a better fundraiser, she can be sucked into spending more than the cap and get into legal trouble once the story breaks.

If any one had any doubts, this proves that Hacopian is the singular greatest focus of evil in Los Angeles politics.

November 05, 2009 4:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hacopian must be stopped.

November 05, 2009 4:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Sounds like more Hacopian dirty tricks to me.

November 05, 2009 4:22 PM  

Blogger Joseph Mailander said:

Now bickering over what's appropriate to spend! Could there be any more proof required that neither Essel nor Krekorian are interested in issues facing this District at all?

November 05, 2009 4:29 PM  

Anonymous Dante Atkins said:

4:20, that's the most idiotic thing I've ever heard. If you want to call the Painter's IE a dirty trick done by Hacopian to goad Essel into spending over the limit, then you'd also have to believe that Essel's campaign left itself able to spend less than $8,500 during the entire last week of the campaign when it owed its filed consultant over $21,000 and who knows what other bills.

There's no way on earth that passes the smell test.

November 05, 2009 4:47 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Mailander is right. These two will filibuster all the finish line. Armenian Genocide, accuse one another of finance violations, dirty campaign tricks, whatever it takes to not discuss CD-2. Neither of them owns a home here for Chistsakes!!! Paul lives IN BURBANK!!!

November 05, 2009 4:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

4:20 PM is smoking some of that 420.

November 05, 2009 5:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Where in the hell is Essel? She let's Hackopian slime her over and over & says nothing!

November 05, 2009 5:08 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hacopian is the owner of this blog and censors Essel's posts.


Eric Hacopian, Owner

P.S. Higby, fire yourself again.

November 05, 2009 5:19 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I agree that Wendy's judgment is the real story here. Trutanich is doing her job, not focusing on his, while she's busy filming spots for Essel. As Controller she should stay neutral on City Council, City Attorney and Mayoral candidates.

November 05, 2009 5:24 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

These are serious charges, if their is a serious investigation a few of these consultant sleaze balls will be in the can.

November 05, 2009 5:25 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

"singular greatest focus of evil in Los Angeles politics."

boy that is a heavy charge, big laugh.

November 05, 2009 5:27 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This story makes sense to me, Shallman cant beat Hacopian with even money.

If he outspends Hacopian three to one it will be competitive. Any thing less than that, you can forget about it.

November 05, 2009 5:29 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Krekorian is running circles around the Essel campaign.

They break stories real or imaginary in a ruthless manner.

November 05, 2009 5:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Nuch must be sitting back and grinning on how he will #@*&% Wendy with this one.

November 05, 2009 5:33 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Dante Atkins is a better reporter than any one in LA Times. None of the Times reporters would have uncovered this story.

November 05, 2009 5:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

So Phil what is your response to this story.

Your a big conservative aren't you? A union is scheming to rip off the taxpayers and you don't have a problem with that?

What would you tea bagging friends have to say.

Your full of crap.

November 05, 2009 5:38 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The Essel campaign steps on shit once every 3 or 4 days.

Is there any one competent working for her?

She is going to have her behind handed to her on December 8th.

November 05, 2009 5:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Apparently AV is arranging some big IE's to come in and save the day for Essel.

IBEW is going to be playing big in this race.

November 05, 2009 5:41 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Wendy IS unethical and she has Shallman painted all over her. Too late to brush him off. This paint does not come off. As far as her Mayoral ambition. Eric will wipe her out. She cannot much his smarts,true,not phony, charm and accomplishments. She should stay as Controller and then go back to lobbying for Dreamworks.

November 05, 2009 5:41 PM  

Anonymous breal said:


Dante Atkins comes acrossed as a brainwashed d-bag who thinks he has uncovered the onion core, but really hasn't even peeled off the outer layer.

First, let's dispose of his allegations: Why is it not illegal? Because there was no coordination of campaign messages. That is the technical test. Are IEs abused? Yes.

Moving on, he can't credibly express outrage at Essel when he doesn't balance the story with an examination of Paul's report.

Let's see, Krekorian pays Hacopian from his campaign account. Some of those funds come from us, the taxpayers. Then, Hacopian (and his wife, brother, cousin, etc.) turn around and donate to the Krekorian campaign.

They each donate $250, so that the amount can get matched. By, hmmm, yep, you guessed it. Us, the taxpayers.

This is a common amateur scheme in LA City races. It indicates one of two things. That they are trying to leverage taxpayer matching funds or that someone walked into campaign headquarters with a big handful of cash.

Why would a consultant who charges $5000 a month not just knock his bill down to $4750? Why affirmatively give to the campaign?

So you and I, the taxpayer, can foot the bill, that's why.

So Atkins loses all credibility by not mentioning this. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe there will be a followup story on what's wrong with both CD2 candidates. But that would take honesty and maturity.

November 05, 2009 5:58 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Krekorian skirts the line on absentee votes.

He manufactures ethnic divisivenes in every race he enters.

He abuses the matching fund program by having his vendors kickback matchable checks to his campaign.

And Atkins chose to write about a labor IE for Essel?

November 05, 2009 6:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Shallman is being called out to be the sleaze ball he is.

My compliments to the Krekorian team.

November 05, 2009 6:02 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

5:58 6:00

Dante provided a laundry list of evidence.

You make accusations without backing it up with any facts.

Dante Atkins 1 Essel staffers 0

November 05, 2009 6:05 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The race was over when the consultants where picked.

Shallman is the worst person you can hire to try to beat Hacopian in a low voter turn out Special Election.

Shallman has no idea how to run a field campaign. Hacopian is a master of field and running low budget campaigns.

November 05, 2009 6:10 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

"He abuses the matching fund program by having his vendors kickback matchable checks to his campaign."

evidence please?

November 05, 2009 6:11 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

"Vendor kickbacks"

No one working for a Shallman campaign is ever even hired if they don't give him kick backs.

That charge against Hacopian is laughable. Plenty of other things would stick, but that one is a douzy.

November 05, 2009 6:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Wendy= Sleaze ball

don't tell me she did not know about this.

November 05, 2009 6:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hacopian must be stopped.

November 05, 2009 6:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hacopian must be stopped.

November 05, 2009 6:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


Can you be more specific. He should be stopped from doing what exactly?

Please pontificate further.

November 05, 2009 6:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Has any one seen a worst run campaign than Essel's?

(no mentions of Pacheco please)

November 05, 2009 6:22 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Pretty naked scheme to rip off the taxpayers. What is Nuch going to do on this? Investigate his former consultant or take a walk?

November 05, 2009 6:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Here's what I'm guessing happened:

1. Krekorian gets angry he's not raising as much money as Essel.

2. Hacopian reads a campaign manual and a chapter on using your weaknesses as strengths.

3. He tips off Dante Atkins.

4. Atkins calls Deane Leavenworth, another party hack.

5. Atkins writes on this non-story.

Nevermind the Felipe Fuentes IEs that broke every law under the sun, in reality or in spirit.

Nevermind the rampant suspicions surrounding Hacopian and absentee ballots.

Nevermind the shadiness on Krekorian's campaign reports. (Check them out for yourself at ethics.lacity.org.)

6. This story comes out.

You have to think hard about step 1 and 2 and ignore everything above step 6 to buy this one!

November 05, 2009 6:25 PM  

Anonymous welcometotujunga said:

MAJOR KUDOS to Mailander for again making a smart point.

Krekorian is grasping at straws.

He doesn't live in the district.

He's not a likeable guy, nor is anyone in his campaign.

He only did as well as he did in the primary because Essel ran a crappy campaign and because Shallman was asleep at the switch.

So Krekorian does his usual trick of seizing or creating some minor misstep by his opponent and feigning ridiculously public outrage to divert attention from him and to motivate his base.

He's done this in every campaign he's ever been a part of.

November 05, 2009 6:30 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

6:14 pm,

Hacopian must be posting.

He loves the notoriety. He is making the campaign all about him.

Ask Robert Urteaga.

November 05, 2009 6:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

You asked, and you kept the story alive, so someone should spell it out for you:

Krekorian hires vendors.

One is Hacopian.

He pays Hacopian $X a month.

Hacopian, rather than discounting his rates to $X - discount

makes a "contribution" to the Krekorian campaign.

So that it is matched by the taxpayer.

That is a kickback that KREKORIAN is receiving from a vendor.

It's an abuse of the matching funds system.

It usually shows desperation for funds.

Or that someone is trying to launder cash.

November 05, 2009 6:35 PM  

Anonymous Dante Atkins said:

I'm finding it amusing that so many commenters here are trying to change this into a story about me or Hacopian when the meat of the story is the overwhelming amount of evidence that points to coordination between the IE and the official Essel campaign.

I don't care how you attack me. But the fact that some people here seem to need to attack me and the opposing consultant seems to indicate that there's a lot of pants on fire among certain people out there.

November 05, 2009 6:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

5:38 is a dope. Phil doesn't have to defend anything as Essel did not defraud the taxpayers. Hacopian DID, as outlined in detail by 5:58. I think YOU 5:38 are the one with some 'splaining to do.

November 05, 2009 7:15 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

My hats off to Eric Hacopian.

He has become an expert in rolling down multiple shit trains to slime his opponents.

He has learned well from his brother in law, Park Skelton.

November 05, 2009 7:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The word from Essel's camp is that Higby has been censoring anti-Hacopian posts.

November 05, 2009 7:38 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Phil sure has tucked his tail since the endorsements of Paul by Tamar & Mary!

November 05, 2009 7:43 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Not to pile on, but Phil hinted a long time ago a major Krekorian bombshell would doom his campaign. When is it coming? Essel is getting her butt kicked from Ventura to Foothill

November 05, 2009 7:53 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


If Hacopian and Skelton are brother in laws, that that is an explosive story.

It will explain so much.

November 05, 2009 7:55 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


It is well known that Higby is bought and paid for by Armenian money.

November 05, 2009 7:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Mr Atkins,

I have refrained from weighing in so far, but I feel someone needs to explain it to you.

It's not so much this story I think, where you spent a whole lot of ink trying to connect the dots on a practice that is 1 not illegal and 2 done by everyone. (Do you have a doubt PK would do the same if he had the money?)

I think it is also your other recent story on this race, where you, quite frankly, got played.

Hacopian has a history of making every race he's in into an ethnic fight. It's nasty. It's guttural. And you bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

President Obama meets with Turks. President Obama took money from Turkish-Americans. The official policy of the whole nation is to deny the Armenian holocaust, which is terrible. But you can't assume because an official meets with a Turk that that official is racist. That's, uhm, kind of racist, and just plain stupid.

So Krekorian's righteous rage here was a little, uhm, creative, and probable designed with one thing in mind: getting Armenians to vote, so they vote for, uhm, Paul Krekorian.

Hacopian's M.O. is to bring racial or ethnic fights to the fore, and tools like you get utilized to pass along that crap, which just makes our already delicate, diverse cornucopia swirl get more divided.

So you couple your last story, with this current hatchet job, which was just a little too eagerly and striving against Essel, and the fact that you didn't notice the Krekorian financial irregularities, and you start to look either very biased or very amateur.

Get it?

November 05, 2009 8:28 PM  

Anonymous armen kickyourassian said:

Y'all are just jealous. Because we are so wealthy, so good looking, and so united, versus the rest of y'all. This will be a victory for us.

November 05, 2009 8:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

What does it matter who is Parke's brother in law.

The issue is Essel campaigns coordinated attempt to break the laws of the city and rip off the tax payers.

All this other BS are just attempts to change the subject.

November 05, 2009 9:03 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hate to say it but all these Krekorian types sound like Ace Smith inspired Weissholes.
By any analysis, Essel has not broken the law and frankly, I like the fact that she has broken the stranglehold that termed out Sacramento politicians like AlerCON and Koretz have on koolaide drinking democrats.
Chis can bring a healthy dose of independence to City Hall and I hope she continues to use the rules to overcome the career politicians who have proven they cannot manage anything but their own interests.

November 05, 2009 9:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Villaraigosa and Greuel have leaned heavily on D`Arcy to do an I.E. on behalf of Essel. D`Arcy must own soul and spirit of poor Wendy. And when Don D`Arcy comes calling, you better deliver or else.

November 05, 2009 9:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Essel is nothing more than a downtown puppet. Go look at her list of contributors. Latham & Watkins dream candidate. She's going down on Nov 8.

November 05, 2009 9:35 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

9:31PM You are absolutely, certified moron to claim Essel the empty vessel will be independent. Take time to read her contributors and endorsements and you will see she is bought and paid for. Do your homework first before you blah, blah, blah.

November 05, 2009 9:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This is a great investigative reporting. Hats off to Calitics.

This is the first time that some one has laid a clear case of coordination.

Any one who believes the Essel/Shallman line on this is smoking crack.

November 05, 2009 10:22 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Soap on a rope for Shallman ~S~.

It will be real fun to see.

November 05, 2009 10:27 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I am no fan of Krekorian but the Essel posters are not doing her any favors.

If you have concrete evidence on what Krekorian is doing then outline with evidence. Just like the Calitics guy did, otherwise it appears like your just trying to change the subject.

November 05, 2009 10:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

We all suspected that Shallman was a crook. Now we know he is a crook.

What a sleaze ball.

November 05, 2009 10:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Ethics Commission is made up of five members, with one appointee from each of the following:

City Attorney
Council President
Council President Pro Tem

They are appointed for five-year terms....

November 05, 2009 10:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

AV is pushing IBEW really hard for an Essel IE.

Essel's people are saying it will be in the quarter million dollar range.

As far as this story is concerned, it is totally believable. It is disgraceful none the less.

November 05, 2009 10:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The LAT reporters are on to this story.

The AEG boys have apparently been central in making all of this happen

An LAT reporter left a few messages for Tim L. in his office today.

November 05, 2009 10:47 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Interesting stuff, i always suspected that a lot of these IE's were schemed with the respective campaigns.

But this is the first time i have seen any one pull it all together.

Thanks for the scoop Higby.

November 05, 2009 10:57 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

There is so much smoke being fanned here that it may almost appear as though Essel is the mayor's choice.

However, if you really know the players and read the comments on this post, you will discover that the mayor must be pushing for Krekorian.

But like I said there is a lot of smoke and your average reader can't see through it.

And the only clue I can easily reference is the first comment is the biggest screaming indicator.

November 06, 2009 2:45 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Don D`Arcy will come thru for AV. After all, he got everything he wanted in his new contract, his blackmailing notwithstanding. Paul brace yourself, this thug is ruthless. Of course the Essel/Shallman/Greuel axis will claim ignorance, again.

November 06, 2009 3:41 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Okay for thouse idiots that are saying

1. "why do the vendors not discount the rate instead of making a contribution", CAMPAIGN LAWS WOULD NOT ALLOW ANY DISCOUNTING OF RATES!!!!!!!! A discount would be a donation. F-en idiots.

2. For those that say Hagopian and others donate to Krekorian, first look at your shit then talk!!!! Sue , Sue's Wife, Shallman's wife, Essel fake pollster that had her up in the sep race, the pollsters wife, and much of his staff all gave money to Essel and that was matched. I am sure more of the vendors did too.

November 06, 2009 9:18 AM  

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