Newly obtained evidence reveals Larry Agran–the Irvine political boss who wrecked the Great Park plan by diverting millions of dollars to his pals in no bid contracts and lost control of the city in the 2012 elections–is hoping his November campaign slate with Melissa Fox and Mary Ann Gaido will retake power based on a lie, according to the OC Weekly, which also reported that:
Worse for the dwindling number of residents still clinging to hope that Agran can be an honest politician is this alarming fact: At the same time, he, Gaido and Fox are advocating a moratorium on building, they are privately winking otherwise at wealthy real estate developers in exchange for campaign contributions.
Pam Sapetto is a highly successful, real estate developer lobbyist. In her promotional materials, Sapetto boasts that she is responsible for “over 60 million square feet of commercial and industrial development and over 45,000 residential units” mostly in Irvine and approved while Agran presided. She is tied to traffic-increasing projects such as Park Place, Irvine Spectrum, Jamboree Research Center, University Research Park, Irvine Technology Center, Colton Plaza, Koll Center, Jamboree Center, Irvine Plaza and Jeffrey Office Park.
If Sapetto’s business is clearly based on winning massive construction permits, why would she send to real estate developers an August 26 email that encouraged them to contribute to the pro-moratorium Agran-Fox-Gaido team?
In the email obtained by OC Weekly, Sapetto–an outspoken, longtime Agran ally–advised the developers, “As for contributions: $249 from each corporation that has a project before the city or will have a project before the city within the next year. I would stick to $249. You can also choose to make individual contributions of $99. $99 does not meet the reporting threshold and so does not have to be disclosed on campaign statements. You can also bring as many $99 checks that you would like from others in your company or your consultants.”
The lobbyist cleared up any possible confusion about that point in her fundraising pitch, writing, “I know there has been discussion about whether Mary Ann, Larry or Melissa will be supporting development. I have been assured by them that they will continue to support IBC [Irvine Business Complex] development.”
Sapetto along with real estate developers Alethea Hsu, Dan Withee and Laura Archuleta hosted a two-hour, September 9 fundraiser for the Agran-Gaido-Fox slate.
The Irvine City Council Tuesday voted 3-1 to hire a special counsel to review whether votes by City Commissioners Fox and Gaido, on a high-density apartment project should be invalidated after a lobbyist’s email indicated they had pre-committed to their decisions, according to the Voice of OC.
A new TV commercial corrects the record about development in Irvine and highlights Agran and Gaido’s role in approving 100,000 residential units in Irvine.
Mayor Steven Choi, Councilwoman Christina Shea and Councilman Jeff Lalloway have only been in the City Council majority in Irvine for two years. All of the development that has happened in Irvine in the past 12 years was approved by Agran and Gaido. And it is obvious that they are secretly planning to keep on over-developing Irvine – although they are blatantly lying about it to the voters.
Sapetto by the way is also a lobbyist for a high density apartment developer in Santa Ana named Ryan Ogulnick. He too has been involved in campaign finance shenanigans before, in Santa Ana.
Barry Levine, a New York-based investor alleged in late 2013 that a company which partnered him with Ogulnick, Vineyards Development Corp., which was the developer of a 271-unit apartment complex known as “The Met at South Coast,” wrote a $10,000 check to a now-defunct Hollywood nightclub called Geisha House that was spent on a party for Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez, according to the Voice of OC., which also reported that:
Martinez’s campaign finance records show that she received three contributions totaling $10,500 from Geisha House-related entities on April 10 of last year, just one day after the date of the $10,000 check to the nightclub.
A week after receiving contributions from those entities — Dolce Group Concepts LLC, Dolce Group DC LLC and Geisha House LLC, which records show are affiliated with Lonnie Moore and Mike Malin, the owners of Geisha House — Martinez voted April 16to approve Ogulnick’s apartment complex project in South Santa Ana.