GRADUATION

FPPC Investigation Intensifies on La Mirada City Councilman Andrew Serega and Others

Published May 7, 2017

Sources are telling HMG-LML the FPPC has began interviewing and collecting additional documentation concerning La Mirada Councilman Andrew Sarega and his campaign financing. Picture courtesy aschaper1.blogspot.com.

 

Staff Report

A few weeks ago, the La Mirada Lamplighter began exclusively publishing articles that a La Mirada campaign committee possibly colluded with current La Mirada City Councilman Andrew Serega and losing candidate Tony Aiello in sending out campaign hit pieces on Serega’s opponent, longtime incumbent Pauline Deal, and Aiello’s opponent – now Councilman – John Lewis.

Lewis beat Aiello who was partnering with Serega while Serega defeated Deal, his sole competitor in the race, who spent very little money on her campaign.

The HMG-LML exclusive series started with a Feb 23 article about a questionable two-sided “political hit piece” that was mailed to La Mirada residents slamming Deal and Lewis.

The mailer was sent by a campaign committee based in La Mirada called Residents for a Better La Mirada (RBLM) and had an obviously fake FPPC campaign ID of 1234567, which is a violation of the Political Reform Act and also mail fraud statutes.

 

Mailing identification on hit piece.

 

In addition, the mailer originated from zip code 76161, which indicated the first class paid hit piece was mailed from Fort Worth, Texas to residents in La Mirada.

 

City Council Campaign Getting Dirty in La Mirada

 

HMG-LML subsequently obtained campaign documents from the La Mirada City Clerk’s office that showed a large sum of obscure campaign monies had been given to a RBLM.

RBLM received only one donation from a La Habra based construction company.

The committee used the money on the hit pieces that slammed Lewis and Deal.

A company called Diamond Construction and Design donated money to RBLM and listed its company address as 921 N Harbor Blvd. #622 in La Habra.

HMG-LML went out to the La Habra address and found it to be a PO Box in a UPS Store located in a strip mall.

 

The UPS store in La Habra which Diamond Construction and Design lists as its primary address.

 

Diamond donated a staggering $6,500 to RBLM, which was the only donation listed in the documents.

The campaign documents showed that RBLM was responsible for the three political, direct-mail advertisement hit pieces against Lewis and Deal.

 

DARK MONEY DONATIONS INFLUENCING LA MIRADA CITY COUNCIL RACE

 

 

HMG-LML subsequently examined the campaign documents and three direct mail hit pieces sent out by RBLM against Deal and Lewis.

HMG-LML also examined the campaign documents and direct mail pieces sent out by Aiello and Serega promoting their own campaigns.

The similarities between the information on the RBLM, Serega, and Aiello campaign documents, the mail pieces and campaign flyers strongly indicated coordination between the parties.

Coordination between an “Independent Expenditure” (IE) committee such as RBLM and any candidate(s) is a violation of Fair Political Practices Commission laws under the Political Reform Act.

USED THE SAME PRINTER AND POST OFFICE IN TEXAS-

According to campaign documents, the three direct mail pieces sent out by RBLM against Deal and Lewis were printed at Print Place located at 1130 Ave. H East in Arlington, Texas.

They were mailed from zip code 76161, which is a United States Post Office in Fort Worth, Texas.

Aiello’s campaign documents show his mail pieces printed at Print Place 1130 Ave. H East in Arlington, Texas and postmarked and mailed from the same US Post Office in zip code 76161.

Examining all of Serega’s mail and campaign flyers show printing at Print Place 1130 Ave. H East in Arlington, Texas. One mailer Serega sent out was postmarked out of Arlington, Texas where Print Place is located.

In addition, all direct mailed flyers were very similar in design, indicating the same graphics designer was used for RBLM, Aiello, and Serega.

 

LA MIRADA CITY COUNCIL CAMPAIGN EMBROILED IN CONTROVERSY AND POSSIBLE ILLEGAL COORDINATION

 

A later HMG-LML article showed further evidence of collaboration between Sarega and Aiello, not only on campaign administrative details, but with similar donations.

According to Sarega’s LinkedIn page, he is co-founder of SAS Marketing.

An internet records search indicated that SAS and Andrew Sarega is the registered owner for Aiello2017.com which was Candidate Aiello’s campaign website address.

The website has since been taken down, likely because of the investigation, but an examination of website history shows Aiello’s website did exist.

 

A cached webpage of Tony Aiello’s website, Aiello2017.com, which has been taken down. The site was registered under Serega’s name. Click on image to view larger document.

 

In addition, Aiello’s and Sarega’s campaign documents show donations from identical companies: Tam’s Burgers, Boulevard Burgers, and Mr. V’s Bar and Grill.

 

Additional Connections Are Troubling Between La Mirada Council Candidates Aiello and Sarega

 

The HMG-LML series led to the Fair Political Practices Commission opening an investigation on Serega, Aiello, and RBLM.

Now sources are telling HMG-CN that the investigation into the parties is intensifying with interviews and additional document requests.

The investigation began with an FPPC letter that stated, “this is to notify you (Andrew Serega) that the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission will investigate the allegations, under the jurisdiction of the Commission, of the sworn complaint you submitted in the above referenced matter. You will next receive notification from us upon final disposition of the case.”

 

 

Some days after that, the City of La Mirada received a request from the FPPC asking for all campaign statements.

Apparently those campaign statements are yielding information that is intensifying the investigation.

The intensity of the investigation has apparently placed so much  pressure on Serega that he is lashing out at any news media in the area in retribution of the allegations.

After the announcement of the FPPC investigation, the Lamplighter contacted former Councilwoman Pauline Deal, who lost to Serega and was the subject of two derogatory political pieces direct mailed to residents paid for by RBLM, who stated,”My hope is that the FPPC would do a thorough investigation. They are the only ones who can determine if any unethical activity has taken place and will enable the truth to be known.”

HMG-LML texted Aiello for comment but that text went unreturned.

Sources are now telling HMG-LML that a recall campaign aimed at Serega is currently in the planning stages.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, a recall campaign would need a “proponent,” who must be a La Mirada resident who files a Notice of Intent to Recall document signed by 20 residents.

The Notice is filed with the La Mirada City Clerk, published in an adjudicated newspaper, after which the proponents have 60 days to collect signatures of registered voters, the percentage need is between 25-30%.

If enough signatures are gathered, the City Clerk checks the validity of the signatures  and a recall election can be called 88 days after that.

 

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