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Governor’s Office Silent on Martha Guzman-Aceves Conflict of Interest, Financial Scandal

Martha Guzman-Aceves

Deputy Legislative Secretary Martha Guzman-Aceves was appointed by Governor Brown in 2011.

Office of the Governor refusing to take phone calls and comment on HMG-CN story.

By Brian Hews and Randy Economy

Two weeks ago, Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper published an investigative report detailing how California Deputy Legislative Secretary Martha Guzman-Aceves intentionally filed false documents with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), concealed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and omitted third-party relationships that directly conflict with her position and duties as Deputy Legislative Secretary in the Office of Governor Jerry Brown.

The report also documented how Deputy Legislative Secretary Guzman-Aceves, her boss Legislative Secretary Gareth Elliott, and California Secretary of Labor David Lanier violated state law and the Governor’s own Conflict of Interest Policy by failing to turn over complete and accurate records to the FPPC as required by law.

The response to the story in Sacramento has been overwhelming, with the expose garnering over 10,000 hits within seven days, and with many high-ranking Sacramento officials telling HMG-CN they were “shocked” at the revelations.

That is with the exception of the Office of the Governor.

HMG-CN has placed three calls into the OG since Aug. 4 and yet Governor Jerry Brown’s office still refuses to answer a simple inquiry: Does the Governor’s Office requires its appointees to fill out financial disclosure forms as was the rule for prior administrations? If the answer is yes, as it should be, given Guzman-Aceves’ outside lobbying company and her monetary connections to various environmental and labor groups, will she recuse herself from her current position?

HMG-CN sources in Sacramento are saying they are dodging the questions because the OG has a plan in motion to discredit the story.

The plan is for the OG to float the statement that appointees such as Guzman-Aceves do not need to fill out Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests.

HMG-CN conducted several inquiries into the matter and was told by an attorney and two City Clerks that anyone appointed or elected to public office must fill out the Form 700.

The attorney, who did not want to be identified, said, “If the OG did not require appointees to fill out the Form 700, why did Guzman-Aceves file hers for three years straight?”

HMG-CN also possesses 68 pages of Form 700’s, obtained from the same public records request, from every other Deputy Legislative Secretary in the Brown Administration.

The sources in Sacramento are also saying that the OG, using taxpayer dollars, has appointed a “special counsel” to further discredit the revelations in the article, but that cannot be confirmed.

Other political administrations have ignored inquiries when HMG-CN revealed scandals surrounding the Central Water Basin and the Calderon family, including the tens of thousands of dollars in campaign money transfers from Assemblyman Ian Calderon to his father, Charles Calderon who was running for Superior Court Judge.

A few years earlier, Charles had given Ian $40,000 in campaign funds for website services and consulting. After a thorough investigation by HMG-CN and other media outlets, there was no evidence of a campaign website or social media presence.

With three prominent Democratic members of the state legislature facing federal and state prosecution for corruption, arms dealing and money laundering, HMG-CN started focusing on the Office of the Governor.

After reviewing thousands of documents, HMG-CN found over 39 Government Code violations committed by Guzman-Aceves including concealing hundreds of thousands of dollars and ignoring, for financial gain, major conflicts of interest.

Until it mysteriously went dark after our story printed Aug. 4, she was intimately connected to Cultivo Consulting. The lobbying firm’s website, that listed Guzman-Aceves’ cell phone number as contact, has a long list of issues that closely mirror the very same issues she is charge of overseeing on her state job.

Her non-profit organizations entered into contracts with the same groups she is tasked to oversee in her state job and she accepted contributions into various political organizations to her benefit.

Her signature is on the tax returns for one of these groups, and her business partner is President of another, while her former employee runs a related political committee as its Treasurer.

HMG-CN questions to the Governor’s office are simple:

Are all Governor’s appointees required to fill out a financial disclosure documents Form 700?

Did Martha Guzman-Aceves fill-out all the necessary documents to your satisfaction?

On its surface, the lobbying firm, the lobbying firm’s cell phone ringing in the Governor’s office, and the acceptance of money from same groups she oversees, are a conflict of interest. Would you agree?

Is the Governor’s office taking any necessary steps to ensure there is a firewall between Aceves-Guzman is lobbying work, her outside activities and her current job?  If so, what are they?

Three calls into the Governor’s office have garnered no response.

HMG-CN will be having additional updates about this situation during the next several weeks and month.

Got a Tip or a Comment?

Call or write Publisher Brian Hews or Investigative Reporter Randy Economy at (562) 407-3873 or [email protected] or [email protected].

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