Can You Possibly Serve Two Masters?

Tonight the DPOC Central Committee is meeting and one of the actions that is likely to be discussed is stripping First District Supervisorial candidate Hoa Van Tran of the party’s endorsement.  Alicia Berhow is a member of the DPOC’s endorsement committee and according to my sources she and others with whom she has close ties to have been lobbying hard for the party to strip Hoa of the endorsement.

At first glance this simply appears to be a reaction to the potential campaign report irregularities that folks like Chris Prevatt and Matt Cunningham have been blogging incessantly about for the past several weeks.  However when one takes another look there may be more at play here than just that.  Upon further review there is a potential conflict of interest regarding Ms. Berhow, her position with the party and her place of employment.

Ms. Berhow was a staffer for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez for five years and as was reported by Mike Lawson here on the Liberal OC on April 3, 2007, she left her position with Loretta to work for the Orange County Business Council.  So in April of 2007 Berhow began in her new position of Director of Workforce Development for the OCBC. 

The OCBC described itself as the following, “The Orange County Business Council serves pro-business interests so that the region’s vibrant economy will continue to expand, bringing the benefits of prosperity to every corner of the county.”  The is a clear indication that the OCBC is a Republican leaning organization which is verified by their political involvement as well.

The potential conflict involving Ms. Berhow does not simply arise out of her employment with the OCBC, however it does potentially arise out of her involvement in attempting to strip Hoa Van Tran of the party’s endorsement.  According to a May 15th post on OC Blog and to Janet Nguyen’s re-election website, Supervisor Nguyen has received the endorsement of the Orange County Business Council.

The fact that Ms. Berhow serves as a member of the DPOC’s endorsement committee while in the employment of the Orange County Business Council could quite possibly lead to the appearence of a conflict of interest.  Questions could quite possibly arise as to whose interests is she looking out for, the DPOC’s or her employers?  Can she possibly serve two masters?

This relationship could lead towards a strain in the relationship between our party and labor groups if labor feels that a member of the party’s endorsement committee is actually doing the bidding of the OCBC.  I have no evidence to verify that this is indeed the case, however sometimes the appearence of such a conflict is all that is needed to spark such a dispute or strain.

The DPOC’s relationship with labor is far more important than any one person or an any one election.  Labor must know that the DPOC and the folks in leadership positions within the party are looking out for their best interests.  We cannot at the end of the day have labor officials asking themselves if members of the party’s endorsement committee are serving two conflicting masters.

  31 comments for “Can You Possibly Serve Two Masters?

  1. WFB
    May 19, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Sean – Has it occured to you that business and labor could agree on certain issues and candidates?

    Happens quite often.

  2. just...asking?
    May 19, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Sean,

    A lot of good democrats work for OCBC!

    Recently elected and party supported School Board Member Jordan Brandman employed by OCBC. A number of staffers are democrats. OCBC focus is on growing the OC economy. They have been very supportive of education reforms which increase options for kids beyond high school. Workforce Development including vocational training has proven quite successful for OC kids.

    I don’t agree with all OCBC postitions, I don’t agree with all your positions, but I don’t challenge your right to participate in party activities outside of your work. Why would you challenge Berhow’s right to political activites outside of her workplace?

  3. May 19, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Sean,

    And what about your close ties to Edgardo Reynoso, and the Hoa Van Tran campaign? You have posted a letter on the behalf of the campaign that was both false and defamatiory.

    Alicia Berhow, is not involved in an effort to rescind Hoa Van Tran’s endorsement. An overwhelming number of the DPOC Executive Board members voted to place the item on the agenda. That was before you posted the letter from Phu Do Nguyen. Now a lot of people think the endorsement should be rescinded.

    For the record I am one of those who is encouraging members to rescind the endorsement of Hoa. I am doing so because Hoa Van Tran has demonstrated gross incompetence. He is not worthy of the party endorsement. My effort is driven by the fact that Hoa Van Tran has acted with willful ignorance of, or complicity with, the actions made in his behalf.

    The web of lies from Reynoso and the Hoa campaign is starting to unravel, just as the lies of Tan Nguyen unraveled in 2006. Trying to deflect those problems by tossing around wild and unsubstantiated allegations against Alicia Berhow is bull crap an libel.

  4. May 19, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Oh god. That picture and link brings up bad memories.

    Shit.

  5. Bladerunner
    May 19, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Sean, I disagree that Alicia has a conflict. No more than if she worked for the Central labor Council still worked for Loretta, or anyone else. If there is a financial or legal conflict of interest members should recuse themselves. So if the Central Committee was bidding out a poll and her husband (hypothetical hubby)was the pollster than she should recuse herself. If she is a member of the Committee and rendering an opinion(I haven’t seen any opinions from her) than her OCBC position and their endorsement of Janet may be fair game. But otherwise I think its irrelevant. We all bring our ideological and political baggage to a Central Committee. You start carving out a new conflict of interest domain and you’ll lack a quorum.

  6. Paul Lucas
    May 19, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Chris,
    Why are you urging people on the central committee to take an action that you favor? You have stated time and again that you don’t have a horse in this race since you live in Long Beach and are not a central committee member. You make this claim in order to further your stance that you are not working on behalf of Janet Nguyen’s re-election campaign.

    How exactly are you urging people to take this action against Hoa Van Tran and myself? If you have contact list of central committee members, you have obviously obtained those lists illegally from a member of the DPOC staff or central committee. That member can face censure or termination for allowing you to have those lists.

    I think it is a legitimate question to ask if there is a conflict of interest in having Ms Berhow on the endorsement committee of the DPOC when her employer endorses in this race as well. I think that there are too many opportunities for impropriety on behalf of the OCBC to influence the DPOC endorsement process. So I think this may be a legitimate concern.

    By the way, I do believe that Van Tran has received the OCBC endorsement in the past. This may be a situation of too much overlap in relation to Miss Berhow’s position on the DPOC endorsement committee.

    As far as Alicia trying to influence people to not endorse Hoa Van Tran, I have confirmation that her boyfriend was one of the people calling central committee members to not endorse Hoa as well as to vote in favor of censuring and or reprimanding me.

    Even you have to see the impropriety of this Chris. He is not even a member of the Central Committee. For him to obtain lists of central Committee members and to phone bank people encouraging an action on behalf of his girlfriend is a serious infraction on the democratic process. I know for a fact hat Berhow in her role on the DPOC Endorsement Committee urged the members of that committee to not endorse Hoa Van Tran.

    I find her advocacy to deny the endorsement of the only democrat in the BOS Race a violation of the DPOC By laws and the code of Conduct when taken into account her employers endorsement of the incumbent Republican in the race. I believe she should have reused herself from that decision and in the light that the OCBC makes endorsements, she should recused herself from the committee for as long as she is employed by and entity that makes endorsements.

  7. May 19, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Chris,

    Close ties? I have spoken to Edgardo and the Hoa Van Tran campaign on few occasions. Is that what you call “close ties”?

    Libel? Are you kidding me? Nothing in my post is untrue. Sources tell me that Alicia and others have been working behind the scenes to undermine the party endorsement for Hoa.

    Alicia is on the endorsement committee for the DPOC. Alicia works for the OCBC. The OCBC endorsed Janet. There is an appearence of a potential conflict of interest.

    Chris you do not live in the First District. I do. I don’t appreciate outsiders helping Janet win an election to serve me.

  8. The Lovable Curmudgeon
    May 19, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Looks like Sean learned quite a bit from Art Pedroza el mentiroso over at OJ (Pedroza the liar).
    The fine art that is the politics of rumor, innuendo, and personal destruction.
    Pedroza remains the master of demonizing anyone linked in any way to his current enemy.
    So, Sean, will you take a few minutes break from being Edgardo’s stooge and stop trying to DISTRACT from the issue of the amendment?
    WHERE is Hoa’s complete report?
    WHAT has he been trying to hide all this time?
    WHY was he attempting to keep his true contributions and expenses away from public scrutiny?
    And WHAT ELSE is the guy hiding?

  9. Mr. Mills
    May 19, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Hey Sean what you have to say about Hoa’s Staffers being arrested on Attempted murder charges

  10. May 19, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Sean-

    I’m sorry, but this is WAY out of line!! You know I’ve been vocal in the recent past about my opposition to the unfair Hoa bashing and Lucas bashing going on here. But as I told you on Friday, two wrongs don’t make a right. And yes, I think it’s totally wrong to drag Alicia Berhow into this brouhaha.

    What does Alicia’s job with the OCBC have to do with any of this? As just asking said upthread, many loyal Democrats work for OCBC. And last I checked, Alicia doesn’t make political decisions for the council. This is a real low blow, and while I’d never tell you what to do… I think it may be a good decision to take this down.

  11. May 19, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Andrew,

    Nothing in this post is untrue. NOTHING!!!

    There is an appearance of a conflict of interest at play here. All I did was point that out.

    Love how you folks circle the wagons in an attempt to protect your friends from reality. That is very noble. Unfortunately for the good of the party’s future in central OC I feel these are discussions that need to take place.

  12. May 19, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Can someone tell me how these posts help us understand the issues better and what is facing our State and County? How does this help anyone?

    Is this the blog for Party Insiders, did I miss something?

    Is this going to help teachers keep their jobs? Is this going to push forward the issue of Universal health care in our State? Is this going to ensure clean drinking water for future generations? Is any of this going to help people know how to vote in June or November?

    I’m serious when I ask these questions because I scroll through the diaries here and see a lot of pissing contests about minutia that I’m sure a lot of people could care less about.

  13. May 19, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Sadly I never see responses like this from Heather on the numerous posts trashing Democrats like Hoa Van Tran and Paul Lucus.

    Heather please help me understand why you only take offense to this when I post something and not when others do.

  14. May 19, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Sean – I was referring to other posts as well, “I scroll through the diaries here”, your was the first of quite a couple on the front page, from Paul Lucas to hinky financial reporting.

    I guess reading everything here just pushed me to comment on the whole thing, so it’s not a personal issue with just you Sean.

  15. The Lovable Curmudgeon
    May 19, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I’m relatively certain that Mr. Lucas is mistaken in his 2:38 pm comment.
    Members of county central committees are elected by the voters. Their names and contact information are a matter of public record and not some dark secret.
    It is neither improper nor illegal to distribute contact lists to interested parties.
    Claiming so is quite a reach.

  16. May 19, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Heather,

    I hear you on this one. I wish we could stick to the issues as well. However since some folks seem hell bent on destroying Democrats I must stand my ground.

    I live in the district represented by Janet Nguyen and I am not happy about that. Janet is on the wrong side of the issues. Harping on campaign reports and ignoring Janet’s history of being anti-labor and anti-Latino does the people of the First District a disservice.

    People seem more upset about somebody doing something against Janet than they are by the fact that we are simply handing her this seat.

    This is a Democratic seat and many of those involved in handing the seat to Janet are now attacking Dems. This just angers me.

  17. May 19, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    The trusty “all I did…” excuse. Right up there with “just” as a weasel word/phrase that allow a persons to conjure up the “appearance” of a conflict and then retreat to “Hey, all I did was just point out there might be…” when there’s push back.

  18. May 19, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Yes, we are in agreement Sean because I’m not seeing much about the issues and Orange County is a lot bigger than the first supervisor race. I know this is your area too, I understand that completely. And I believe that supporting Democrats is so important, so much so, that maybe when people take the leap and run as Dems they might get the benefit of the doubt.

    This doesn’t mean we put up with blantant campaign finance law violations and turn our heads to obvious screw ups. Being someone who is dealing with a campaign for the first time in their life, it’s easy to make mistakes if you don’t have the expertise or the money to hire someone. I just like the idea of giving people the benefit of the doubt, EVEN Republicans.

  19. Question
    May 19, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Has Hoa amended his reports yet, Sean?

  20. May 19, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Heather-

    I completely agree. That’s why you hardly ever see me entering into these pissing matches… Unless I have to come in to stop the madness. I’m getting sick and tired of the continual hits on Paul Lucas, the unfair swipes at former Hoa staffers, the malicious attacks on good Dems like Alicia that have NOTHING to do with any of this BS, and the overall insanity surrounding anything possibly related to the perverted joke that this First Supe race has become.

    Even though I happen to live in this district, I’m fed up with all the melodrama. Whatever happens tonight at Central Committee, I just hope we can all stop talking about it after tomorrow. At this point, this race has become nothing more than a distraction to the REAL issues and REAL races that OC Democrats should care about this year.

    Sean-

    I hate doing this. I really do. Do you think I like having to publicly disagree with you or Chris? I don’t.

    But when you go along with Edgardo Reynoso’s efforts to trash good, upstanding Democrats like the former Hoa staffer and Alicia Berhow, I don’t know what else to do. The more Hoa’s campaign engages in this kind of politics of personal destruction, the more I want to regret whatever public support I threw Hoa’s way. If you have a chance to communicate with Hoa’s campaign, let them know that if they want any help from local Democrats like me, they need to stop engaging in these low blows.

    It’s as simple as that.

  21. May 19, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Andrew,

    How exactly am I trashing Alicia Berkow? By pointing out that she has lobbied against Hoa? By pointing out that she works for the OCBC? By pointing out that she is on the DPOC endorsement committee? By pointing out that her employer has endorsed Janet Nguyen?

    Please expand on this for me so I can understand what is wrong about pointing out the potential of a conflict of interest.

    It is clear that there is a faction of folks that have an axe to grind with Edgardo and that they are willing to throw away the First District in an effort to attack him. Try not getting caught up in this group think Andrew. It is going to undermine the efforts of Dems in central OC for years to come. I know you don’t want that.

    As far as the former staffer goes, all they need to do is produce proof that they have legal rights to the lap top computer and I will gladly post it on this site and condemn Hoa’s campaign. Without proof I have to believe the info released by the campaign is the truth.

  22. Paul Lucas
    May 19, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Andrew,
    I share your sentiment that this issue has gone completely off the page and is a major distraction from winning seats in oc for democrats. However, I o think you are being somewhat one sided in your criticisms of the dialogue.

    Some unfair accusations and hyperbole have been flung around by allot of people at a few people. Mainly me, Hoa, and Edgardo. Everyone gets the idea that Edgardo is not liked in oc dem circles. That point is clear. But I think that issue has been used as the main focus of trying to dog pile on Hoa van trans campaign. Not one single incident in past years can be documented where the campaigns finances have been used to call into question whether a candidate should keep his endorsement by the dpoc.

    Some legitame issues are addressed here such as campign reports, collaboration between dems and reeps, positons on committees in the party etc. However, I do think the discussion has gone out of bounds in regards to civility and there should be a meeting with the chair and vice chair of the dpoc and individuals to work out these issues and draw clear boundaries regarding all these issues.

  23. May 19, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Question,

    I will look into that.

    While I am doing that can you find out if that laptop has been returned or if the proof that it wasn’t stolen has been provided yet?

    Thanks!

  24. demmother
    May 19, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Sorry Sean,

    You are dead wrong on this one. Ms. Berhow is one of the most conscientious people I know. She does not suffer fools. I do not know your source, but this sounds as if someone has an ax to grind.

    Many DPOC members work for other entities or volunteer for other organizations. Hopefully all can compartmentalize. Hopefully, there is full disclosure of affiliations.

    If you are so concerned about appearance of a conflict of interest, why not ask why one Republican Central Committee Member (seeking re-election) is also running for Judge and another individual seeking Republican Central Committee office is on the short list to be our next County Sheriff.

    I firmly believe in freedom of association. You can be a good Dem and work for the OCBC or OCCLC-AFL-CIO. I have no problem with City Council Members, School Board Trustees, etc. sitting on their respective central committees. Running for Judge or being the top cop with full association with a partisan organization makes me a tad squeamish.

  25. May 19, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Sean & Paul-

    You both know that I’ve gone out of my way to be fair to everyone here. And sorry, but I don’t think it would be fair if I were to only call out Chris & all the anti-Hoa posters here for going too far while I ignore the legitimate concerns over Hoa’s imploding campaign as well as Hoa’s campaign’s vicious attacks on other Democrats. I’m sorry, but you can’t blame Hoa’s problems on Alicia or the former Hoa staffer or Chris… Hoa needs to start taking responsibility for his own campaign problems.

    I’m really near the breaking point here. And again, two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because Chris has been harsh on Hoa doesn’t give the two of you the right to bash him and bring in folks who have NOTHING to do with “Hoa-gate” into this melee. So if Hoa still wants my support and the two of you want my respect, you need to tell Hoa to start taking responsibility for his campaign and stop allowing Edgardo to condct this disgusting smear campaign against other Democrats in his name.

  26. May 19, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Andrew,

    You continue to ignore my questions.

    I will repost them for you:

    How exactly am I trashing Alicia Berkow? By pointing out that she has lobbied against Hoa? By pointing out that she works for the OCBC? By pointing out that she is on the DPOC endorsement committee? By pointing out that her employer has endorsed Janet Nguyen?

  27. The Lovable Curmudgeon
    May 19, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    How about I take a stab at your initial question – the title of this post.
    Some people can indeed “serve two masters.”
    I think Alicia might in fact be able to do so.
    But I don’t think Sean can. He remains unwilling (unable?) to see the obvious flaws with his preferred candidate. He uses the forum here to attack and incite rather than inform.
    Now that I’ve responded to your question, how about addressing mine:
    Why should any voter in central OC support Hoa Van Tran? I’ve seen that he shares an ethnic heritage with one community in the district, and he happens to be registered as a Democrat, but please tell me what Mr. Tran has done to qualify him for a vote?

  28. Paul Lucas
    May 19, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Andrew,
    I see your point trust me I do. This whole situation has gotten out of hand. But to be fair, I do believe that Chris has been fanning the flames of this whole thing unnecessarily. Case in point the posting today of myself as a Trojan Horse and Hoa Van Tran as the next Tan Nguyen. Sean posted an article calling into question a member of the DPOC endorsement committee.

    I believe it is a legitimate concern and it should be reviewed. If no conflict of interest is discovered then the issue is resolved

    Additionally, should Hoa Van Tran amend his reports I think that the issue of Edgardo as his campaign manager should not be brought up as a point of argument. Hoa has the right to hire who ever he wants to run his campaign. Issues relating to former staffer and missing equipment should be resolved as well. Proof should be presented as the nature of ownership of the laptop and any agreements made as to the ownership of that laptop in order to put the issue to rest.

    A great deal of time and emotion has been wasted in this while fiasco and the only ones benefiting from it are Janet Nguyen and Dina Nguyen and the GOP.

  29. May 19, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Sean-

    I’m sorry I blew up on you. You’re a great blogger, and I usually enjoy reading your stuff here. You’ve always earned my respect here.

    However, I still disagree with your recent postings of Edgardo’s false accusations against other Democrats. From what I’ve heard, Chris is correct when he says that Alicia Berhow has had nothing to do with the effort to rescind the DPOC endorsement of Hoa Van Tran. And come on, you should know better when it comes to Alicia not agreeing with OCBC’s political endorsements. Your allegation against Alicia is no different from Art Pedroza falsely accusing you of having something to do with Thomas Gordon being kicked off the SA EPIC Commission.

    So please, can you check the facts before taking Edgardo’s word on something? He has a bad reputation among OC Democrats for a good reason… He simply can’t be trusted. And with his prodding you to post these allegations against good Democrats like Alicia Berhow and Hoa’s former staffer, Edgardo’s proving to us why he can’t be trusted.

  30. Thomas Gordon
    May 19, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Two campaign workers for Democratic supervisorial candidate Hoa Van Tran are in Orange County Jail on charges of attempted murder in connection with a shooting that occurred just hours after a Hoa Van Tran fundraiser April 8 at Original Mike’s in Santa Ana.

    Tran campaign staffers Jorge Valle and Cesar Valle, both reputed members of the Krazy Proud Criminal gang, were arrested April 9.

    Photos of staffers taken inside Tran’s headquarters included alleged members of the KPC and Santa Nita gangs according to law enforcement officials.

    Read more: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/tran-valle-gang-2046561-campaign-members

  31. Anonymous
    May 19, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Why does Sean have to be such a shill? Does he believe he has some sort of political future as a Democrat in this county — much less in Santa Ana?

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