Is Hoa Van Tran the Democrats Tan Nguyen?

We have been waiting at least 40 days for Hoa Van Tran to file his amended campaign finance reports. His campaign has misrepresented their intentions regarding this filing.  They have been saying for weeks that their Treasurer is reviewing the reports and will make amendments if necessary. The problem with that statement is that their Treasurer has not changed. Their Treasurer is Phu Do Nguyen. He filed the original statements and in my opinion willfully failed to ensure that all expenditures were accurately reported.

I have previously outlined that the campaign reports filed for the initial reporting period ending March 17th did not represent all the payments made with 16 checks drawn on the campaign bank account. Among the expenses that I highlighted was the purchase of more than $5,000 in computer equipment and software.

Well in a letter to a former staffer demanding the return of the laptop computer included in that purchase, Hoa’s Attorney and Treasurer Phu Do Nguyen has publicly admitted that he willfully failed to report those expenditures. What makes this whole thing worse is that, by writing and publicly distributing this letter, the Hoa campaign is engaging in harassment and intimidation an individual responsible for the reporting of improper campaign expenditures to authorities. The very fact that this letter was published a month after the staffer left the campaign, coupled with the fact that no police report was ever filed alleging a theft makes that pretty clear.

Let’s see if I’ve got this right? Hoa Van Tran’s campaign and its operatives have apparently willfully violated campaign reporting laws and engaged in harassment, including intimidation and threats, against a whistleblower. For the record Tan Nguyen sent out a letter to Latino voters suggesting that they could not vote if they were immigrants.

So what did the Republicans do about Tan Nguyen in 2006?

Here is what OC GOP Chair Scott Baugh said when the GOP Executive Board demanded Tan Nguyen withdraw from the race.

“Such behavior is degrading and inexcusable,” said Chairman Baugh.  “If the law has been violated, the offenders should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and brought to justice,” Baugh explained.

“The Republican Party of Orange County is the Party of the ‘Open Door.’ We are deeply saddened and disturbed that a Republican nominee’s campaign would engage in such obnoxious behavior,” said Chairman Scott Baugh.

Chairman Baugh and the Republican Party of Orange County have repeatedly requested an explanation from Tan Nguyen.  No response to telephone calls or emails has been forthcoming.  The Republican Party of Orange County therefore requests that Tan Nguyen withdraw from the race.

“The Republican Party of Orange County will not tolerate any voter intimidation,” said Chairman Baugh.

To make this even clearer, Frank Barbaro and Democratic Party of Orange County officials have repeatedly requested an explanation regarding the campaign reporting discrepancies and demanded that amended returns be filed. No response other than, “if there are mistakes we will correct them,” has been forthcoming.

When the OC GOP witnessed voter intimidation and improper conduct they said, “The Republican Party of Orange County will not tolerate any voter intimidation.”

So what will the Democrats do? 

So far, they have demanded that Mr. Tran file amended returns by the close of business on Monday (today) or they will reconsider his endorsement at their meeting tonight. The agenda item also states that if Tran does file the amended returns the item will be withdrawn from the agenda.

At this point the matter is much greater than just some campaign finance reporting problems. Hoa Van Tran’s campaign has engaged in outrageous and obnoxious behavior including harassment and willful and fraudulent acts to defame the character of a former employee for causing the reporting of possible improper conduct to authorities.

While Hoa is not engaged in intimidating voters, he and his campaign treasurer are now engaged in blatant retaliation against a whistleblower. Regardless of whether Hoa Van Tran files amended returns, the Democratic Party of Orange County needs to distance itself from such boorish behavior and flagrant violation of the laws of the State of California.

Hoa Van Tran is responsible for the actions of people working on his behalf. The Democratic Party of Orange County needs to stand against such behavior. The most effective way of doing so is to withdraw their endorsement of Hoa Van Tran. The Republicans had the back-bone to demand that their candidate withdraw from the race.

So what will the Democrats do?  

  9 comments for “Is Hoa Van Tran the Democrats Tan Nguyen?

  1. Any Word?
    May 19, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Has Hoa filed his amendments yet today? Does he understand the importance of this process? If he were smart, he would have told his staff to fix this immediately. His delay could be the deadly shot to his campaign. It’s unfortunate as he seems like a very nice person.

  2. Bladerunner
    May 19, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I think the DPOC’s response has been measured. They gave Hoa the benefit of the doubt about some issues and endorsed him. They’ve given him notice of a deadline in which to comply with the law or risk having the endorsement yanked. It appears that all they have received is “The check’s in the mail” from Hoa. If it’s not in the DPOC will be fully justified in dumping him.

    But if it does come in I think the better course is to do what they told the campaign they would do—take it off calendar. With all due respect Chris you don’t start creating a new reason to withdraw the endorsement just for the sake of endorsement. I doubt if they will comply and submit the amended report but if they do they should not take action on it tonight. However, to guard against the possibility that any amended report is a sham, they should refer the matter back to the E-Board and authorize the E-Board to take further action, including a possible endorsement revocation, if further action is warranted.

    And Chris, while there are some similarities, Tan engaged in voter suppression which the GOP nationally is under court order not to do(based on the Lousiana and new Jersey injunctions). That plus the RPOC’s shameful experience here in OC in 1988 caused the swift reaction by the Reps. I;m not suggesting the DPOC not act, simply that the two situations are not quite on point.

  3. just...asking?
    May 19, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Hoa is a nice guy, just doesn’t seem very electable. If he can’t keep his campaign in order how is he going to keep the 1st District in order?

  4. KimChi Nguyen
    May 19, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    My fellow Democrats:

    I write this response with the intent that we, and when I say we I mean us Democrats, take a breather and think about what’s going on within our party in regards to Hoa Van Tran’s campaign and the future growth of the Democratic Party in Central Orange County.

    The personality conflict and associated drama between campaign staffers and supporters, past and present, Bloggers and party activists serves only to hamstring Hoa Van Tran’s Campaign and collaterally alienate a significant portion of Vietnamese Americans from becoming Democrats and voting for Democratic candidates whether they be Vietnamese or not. As far as amending the report, this issue has been blown out of proportion. The report is amended, as required by the FPPC, not as demanded by the bloggers pandered to on the right and appeased on the left.

    Beyond that, I know there are greater issues before us to discuss and opportunities to maximize for the greater benefit of all Democrats. Democrats have the opportunity to solidify the relationship with the Vietnamese American Community with Hoa Van Tran’s candidacy independent of its success. Unfortunately, in my opinion, his candidacy was fundamentally dismissed in the beginning, minimally supported and at present, I am saddened to say, actively suppressed by people within the Democratic Party. These people are supposed to be helping Democratic candidates, not undermining them. I do not state this lightly for the consequences are detrimental which will result in Central Orange County ceasing to be a Democratic strong hold for the next 8 years.

    Most everyone knows by now that Vietnamese Americans vote at a higher percentage than any other demographic in Orange County, thus it behooves Democrats to bring them inside the Democratic tent.
    Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and State Senator Lou Correa continue to invest a great deal of time, effort and resources in cultivating a relationship with the Vietnamese American electorate. The relationship can be articulated as an incumbent and tested during the election cycles. With all due respect to former State Senator Joe Dunn, former Assemblyman Tom Umberg and the Democratic Party of Orange County, and hind sight being 20/20, the shallow relationship that they accepted with Vietnamese Americans undoubtedly leaves them dramatically vulnerable should either of them decide to run again. This type of vulnerability is not limited to these two Democrats and the Party.

    Let me explain, Lou Correa and Loretta Sanchez have made significant inroads into the Vietnamese Community for more than a decade and Assemblyman Jose Solorio is continuing with this endeavor in the same manner: hiring fully bilingual and bicultural staff that see themselves as the Vietnamese vanguard (perhaps the “VanTran-Guards”) of the Democratic Party; participating in key cultural events and championing key issues specific to the community. In other words, doing what Democratic politicians and the Party have always done as before with the Irish, Italians, environmentalists, LGBT, working families etc. For all the hard work of the elects and the staffers, recent elections demonstrate that this strategy is insufficient to meet the needs of all the stakeholders of the Democratic Party.

    For example, by the time that Lou Correa ran for State Senate in 2006, had already appeared on the ballot in 5 election cycles and had very high name recognition by voters. Somehow, he almost lost the race in the fall to former Republican Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher. How could this happen when Lynn Daucher, was an unknown to most of the 34th District? The answer is Van Tran.

    Republican Assemblyman Van Tran was able to redirect a large number of Vietnamese voters to Lynn Daucher, an unknown carpet-bagger. Van Tran and his group were successful in dramatically decreasing the support that Lou Correa had received in the past from the Vietnamese Community in spite of all his long term efforts with this community.
    Janet Nguyen’s victory in the Special Election over Van Tran’s hand-picked candidate ultimately thwarted Van Tran’s Napoleonic design over Central Orange County by weakening his grip on the Vietnamese Community. This cannot be denied but her election deals with the symptom NOT the real problem facing Democrats during this election cycle.

    The question has to be asked, does Janet Nguyen retaining the Supervisorial seat this election cycle help the Democrats? The answer seems to escape many Democrats, so please allow me to share my answer:


    We already know that she is anti-Unions, anti-Latino and anti-anything Democratic. With almost 500,000 Democrats in Orange County, why are we forfeiting the opportunity of getting a Democrat elected?
    If any Democrat out there believes that Janet Nguyen helps neutralize Van Tran long term, you’re gravely mistaken; in the same way that the US government believed that Saddam Hussein would neutralize the Islamic Revolution headed by the Ayatollah Khomeini.

    It seems that many Democrats do not consider Janet Nguyen a threat against Democrats in the future; but in reality, she ALREADY poses the greatest THREAT AGAINST DEMOCRATS in the present and the near future. Party activists, bloggers, and key constituents as well as elected officials need to double check their political calculus. Do we, as Democrats, really trust that Janet Nguyen to only go against Van Tran? When one considers how powerful Janet Nguyen will be if she retains the Supervisorial seat for 8 more years, do Democrats NOT see that by tacitly supporting Janet by omission, if not outright commission, they are jeopardizing their own political future and the viability of the Democratic Party in the future.

    Because Janet Nguyen is more palatable to non-Vietnamese Republicans and thus will be more powerful than Van Tran could ever be. And sooner than later, if she is not defeated in the fall, Janet Nguyen will be more able than Van Tran to defeat whichever Democrat she goes up against, short of Loretta Sanchez.

    The problem dictates the solution. We need more Democrats of Vietnamese descent elected not just a tacit alliance with the “enemy of our enemy” or better said “choosing the lesser of two evils” would still result in something evil.

    We, as Democrats, have a choice as far as the case for Hoa Van Tran’s candidacy. Collectively we can dismiss him for a multitude of reasons such as not walking enough, not being well known, not having key endorsements outside of the Vietnamese American Democratic Club, Orange County Young Democrats and the Democratic Party of Orange County…all the other rest of the issues have already been beaten into the ground.

    I know that as a Democrat, who happens to be Vietnamese American, Hoa Van Tran CAN WIN this seat in the fall with the support of the allies of the Democratic Party. It doesn’t matter what has been said or what people have been accused of on either side, it pales in comparison when we consider the opportunity that Democrats have before us of getting the emergence of the Vietnamese American community that votes at a higher rate than any other community of interest into the Democratic fold. If you are a Democrat, do you really want to let Van Tran, Dina Nguyen and Janet Nguyen take long term possession of this group of voters?

    I, for one, am NOT. And thus I have submitted my resignation, with heavy heart but high hope, at Assemblyman Jose Solorio’s office to work full time on Hoa Van Tran’s Campaign for Supervisor. I know that Hoa is going to make it into the run-off.

    This is where I stand. How about you, my fellow Democrats.

  5. Just the facts
    May 19, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Campaign workers for supervisor candidate are jailed in shooting

    Two campaign workers for Democratic supervisorial candidate Hoa Van Tran are in Orange County Jail in connection with a shooting that occurred just hours after a Tran fundraiser in April.

  6. Paul Lucas
    May 19, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Kim Chi. You are my new hero. Thank you.

  7. Thug Life
    May 19, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    just watch yourself over there, I hear “Dopey” is always packin

  8. The Lovable Curmudgeon
    May 19, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    So we should overlook the issues we might have with a candidate simply because he is Vietnamese?
    Is Hoa the best that Democrats and the Vietnamese communities can do?
    Sorry folks, I recommend NONE OF THE ABOVE on this one.

  9. Dan Chmielewski
    May 21, 2008 at 11:00 am

    KimChi —
    A leave of absence perhaps?

Comments are closed.