QuachGate: Andy voted on matters his attorney represented before Westminster

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Councilman Andy Quach

Councilman Andy Quach

Yeah I know, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Andy Quach. When Andy Quach’s attorney Bart Kasperowicz got up before the Westminster City Council to praise his client, while not revealing that fact in his remarks, it got me thinking. I wondered, wouldn’t be interesting to see if Mr. Kasperowicz had represented clients before the city and if Andy had voted on those matters.

First I need to give you a little background here. Bart Kasperowicz and Councilman Quach have a long history. In January 2003 Councilman Quach appointed Kasperowicz to the Westminster Cultural Arts Commission. Kasperowicz has represented numerous clients before the Planning Commission and City Council over the years that Councilman Quach has been a member of the Council. On those occasions Councilman Quach, as far as I have been able to determine, has always voted in favor of those clients.

On May 28, 2008, Kasperowicz spoke in favor continuing the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Citryst Restaurant, located at 15440 Brookhurst Street. This is the same restaurant I wrote about in my post QuachGate: It’s a Bloomin Onion.

Bart Kasperowicz

Bart Kasperowicz

On September 26, 2008 Quach was cited by the Seal Beach Police Department for driving in excess of 100 miles per hour. He retained legal counsel to represent him in that case. That counsel was Mr. Kasperowicz. On November 5, 2008 the citation was dismissed, apparently because the City of Seal Beach did not send the officer to testify at trial.

Seven days later on November, 12, 2008 Kasperowicz represented an applicantfor permission to erect a billboard. Councilman Quach made the motion for the Council to approve the billboard request and it was approved by a 4-0 vote with Mayor Rice abstaining.

In that same meeting the next item on the agenda was the extension of the operating hours for Citryst Restaurant. At this point Planning Commission records from October 15, 2008indicate that Kasperowicz was the representative for the applicant, Citryst. In this case, Quach seconded the motion to extend the operating hours to 12:30 am daily with a review in six months. The extension of operating hours was approved on a 5-0 vote.

On April 15, 2009, the Westminster Police Department presented their recommendation to the Planning Commissionfor the revocation of the CUP for Citryst Restaurant. At that meeting Kasperowicz requested that the Commission delay consideration of the matter and defer it to the Council meeting scheduled for May 13, 2009 when the Council would be hearing the appeal of the suspension of Citryst’s permit by the Police Department. On a 3-2 vote, the Commission denied the staff request to schedule a public hearing to consider the revocation of Citryst’s CUP.

Councilman Quach was not at the Council meeting on May 13, 2009 and the Council voted to defer the hearing on the matter until their next meeting on May 27, 2009. At that meeting Councilman Quach made the motion to pull the matterof the Suspension appeal off the agenda from consideration. Quach also moved to pull the matter of review of Citryst’s CUPfrom consideration as well. Both motions passed 5-0. The result of these actions appears to indicate that Citryst ended up with out a 21 day suspension of their CUP and no further reviews by the Council or Planning Commission related to their actions.

On August 2, 2009, Councilman Andy Quach was released to his attorney Bart Kasperowicz by the Westminster Police two hours early as a “courtesy” after his DUI arrest. Mr. Kasperowicz has also represented Assemblyman Van Tran in efforts to silence Tran’s critics.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see a conflict of interest here?

We’ll keep digging. Anyone have a ladder, this rabbit hole is getting deep.

  13 comments for “QuachGate: Andy voted on matters his attorney represented before Westminster

  1. Adam D. Probolsky
    August 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Nope. No conflict.

    Just because you know the guy (or woman) who is supporting a project it doesn’t matter if he is your lawyer or butcher or dry cleaner, there is no legal conflict of interest if you pay them.

  2. Ron Albatros
    August 14, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    I read these posts all the time, but I have to say something. I think Chris is going way too far on this one. Conflict of interest doesn’t come into play if the person appearing in front of you got paid (rather than the other way around). I think this article is tring too hard after the whole Tran/Quach dui incident.

  3. August 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Adam and Ron,

    You are right, you do not have a conflict if you buy a service from someone who sells the same service to someone who has business before the government entity upon which you must decide.

    However, you do have an economic interest if the price you pay for those services is potentially influenced by your official acts or position. An example would be if you received a discount for services which is not available to other clients. In such a case, it is likely, that the discount you received is based upon your official position and would be considered as a personal financial benefit.

    From the FPPC website:
    § 18703.5. Economic Interest, Defined: Personal Finances.

    For purposes of disqualification under Government Code sections 87100 and 87103, a public official has an economic interest in his or her personal finances and those of his or her immediate family. A governmental decision will have an effect on this economic interest if the decision will result in the personal expenses, income, assets, or liabilities of the official or his or her immediate family increasing or decreasing.

    Since the public has no way of knowing what deal was worked out regarding Councilman Quach’s legal bills paid to his attorney Kasperowicz who was at the same time representing clients before him, it is reasonable to concluded that a potential conflict of interest exists. At a minimum, ethics standards require that Councilman Quach disclose the relationship and state publicly that there is no material conflict because he is paying a standard, reasonable, and customary rate for those services.

    Councilman Quach never disclosed any economic relationship between himself and Kasperowicz. That failure to disclose, while taking official action on matters that had a significant impact on his attorney’s clients, establishes at a minimum an apparent conflict of interest.
    That conflict should have been disclosed, regardless of it’s materiality, prior to participating in an official act. The public should be suspicious of any action that appears to be a conflict of interest, particularly when that conflict is undisclosed and hidden.

    The actions that Councilman Quach has taken on behalf of Citryst, both during a time he was represented by Kasperowicz and the 12 monts after that economic relationship, are on their face suspect. Particularly when you read the police department report on the repeated failure of Citryst to comply with the conditions of their permit.

  4. Matthew Cunningham
    August 14, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Wow, Chris. Calling this a stretch would be charitable.

    And saying Quach’s votes are “on their face suspect” is absolute, unalloyed bosh. For a guy who was put through the wringer by the county over the allegation you were blogging at work — an episode in which I publicly supported you — I’d think you wouldn’t be so quick to make such judgments.

    I look forward to your upcoming posts drawing links between Loretta Sanchez’s votes to award contracts to PMA Group clients and contributions from those PMA clients

  5. August 14, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Not a stretch at all Matt. An elected government official can vote on a matter affecting a contributor, provided that contribution is disclosed on finance reports.

    In this case the financial relationship and any possible “contribution”, which would have been illegal because the individual and not a campaign benefited, was not disclosed. That is what creates the problem.

    The purpose of our conflict of interest laws is to disclose financial relationships between decision makers and advocates. The key part here is a financial relationship. This is not a case of a friend or associate advocating for a project. There is a financial relationship between to parties involved in an official government action. In this case, at a minimum Councilman Quach concealed the financial relationship between himself and an advocate. That is neither ethical or lawful.

  6. Thvnk
    August 15, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I’ve just posted the following comment on the Register. Post again here. Perhaps, Chris, you could enlighten us?

    If you could read in Vietnamese, there is an article in the Nguoi Viet newspaper on 08/15/09 regarding another councilman, Tyler Diep, who has intervened with the Westminster Police Department regarding the Citryst restaurant. The thing is, Nguoi Viet newspaper is really a “Gang of Seven or Eight or Nine” newspaper. The paper deliberatedly decides to either edit/not to publish “negative” articles from the Register/LA Times on whatever “negative” news regarding those so called elected local officials. It is a reflection of the situation of the self-censored media in Vietnam today. But wonder why they suddenly has a change of heart with this article?

    http://www.nguoi-viet.com/absolutenm/anmviewer.asp?a=99712&z=3

  7. Misha Houser
    August 15, 2009 at 11:08 am

    At the very least, Andy Quach could have behaved in the same manner that Garden Grove city council member Steve Jones does. He excuses himself whenever planning commission/development issues come before the council.

    That isn’t to say that there aren’t conversations going on privately about these developments, but at least Jones goes to great pains to appear ethical and without conflict.

  8. August 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    THVNK,

    Since I do not read or comprehend the Vietnamese language I cannot comment specifically on the article at this time. I can say that another blog LittleSaigonInside has written about the article and that can be read here: http://littlesaigoninside.blogspot.com/2009/08/diep-tyler-truong-interfered-with.html

    What I can say is that if there is a change at the newspaper in its coverage it may have something to do with a change in editorial philosophy.

  9. Matthew Cunningham
    August 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    In this case the financial relationship and any possible “contribution”, which would have been illegal because the individual and not a campaign benefited, was not disclosed. That is what creates the problem.

    Chris, you are saying Andy has a conflict of interest because he hasn’t disclosed some mythical contribution that you don’t even know exists.

    What kind of crazy standard of evidence is that? It’s no standard, that’s what it is. Its not even remotely logical, and is the kind of patently unfair accusation I would expect from Art Pedroza.

  10. lottahope
    August 22, 2009 at 11:23 am

    People such as good for absolutely nothing bought and paid for creditless shill Matt Cunningham trying to do damage control for two people, Quach and Diep….nitpicking this conflict of interest. Anyone can see their is obviously something rotten in Denmark and has been so for a long time. Quach and Diep have a blatantly mutually beneficial thing going on. If even, the only benefit to Quach and Diep was to protect the venue for their cheap thrills. You can be sure though, that is just one benefit. Money is no doubt passing back and forth. Amanda Nguyen knows that losers Quach and Diep will blow their “profits” at the Citrist. She ends up with 2 very subservient councilman. Did not Diep prove his level of loyalty when he went to the Westminster Police at midnight. (at supposed great inconvienence) First thing he tells the police is he had to get out of bed for this. In time, Quach and Diep may very well be “proven” to be guilty of conflict of interest. It couldnt happen to two more deserving people. The court of public oppinion needs a little less “proof”. These shills ca’nt deny their is an appearance of impropriety 100%.

  11. lottahope
    August 22, 2009 at 11:36 am

    For what it is worth…their was only one reason for Van Tran to risk his political reputation by showing up at the Quach accident scene. The one where his nercedes was on fire and other dangers were present. He thought because of who he is he could subvert justice. As it turned out, he could’nt and for his mostly Viet supporters to say…oh what a nice boy, being their for his friend….what a bunch of bologna.

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