Hugh Nguyen: Collecting Full County Pension & Medical To Run His Sandwich Shop

Earlier this year, the Clerk of the Board’s office instituted 8 days of mandatory furlough for all staff through the end of the year. With furloughs, the county agrees to pay the full cost of employee medical benefits and grant full hours worked credit towards retirement eligibility. Non-management staff must pay the full amount of their retirement contributions for those hours as though they were being paid. However, in the case of a manager like Hieu “Hugh” Nguyen, the county picks up that cost. All he is out is the base pay for the hours he is on furlough.

Hieu Nguyen – That’s the ticket!

In the memo from the Clerk of the Board all employees of the department were asked to consider whether they would like to volunteer to take additional furlough days to help out the overall budget situation and possibly reduse the number of mandatory furlough days for this year. To great fanfare in his department, Hugh Nguyen graciously volunteered to take an additional 24 hours off each pay period through the end of the fiscal year. He currently works 24 hours per week as a manager, but while collecting the full value of his pension and medical benefits as though he were working full time. For the record, Nguyen has arranged to work Tuesdays through Thursdays every week. Either this guy is a “fantastic” manager or the four (4) people he “manages” don’t really need a manager.

So why is Mr. Nguyen so willing to take time off without pay? Is it because he is running for Clerk-Recorder and the time off will provide him with the opportunity to campaign?

While running his campaign for Clerk-Recorder may be part of his motivation, there appears to be a bigger reason. Mr. Nguyen is sandwiching in his time between his county manager gig and running his Lee’s Sandwiches shop in Santa Ana.

Nguyen claims on his Statement of Economic Interest disclosure form that he is a consultant for OC Food Enterprises, LLC. Mr. Nguyen can be found behind the counter at his sandwich shop on Mondays and Fridays.

I have asked Mr. Nguyen to explain his relationship with OC Food Enterprises, LLC. He has refused to answer any of my questions. I cannot speculate what his answers might be, but I can show what the facts are related to Hieu Nguyen and OC Food Enterprises, LLC based upon public records.

Hieu Nguyen is the Agent for process of service for OC Food Enterprises, LLC as shown on the records of the Secretary of State. The address for this entity is Mr. Nguyen’s home address. While other parties are named in the initial Fictitious Business Name application, processed before the business was incorporated, the place of business listed is Hieu Nguyen’s home address.

Then we have the matter of the business license on file with the City of Santa Ana. OC Food Enterprises, LLC is named as the owner of the Lee’s Sandwiches shop on Bristol Street in Santa Ana, and the business phone number is Mr. Nguyen’s personal cell phone number.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have to wonder if there isn’t more to Mr. Nguyen’s relationship with this enterprise than a consulting contract. Hieu Nguyen has told some people that he owns the sandwich shop, and others that it is his uncle’s business and he is only helping out a family member. Mr. Nguyen has told so many stories about this business and his relationship to it that it is difficult to get a clear picture of what that relationship really is. Nguyen’s refusal to answer any questions only clouds the picture more.

When Hugh Nguyen announced that he still intended to seek the office once the incumbent Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly decided to seek reelection, Nguyen made a claim in a letter to his supporters that was a bit suspect to say the least.

“The spending at the Clerk-Recorder’s Office is massively over budget.  The morale of the employees is at an all time low.  Tom is not available to meet with industry leaders in the mortgage and title insurance, and has been rarely seen at his office.  Leaders at the County know that Tom is taking advantage of his elected position and not performing the department head duties that have been entrusted to him.  Over the next few weeks, more information will be coming out questioning whether Tom Daly has fulfilled his duties in a forthright and earnest manner.  The public deserves a committed professional who will work full-time as the Clerk Recorder.”

As I pointed out a couple of months ago, the Clerk-Recorder’s office was actually under budget at the time, and still is. Costs in that department have dropped over the past several years even though they have added two satellite offices without adding any additional staff positions. This is all information that is now, and was then, available to Mr. Nguyen. As a manager with the Clerk of the Board’s office, one would think that he would have the capacity to read a financial report.

I asked Mr. Nguyen to explain what he meant by massively over budget” in an email to him and his campaign consultant. I have yet to get a response to that inquiry. Absent a response I am left with only one available conclusion. Mr. Nguyen either doesn’t have an answer, can’t read a financial report, or was simply making stuff up for the benefit of promoting his candidacy.

On his campaign website Mr. Nguyen lists as his #1 Goal to Reduce Department Expenses by $500,000 over the first 12 months

The workload of the Clerk-Recorder has decreased due to the drop in the real estate transactions and downturn in the economy. The staff levels need to be reviewed and staff reductions should be considered.  In light of the reduced volume of transactions and reduced recording income, I believe a smaller management organizational structure should be implemented and I will examine the organization from top to bottom to find savings for the County and taxpayers. I will review the need of each management and administrative position to determine if it is needed and whether an alternative smaller management structure should be implemented.

What Nguyen conveniently forgets to mention is that while the Clerk-Recorder’s office has maintained a consistent staffing level of 102 staff members for the past 8 years, the overall operating expenditures budget for the Clerk-Recorder’s office have been reduced during the economic downturn by 11.54% since the 2007-08. Again, we have a county manager who simply cannot read and understand a budget.

On his campaign website Hieu Nguyen says that he has leadership, experience and integrity. As far as experience is concerned, I am not sure how much good his experience managing 4 employees in a tiny records management department in the Clerk of the Board’s office really qualifies him to supervise the Clerk-Recorder’s office of more than 100 employees.

I am not really sure that Hieu Nguyen has developed the leadership ability to manage the Office of Clerk recorder when he cannot even hang around his current job for more than 24 hours a week.

I am not really confident in the integrity of a person who cannot seen to be straight forward about his business relationship with OC Food enterprises, LLC; misrepresents his position title of Assistant Clerk of the Board as some major responsibility when he only supervises 4 employees on a virtually part-time basis, and cannot even honestly comment on the budget performance of the current Clerk-Recorder.

Hieu Nguyen said; “The public deserves a committed professional who will work full-time as the Clerk Recorder.”

All I see here is a senior manager in the Clerk of the Board’s office, collecting his taxpayer funded full-time pension and medical benefits while working part time. I see a guy focused more on taking advantage of the budget shortfalls in his department to his personal financial gain so he can run his own business and campaign for an elected position, than someone focused on doing right by the taxpayers.

I see a guy, who is willing to mislead the public about his business interests, his name, as well as his job title in order to pump up phony credentials for his ballot designation. I see a guy who will lie about the budget performance of his opponent for political gain.

I am left wondering if Hieu Nguyen is elected, will the public get a committed professional who will work full-time as the Clerk Recorder or, will Hieu Nguyen continue to sandwich his time between his responsibilities to the public and his sandwich shop.

  12 comments for “Hugh Nguyen: Collecting Full County Pension & Medical To Run His Sandwich Shop

  1. May 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

    This is bullshit. Why should he answer your questions? You are not a reporter.

    For the record, Hugh’s uncle owns the shop. What Hugh does on his free time is his business.

    Daly is known to do NOTHING. Just ask his workers. He is always out to lunch.

    As for you Prevatt, you have been busted twice now blogging at work. You’re a fine one to talk about conflicts!

    • May 17, 2010 at 9:11 am


      Nice of you to come over here and peddle your B.S. Shouldn’t you be looking for a job, or maybe a lawyer instead of blogging for Hugh?

      Anyway, Hugh was asked to explain why he stated the Clerk-Recorder’s office was massively over budget when that was not the case. He refused.

      Hugh Nguyen was asked to explain his relationship with what you claim to be his uncles business. Based upon the records available, Hugh his not doing anything on his free time (Form 700 Disclosure) and the records for this business illustrate a much deeper relationship between Hugh and the business.

      It is fine for Hugh to refuse to answer questions, but then all we have left to go by is the official record.

      And if you have any evidence that shows that i have been “busted for blogging at work” feel free to reveal it. I have been twice falsely accused of blogging at work. Most recently it was by your boy Sean H. Mill. Sorry to dissapoint you, there was nothing to bust me for.

      • keepdapeace
        May 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm

        Don’t worry Chris. Lots of us have been falsely accused of blogging at work. It appears to be a problem of the county’s contracted data systems departments as they have a hard time figuring out who is doing what.

        As for Art, well spoken, just like a true Rep. Don’t bother me with the facts, as long as I have money I can run for office……

    • CR employee
      May 17, 2010 at 10:44 pm

      Mr. Pedroza please don’t accuse Tom Daly of not doing anything when Hieu himself didn’t do much when he was at the Clerk-Recorder’s office. All he did was sit in his office. The supervisor’s under him did all the work, i should know. He couldn’t even respond to an email or write a decent memo, it was all us.

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    May 17, 2010 at 9:34 am

    while you’re at it Art, I haven’t been sent any cease and desist letter by Sean’s employer. I sent a note to his employer asking about it, and no one has an idea of what you’re talking about.

    But it’s clear to us now why you demanded so much money for the domain names you acquired? You needed it to pay your credit card bills or your mortgage.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    May 17, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    So Art, apply your same standard to your Q&A that Sean did on Hugh Nguyen and Tom Daly. Sean isn’t a reporter, so why should Daly reply? Perhaps Daly doesn’t want to be associated with a blog who’s publisher got caught linking to gay porn sites and NAMBLA? Or perhaps it’s because you’re about to have your house foreclosed upon and sold out from under you. Or maybe it’s because you’re being sued for credit card fraud.

    Face it Art. Your days of having any political influence in Orange County are over. Where are you friends now? Has Tony Bushala or Sean Mill or Vern Nelson or your pals on the SA City Council kicked in any money to help you out of the jam you’re in? Put some more energy into your business instead of the blog. And when you want to point a finger of blame for your situation, all you have to do is look in a mirror.

    Don’t forget, discovery documents are due on May 26; the same day your house gets sold in auction.

    • May 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

      Hey Art, if you’re checking in; we have a copy of the lawsuit American Express filed against you. So that’s two credit card companies going after you for being a deadbeat for thousands of dollars. No wonder you put such a high price on those domain names.

  4. Cynthia Ward
    May 17, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I also wondered about how Hugh is able to do all this and still run a sandwich shop in his spare time. Waiting on a public records request, stay tuned for what more on Hugh does at work.

    • keepdapeace
      May 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm

      Well, managing his four employees in a do nothing department of the agency isn’t difficult…..oh, uh, did you mean running the sandwich shop?????

      • Cynthia Ward
        May 18, 2010 at 4:18 am

        Can one run a sandwich shop and campaign for public office while on the County payroll? How does one multi-task to that level without doing any of it on company time? Inquiring minds want to know…

  5. Mr brown
    May 18, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Steven Greenhunt is that you?

    Is this not a benefit negotiated by Heiu Nguyen representive union?

    Are you bashing this union negotiated benefit?

    I guess it is becoming very fashionable to bash negoitated union bnefits

    Shame shame shame

  6. Terry Fairfield
    June 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Wow! You guys need to get a grip! And we wonder why our government is so messed up! You need a sandbox to fight in. What a bunch of ridiculous banter. I was on this site to try to do my homework before voting, but since you guys are just into bashing each other, it has not helped me out in the least.
    Thanks for contributing to what is wrong with America.
    You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Hope you can sleep at night.

Comments are closed.