Miguel Pulido – The Half Million Dollar Man

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido

The resilient image of Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido has become a bit tarnished over the past year as a result of Grand Jury criticism of a contract award for a multi-million dollar light-rail project, double-dipping on health insurance and car allowance benefits, alleged Brown Act violations, and improper voting on contracts benefiting campaign contributors. But the latest revelation by the LATimes has got Pulido scrambling to wash the mud off of his face.

The story, Santa Ana mayor would receive $500,000 ‘finders fee’ if sale of state buildings goes forward, was posted on Monday afternoon describes the revelations from a deposition by State Treasurer Bill Lockyer related to a lawsuit to stop the pending sale of State buildings.

The allegation about Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido came to light during a deposition three days ago, when attorneys for the opponents questioned state Treasurer Bill Lockyer… 

During questioning, Lockyer said he had received a phone call from an Orange County attorney who is a friend of his and Pulido’s. The attorney, Frank Barbaro, told Lockyer that he had been approached by Pulido; the mayor told Barbaro that he was worried about the controversy surrounding the sale of the state buildings.

According to Lockyer, Barbaro said he would ask the treasurer about the sale. Lockyer voted against the transaction, but Barbaro did not know that at the time.

Barbaro “said Miguel was concerned because he was going to receive a $500,000 finder’s fee if the transaction was consummated,” Lockyer testified, according to court documents.

Pulido defended the potential payment, arguing that it was not a “finder’s fee” but rather a “success fee” payable only if the deal goes through. His part of the transaction, he said in a telephone interview Monday, was simply to introduce several of the companies involved to each other.

But in a weird twist, that seems rather unbelievable, Pulido contacted the Times a couple hours after their initial story posted to say that he would not be receiving any compensation if the deal went through because some of the original partners had dropped out.

Funny, you would think that someone who stood to gain $500,000 from the sale of state buildings would have more of a grasp on where things were at regarding the deal when the Times initially contacted him. That development, which he apparently learned of after his interview, is a significant reversal of fortune for Pulido. It is also one which would be difficult to prove. What is also significant is the fact that we never would have known about the “deal” if it wasn’t for the lawsuit and resulting depositions.

Her is the link to the entire story.

This revelation raises a reasonable question. How many other such “deals” has Miguel Pulido’s position given him access too? How many other big city mayors in Orange County have realized such personal benefit from their positions? Current disclosure laws make it difficult if not impossible to identify any of these arrangements.

  10 comments for “Miguel Pulido – The Half Million Dollar Man

  1. December 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Making this whole thing even more disgusting – this “sale” of public buildings is also a huge ripoff for California taxpayers, which is why Lockyer and Chiang opposed it. They were outvoted by three Schwarzenegger appointees. Two of those three were brand new appointees replacing two other Arnold appointees who had opposed the deal and were fired by Arnold.

    And why did all these people oppose the deal? Because after the state sells these properties, we are obligated to lease them back from the new owners, for a total loss. It’s a quick billion-something for this year’s budget, and then a drain on taxpayers for decades after Arnold’s gone.

    I wrote about this weeks ago, and coined the term “sleasing” for the practice of selling property while committing to lease it afterwards, a stupid corrupt practice which is becoming more common.

    Nice to know Pulido has found a way to get a big chunk of this too.

  2. jose s.
    December 6, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    the really sad thing about this is that regardless of how much mud on his face the tiny dark lord has he’s still gonna be elected mayor for as long as he wants. what a sham he is.

  3. jose s.
    December 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    by the way this story made the huffington post now maybe the whole world can see what a little swine we have as our mayor.

  4. Bladerunner
    December 6, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Thank you Vern Nelson for writing about the most important point here—selling these buildings simply to turn around and lease them back is stupid and a long term drain on taxpayer funds. Lockyer and Chaing were right to vote against this loser.

    Chris, your pavlovian-pulido bashing got in the way of the bigger story—-this is a bad deal for California and people with close connections to the Governor will benefit if the current bid is approved.
    The City of Santa Ana is not awarding the bid. Pulido’s position as Mayor of Santa Ana doesn’t count for squat in these dealings. If anything, Pulido comes across as looking a little out of his league. And keep in mind that much of the opposition(and the story to the press) comes from those opposed to the sale because they have some connection to investors who did not get the bid. Find out what Willie Brown’s skin in this game. Bashing Pulido may be easier for you but the greater good would be to ensure that one crummy deal isn’t replaced by an even crummier deal.

    • December 7, 2010 at 12:19 am

      Bladerunner,

      I agree with you that the deal to sell and lease back state buildings is a stupid idea. To paint Pulido as being out of his league, is a bit of a white wash.

      You raise a very good point with your characterization though. If Miguel Pulido’s position as Mayor of Santa Ana doesn’t count for squat, why would he think someone was willing to pay him half a million dollars for introductions?

      I will give him credit though, he was cleaver enough to make lemonade out of the bad deal the California taxpayers would get out of the stupid sale/lease back scheme.

      • Bladerunner
        December 7, 2010 at 9:02 am

        He was out of his league…anyone who thinks he had such a big deal without commiting it to writing is one who turns lemonade into lemons. And having someone lobby Lockyer after Lockyer had already voted?
        People who put investors together on a deal do make money–they don’t do it for altuism. And the higher the deal the more the compensation. Miguel puts investors together so its no surprise he might have been involved. His clumsy handling of it–especially when the other side has battle tested, very smart, very tough, slick to the bone sharks on the other side like Willie Brown and Joe Cochett, is why i think he was out of his league.
        But again, my main point is while a post attacking Pulido fits into the LOC profile, your lead should have been the bad deal itself. If this deal is undone only to allow the next highest bidder to get the buildings, it only means the state will get less money. The focus on Pulido plays right into the hands of the next highest bidder. So wail away at Miguel but don’t lose focus on the big picture–sale of the buildings should be stopped.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          December 7, 2010 at 9:48 am

          If you think Pulido’s position as Mayor of Santa Ana “doesn’t count for squat” here, you are woefully naive.

  5. December 7, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Bladerunner,

    The problem here is appearance. No city property is involved in the transaction so it is clear there is no misuse of public funds or resources on the part of the mayor. Where thigs get messy is when one asks the question of what Miguel brought to the table in this deal. While there may be no illegal activity that would have resulted from the transaction, it seems to run contrary to a couple points in the city Code of Ethics.

    INTEGRITY/ HONESTY

    I safeguard the ability to make independent, objective, fair and impartial judgments by scrupulously avoiding financial and social relationships and transactions that may compromise, or give the appearance of compromising, objectivity, independence, and honesty.

    RESPONSIBILITY/PROTECTING THE PUBLIC’S INTERESTS

    I do not accept gifts, services or other special considerations because of my public position.

    This transaction seems to “give the appearance of compromising, objectivity, independence, and honesty;” and raises the question of whether Miguel’s involvement is a “special consideration” because of his public position?

    I would guess that Curt Pringle has pulled off many such deals while Mayor of Anaheim. His consulting firm does a lot of business with vendors likely to have interests that his influence might benefit. He just seems to be a lot better at keeping these things on the down-low.

  6. Al Simmons
    December 7, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I watched as mayor Miguel Pulido bailed out near the beginning of the city council meeting last night and left the mayor pro tem to run the meeting.
    That means that not only is he using his elected position to hook people up for shady deals like this, but he’s not even bothering to do the job the people have elected him to do.
    The mayor should be ashamed, and the residents of Santa Ana who elected him to work for them and not his own self interests should be outraged.

    Throw the bum out!

  7. Bladerunner
    December 7, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Allegedly, Pulido brings to the table the bringing together of investors, selling them on the viability of the plan. It’s a tough economy, credit is very difficult to secure, hence the importance of a shadchen. Being Mayor adds nothing to the deal and whatever money he thought he was going to get was not a special consideration because of his elected office….it was because of his efforts. Being a councilman and Mayor for many years increased Pulido’s capacity for meeting people, including investors, but that doesn’t create ethical or legal conflicts in and of itself. A councilmember who is a plumber may meet someone at a business opening and then six months later the person may call and want him to unclog a drain. He’s not getting the business because of his city council office but because of a meeting incidental to an event the councilmember attended.

    If you can point to any docket item that Pulido has voted on or is coming up where you can link investors in the state building deal than we can look at whether there is an appearance of compromising objectivity, independence and honesty. Right now what you have is an appearance of stupidity, possibly greed. It’s flashy because of the amount of money(the Times favorite ethical go to guy, Robert Stern, said he wouldn’t be as upset if it had been only $5,000)but I think some of your past posts on Pulido are better examples of the appearance problem. Deals like this, and the dealers involved, can raise big ethical and legal problems, I just think the legal and ethical problem here is with the deal, not with the dealers.

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