In baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out…with one exception; if the catcher drops the ball on the third strike, the batter can advance to first base and must be thrown out. They usually are, but not always.
Thus is the case with Democratic Party of Orange County (DPOC) North County Vice Chair Jeff LeTourneau. Since his election to his Vice Chair’s post in January 2017, LeTourneau has committed two major offenses that brought embarrassment to himself and the party. There’s a third incident that I’m calling strike three, while others are trying to decide if he hit a foul ball or fair ball, but I’m calling it a whiff.
The first two incidents are documented on video. We wrote about neither, giving LeTourneau the benefit of a doubt and because I didn’t want to embarrass the DPOC leadership as a new central committee member. But with the last incident — which is either the best kept or worst kept secret in the DPOC — I can’t keep quiet any longer.
So here’s the set up.
In January 2017, the day after being named North County Vice Chair, LeTourneau addressed the Anaheim City Council and made a startling admission that he committed a felony by shipping medical marijuana-based products stuffed inside a teddy bear from California across state lines to a family member in “upper” New York (I think he meant “Upstate” New York) suggesting they had no access to these products there. That was a shock to my sister who works in healthcare and processes tons of information about patients who use dispensaries. In a comment on OCDaily.net, LeTourneau said his admission was an act of compassion and while I have no doubt it was, there are lots of places in “upper” New York where those products can be acquired. Easily. Here’s the video of that admission.
The Party took no action.
In June 2017, LeTourneau was captured on video berating signature gatherers for the Josh Newman recall. Now the recall is wrong eight ways to Wednesday, but LeTourneau’s language towards gay men — who are Republicans — was unacceptable. Imagine a straight man saying the exact same thing and the label “homophobic” would immediately apply. The video went viral on conservative websites and it was noted that LeTourneau was wearing his DPOC badge at the time. He tearfully apologized to the DPOC at the next meeting.
And the Party took no action.
This brings me what I call a third strike. Others may view it as a foul ball or a base hit. I first learned of this at the California Democratic Party Convention in San Diego last month and have since confirmed it through several DPOC members including members of the party’s leadership team. I’ve written LeTourneau for a statement that I promised to publish verbatim and I have not heard back.
According to a source close to the David Min for Congress campaign, LeTourneau contacted Min in early February. Other sources say this was after a DPOC resolutions committee meeting in early February from the McDonald’s across the street from party headquarters; there are conflicting reports he was there with Michael Fox, the husband of Irvine city council member Melissa Fox. The gist of the call was that LeTourneau demanded Min publicly support a political position of Fox’s and if he did so, she would endorse him for Congress. If he did not, Min’s name, according to my source, “would be dragged through the mud.”
Min didn’t take the bait.
The Foxes cast ballots at the convention for Katie Porter. Min won the endorsement. If Min’s name is being dragged through the mud, it’s by LeTourneau’s brother-in-law by marriage — Orange Juice Blogger Greg Diamond — who filed a formal challenge to Min’s party endorsement citing alleged harassment of Min volunteers against volunteers of Porter, Brian Forde and Kia Hamadanchy who successfully gathered enough signatures to force a floor vote on Sunday. In the opinion of Party chair Eric Bauman, the ayes for Min’s CDP endorsement had it and the formal Party endorsement was secured. Diamond has a long standing grudge against Bauman which dates back to Bauman chairing the DPOC meeting that led to Diamond’s removal as North County Vice Chair four years ago, so the challenge wasn’t exactly a surprise. Both LeTourneau and Diamond live in Brea, which is a long way from CD-45.
Oddly enough, LeTourneau gave one of the speeches in support of Min’s formal party endorsement on Sunday suggesting that delegates respect the will of the delegates from CD-45. This was supposed to serve as an apology of sorts for the “threat” phone call the Min campaign likely told DPOC leadership about. But the suggestion of the North County Vice Chair to respect the will of voters in CD-45 — which he does not represent in the Party — is hypocritical at best and doesn’t come close to a formal apology for political bullying. LeTourneau certainly overstepped his bounds in making the call in early February to Min which certainly didn’t respect the voters in CD-45.
Hence, the LeTourneau Line.
Admit to a felony. Be in a viral video filled with F-bombs. Threaten a congressional candidate. No consequences.
There’s also The Diamond Line which says you can insult DPOC leadership and call them liars, cheaters and weak on a blog you write for and there’s no consequences for that either. But for any member of the Democratic Party Central Committee, staying below these lines means you’re safe. No action will be taken against you. And as far as LeTourneau goes, that threat to Min should be strike 3 in just over a year.
It takes three Central Committee members to call for a vote on removing LeTourneau. It also takes two-thirds vote to remove him. I doubt the votes are there to remove him but he ought to do the right thing and resign as North Vice Chair. But I’m happy to lend my name to such a petition — even if the vote should fail.
One of the factors that led me to run for the Central Committee in the first place is the way LeTourneau bullied Irvine Unified School Board member Sharon Wallin who sought the party’s endorsement in 2014. She tried twice. LeTourneau demanded she endorse a candidate he was promoting whom Wallin didn’t know and hadn’t spoken with. Wallin is one of the longest standing elected Democrats in Orange County — a progressive with a stellar reputation and someone who walked neighborhoods for George McGovern in 1972 as a kid. She’s been in office close to 20 years. She was bullied by him and left the meeting in tears and without the party endorsement.
The perception by many Central Committee members is LeTourneau can do whatever he wants to without consequences. That has to stop and it has to stop now.