The following is a press release sent to Lane Media.
Today Bonnie Garcia filed a complaint with The Attorney General, (AG) and The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) calling for an investigation of Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone for practices that closely mirror the behavior of three Senators arrested for public corruption.
Garcia has been a resident of Riverside County for more than 25 years and is a former State Assemblywoman. She learned about many of his schemes from community leaders, elected officials and developers fearful of coming forward.
Stone is a well-known political bully who appears to be using his position as Chairman of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to punish critics, reward allies, manipulate governmental decisions and pursue his political ambitions through a votes-for-cash scheme.
Recent campaign reports coupled with the release of a Riverside Grand Jury report found multiple instances where cash flowed into his campaign coffers days after he sponsored or voted on controversial projects. His sister, a business partner with him in at least 10 companies also benefitted by his largess. Public records show he appointed her to County boards, and then voted on and directed hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to programs under her control. In a blatant disregard of state law prohibiting the use of Government offices or cars for campaign purposes, he appointed her as a “volunteer” staffer and granted her use of a county car and unfettered access to his office. There she ran the headquarters of a non-profit that Stone directed more than $500,000 in taxpayer funds to and she collected a six-figure income as CEO.
It was later learned Stone rewarded his business partner and “volunteer sister” for her efforts by paying her $330,00 from campaign funds, including an election year bonus of $130,000.
Source: San Diego Tribune
There is no doubt charities that received funds helped the community, however no other County Supervisor steered dollars to family members or used their official offices to operate charitable organizations.
Source: Riverside County Grand Jury
Jeff Stone’s illegal behavior made him the poster child for a state law authored by Senator Joel Anderson prohibiting the use of taxpayer funded resources for political purposes.
Source: AB 1399 (Anderson)
Stone’s self enrichment schemes and the favored treatment of developers have not gone unnoticed by residents. At a recent Temecula City Council meeting, a community leader alleged Stone may have improperly made $189,000 profit from a nearly vacant commercial building he bought and sold. The purchase and sale were arranged by one of his major campaign donors, RANCON. Remarkably during the worst of the economic recession, when 1 in 20 families in the Inland Empire were losing their homes and the building industry collapsed, RANCON helped Stone flip the property while still in escrow.
Source: Temecula City Council Meeting Video
As Chairman of the Board, Supervisor Stone sits on other regional boards and has great sway over major decisions while signing contracts on behalf of the entire board. In that capacity, Stone “fast tracked” projects for favored donors in what appears to be a clear example of “votes-for-cash”, where large campaign checks were deposited in accounts benefitting Stone by the parties with lucrative projects before the board. In a recent instance, Stone pushed a controversial development project for one of his major campaign donors in spite of strong opposition from the surrounding community.
Since January 2014, the Board renewed several multi-million dollars contracts to vendors without seeking alternative contractors through a competitive bid process. In almost every instance, within days of casting his vote, Supervisor Stone started depositing checks from those vendors into his account.
Stone’s Legal History
In 2011, Stone paid a $16,000 fine to the FPPC after he failed to report $84,052 in contributions to his 2010 campaign for State Senate.
In December 2010, a secret 14-count indictment was brought against a major Stone contributor who had given more than $66,400 in illegal contributions to Stone’s 2010 Senate campaign and one other legislative candidate.
Source: Press Enterprise
In June 2010, Taxpayer Advocate President Scott Barnett filed two formal complaints against Jeff Stone with the FPPC accusing him of as many as 40 violations of the state’s campaign finance law, including sponsoring and voting to donate funds to an organization that was his tenant in a property that he owns.
He was fined $2,000 by the FPPC for destroying campaign finance records from a State Assembly race in 2000. Stone was found to have destroyed a $40,000 cashier’s check, which made it impossible to audit the finances of his previous Assembly campaign.
In 1999, the California Attorney General filed 20 charges against Jeff Stone on behalf of the California Board of Pharmacy. Stone ultimately reached a settlement and pleaded guilty to five of the twenty charges and was required to pay $10,000, having his pharmacy license placed on probation for three years. In the accusations filed by the Attorney General is a detailed overview of an inspection of Stone’s pharmacy. During one of those inspections, Stone is caught lying about a conversation he had with a Riverside DEA agent.
Garcia said, “Jeff Stone is no different than the three Senators arrested for corruption. The evidence speaks for itself, as does his long conviction record. Buried deep into the millions of dollars that he’s directed to charities over the years, he picked the pockets of taxpayers to hand out sweetheart deals and prop up his campaigns.”
SCHEME 1 – Stone pushes project in what appears to be Votes-for-Cash
Regent Properties, LLC and RANCON Real Estate
Supervisor Stone sponsored “fast tracking” of a General Plan Amendment vehemently opposed by local residents that sought a change in zoned use. The process by-passed the Planning Commission and allowed the developer to make a fortune by increasing the commercial portion and squeezing more residential units into a smaller parcel.
October 16, 2013
$4,100 to Jeff Stone for State Senate from Developer REGENT PROPERTIES, LLC
Source: Election Track
November 2, 2013 – One day prior to the Board of Supervisors taking action
$4,100 to Jeff Stone from the Civil Engineers on the project, Albert A. Webb Associates Civil Engineers
$10,200 to Jeff Stone for State Senate from Project Partner, RANCON and affiliated companies owned by Dan Stephenson. This amount exceeds California campaign limits.
Source: Wysk Company Profile
November 3, 2013
Supervisor Jeff Stone and the County Planning Department schedule a project for hearing before the Board of Supervisors on December 10, 2013.
December 10, 2013
Jeff Stone takes the lead by advocating for rapid approval and the Board approves.
Riverside County Planning Department: GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT NO 1110 CHANGE OF ZONE NO 7767 SPECIFIC PLAN NO 288 AMENDMENT NO 2 FAST TRACK 2011 13
Source: Riverside Planning Department
April 22, 2014
$10,000 contribution from Regent Properties to Taxpayers Opposing Bonnie Garcia.
Source: Election Track
The County contract for Indigent Defense Services is valued at $40 million.
The Law offices of Barbara M Brand, Juvenile Defense Panel (JDP), Virginia Blumenthal and Crime Defense Lawyers provided the services.
The County sought to negotiate reduced fees for services and threatened vendors that if no agreement could be reached, their combined $40 million contracts would be put out to bid. Supervisor Jeff Stone took an aggressive stance in negotiations and as Chairman is authorized to sign the contracts.
February 25, 2014
The Board of Supervisors approved a rate change and the project does not go out to bid for new contractors. A five (5) year extension to existing contractors is approved.
March 1, 2014 – The contract extension to be signed by Chairman of Board (Stone)
March 17, 2014
$2,000 to Jeff Stone for Senate from Virginia M. Blumenthal made with two contributions, each in the amount of $1,000. Their contract with the County is valued at $3,145,000.
$1,000 contribution from Criminal Defense Lawyers
Source: Riverside County Board Minutes
March 31, 2014
$1,500 contribution from Criminal Defense Lawyers. Their contract with the County is valued at $2,127,499.
Source: Election Track
Haider Spine Center – contract with the County of Riverside expires May 31, 2014
Source: Riverside County Board Record
February 27, 2014
$8,200 Contribution from Haider Spine sent via two checks, each in the amount of $4,100
Civil Engineers based in Riverside, California, Albert A. Webb Associates, work on numerous projects within the County.
They made a $4,100 maximum contribution on November 2, 2013 regarding the RANCON/REGENT project previously discussed.
An additional $1,000 was sent on March 7, 2014. Both contributions were made within days of the projects being approved.
March 10, 2014 – Riverside County Board of Supervisors Board
Meeting Agenda item: 15-1 TRANSPORTATION & LAND MANAGEMENT AGENCY/PLANNING: GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT NO. 1127, (ENTITLEMENT/POLICY AMENDMENT) – Christopher Development Group, Inc./Albert A. Webb Associates
Total contributions: $5,100
Source: Election Track
Bonnie Garcia closed by stating, “Jeff Stone’s bullying tactics and personal attacks won’t silence me. I detest public corruption and won’t rest until Riverside County taxpayers get justice to drain the swamp of unethical and self serving elected officials like Jeff Stone.”