Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Controversial Van Tran

David Bauer, who is based in Sacramento, is a well-known treasurer for the campaigns of many Republican elected officials and political candidates in California.

Assemblyman Van Tran who will be termed out of the Assembly this year, currently has two active accounts: one for State Senate 2012, the other for the 47th Congressional District.  If Van Tran decided to run for the US congressional seat this year, he will face businessowner and Marine Corps veteran Quang Pham and Aneheim School Boardmember Katherine Smith for the GOP nomination. 

Within the Vietnamese-American community in Little Saigon, there are doubts whether Van Tran will run since he could not get the support of the people.  It shows in his inability to raise money despite being an incumbent and the most powerful politician within the community.   The majority of the Vietnamese-American people who gave him money are from San Jose and those who live outside of his district.  Noticeable are the owners and employees of of RAAS and California Waste Solutions.  David Duong, his brother Victor Duong and Hoang Kieu (RAAS) all have close tie with the communist government in Vietnam.  Hoang Kieu last year received private reception with President Nguyen Minh Triet and was given commendation for his business development work in Vietnam.   These two groups alone gave over $40,000 to Van Tran. 

A review of the FEC Disclosure Database ( revealed that Bauer had previoulsy signed as Tran’s federal campaign treasurer on January 21, 2010, October 14, 2009, October 6, 2009, and on July 15, 2009.

Yet it was Rorick Luepton, a State Assembly staffer according to his LinkedIn profile, who signed as Treasurer on January 31, 2010 for the Van Tran for Congress’ Federal Elections Commission (FEC) year-end filing.  is also working as political consultant and handles media relations for Tran’s campaign.
According to the FEC, “A contribution’s date of receipt is the date on which the person receiving the contribution on behalf of the committee obtains possession of it. That is the date used for recordkeeping and reporting.”   Additionally, the FEC clearly defines date of receipts as “Once the treasurer (or authorized agent) receives a contribution or other receipt, he or she must deposit it within 10 days. Contributions not deposited within 10 days must be returned to their donors.”
On January 31, 2010, Van Tran’s campaign released its 2009 FEC year-end filings. Of the $99,355 in total donation, nearly $78,955 came in on December 31, 2009, the last day of the reporting period. Tran and Pham have raised over $700,000 combined.

On January 21, 2010, Quang Pham’s campaign released its 2009 Federal Elections Commission (FEC) year-end filings in advance of the January 31, 2010 deadline. His campaign reported receipts totaling $156,440 for the period between October 1 through December 31, 2009. Cash on hand totaled $246,776 and receipts to date were $282,798.  His campaign treasurer is Gail E. Gardner of Campaign Financial Services based in Bethesda, Maryland.
Pham and Tran’s bank accounts should reflect deposits (credited for 2009) no later than January 10, 2010 to comply with the FEC. Both had high amounts of contributions on the last days of 2009. The FEC does not require campaigns to produce bank deposits unless a complaint was made concerning possible violations of federal election campaign laws. Both Pham and Tran need to show evidence that their contributions came in on time.
The buzz among the OC political watchers is why didn’t Bauer sign Tran’s latest report?  Is it typical of a candidate to have a staffer sign FEC reports?   The 64K question is did Van Tran’s campaign accept contributions after January 21, 2010 and counted them toward 2009 to make sure that he would not be trailing Quang Pham and look weak?
Meanwhile, Katherine Smith, the other Republican 47th CD candidate, has qualified for the June primary. She and Quang Pham are the only two candidates who have pulled papers and paid their fees as of last Friday.

Footnote:  State Assemblyman Van Tran received contributions from 48 individuals who gave more than the $2,400 allowable per election per the FEC. Many of them gave $4,800 each of which Tran can only use $2,400 toward the primary election.    That means Tran cannot use $114,200 of the $314,797 cash on hand that he reported on 12/31/09. Tran’s real cash on hand for the primary was $200,597.

Thus Van Tran trails Quang Pham by $36,579 in terms of cash available for the June 8 primary election. The real number is a far cry from the half million dollars raised claimed by Tran at the California Republican Assembly endorsing convention held on 2/20/10 in Costa Mesa, California.

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