Friday, February 26, 2010

State Assemblyman Van Tran's Doubt?

The conventional wisdom within the community is that County Supervisor Chairwoman Janet Nguyen is the most important  politician as far as congressional candidates Van Tran and Quang Pham are concerned for the upcoming Republican primary.  Whoever she supports will win the majority of Vietnamese-American votes. Right now she has not decided on the matter.

With Anaheim Union High School Board Trustee Katherine Smith running, there is a strong possibility that neither Quang Pham nor Van Tran have a chance of winning in a three-person race.  Van Tran probably has done some internal polling and is this the reason why Van Tran has not filed his election paper?

Quang Pham has nothing to lose in reality.  As an ex-marine, a succesful businessman and with a non-political background,  the odds are he has more appeal to the independent voters and Vietnamese-American voters in this year of the anti-incumbent, especially with Van Tran involving in controversy after controversy.

Van Tran is a well known controversial candidate within his Vietnamese-American community. His nickname, "The Godfather", brings a connotation of a powerful politician playing above the law. His imagine of "The Godfather" is reinforced with recent articles by OC Register and OC Weekly of him abusing and manipulating the system against the taxpayer's interest.  The articles point to the fact that he is becoming more and more controversial to the mainstream voters.

Van Tran clearly has the name recognition vs. Quang Pham or Katherine Smith. However his negative is high and it shows in his inability to raise fund within his own community.  His acceptance of over $40,000 from Vietnamese businessmen who have close tie with the communist government in Vietnam has not helped his image of a strong anti-communist conservative candidate in his community.

A lot more is at stake for Van Tran than Katherine Smith and Quang Pham.  By being weak and controversial, he opens door for 2 challengers. If he lost the primary, his political career is very much over.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is Assemblyman Van Tran Electable?

Why do Congressmen Ed Royce, Dana Rohrabacher, John Campbell and GOP Deputy Whip and the NRCC’s head of candidate recruitment Kevin McCarthy and Senator John McCain support Van Tran?

“Tran has already been feted at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s March fundraising dinner as a guest of the committee’s recruitment chairman, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and he was encouraged to run by House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor. He also made a trip to Washington after last November’s election to meet with officials from the NRCC,” from Politico

Far right GOP groups have been promoting Van Tran over successful healthcare businessowner and Marine Corps combat veteran Quang Pham who actually has $36,000 more cash on hand for the primary election than Van Tran. 

Loretta Sanchez must be chomping at the bits to take on Tran.  If the many discussions on Vietnamese-American Internet groups are a good measure of voter's sentiment within the Vietnamese-American community, Quang Pham is a big worry for Loretta Sanchez, especially in a year of anti-incumbent and indenpendent voters are crucial factors. 

Nobody apparently has done their homework.  Van Tran has clearly demonstrated that he is a controversial politician and a Republican embarrassment in Orange County, Sacramento, Washington D.C., and within the Vietnamese American community, the group of voters that will be a determining factor in the primary.  

Why can't Van Tran hold a fund raiser in Orange County?  He tried and hardly any Vietnamese-Americans showed up and gave him money.  That is strange for somebody who supposedly the leader of the community, an incumbent with a powerful political machine that is often referred by the OC Register as "The Gang Of Seven".

Meanwhile, Quang Pham is gaining ground in his campaign.  The recent news in Vietnamese-American community mirror what is on the Web - Congressman Hunter wows the crowd at Quang Pham's fundraiser, 2/18/10

And this is despite the fact that in the last few months,  the controversial Van Tran has made many front page headlines......

How lawmakers turn perks into profit

WEST SACRAMENTO – After long days of representing Orange County residents at the state Capitol, Assemblyman Van Tran returns here, to a gated community where he lives with wife and kids in a 2,658-square-foot house with two fireplaces and a three-car garage. Tran's wife and two young children call this place home. His wife has declared this her principal residence for tax purposes. But this isn't Tran's "home."

Did Van Tran Steal Endorsement? 2/21/10

Inside a packed Costa Mesa hotel ballroom yesterday, Orange County's most enthusiastic conservative political activists met to hear candidate speeches and issue endorsements while paying homage to Saint Ronnie and excoriating gays, abortion rights, bureaucrats and, perhaps the most favored target of the day, employee unions.

The meeting of the local chapter of the California Republican Assembly (CRA) began with an invocation that asked God to insure that "people of good character and faith get elected," but ended three plus hours later with a whiff of scandal. A handful of members wondered aloud:  Had Van Tran, a candidate hoping to win the Republican primary quietly stolen a CRA endorsement from Quang Pham?

Why Should Republicans [Not] Support Van Tran? 2/21/10

Police say Assemblyman Van Tran disrupted DUI investigation, 8/6/09

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.

Van Tran and Taxpayer's money

State Assemblyman Van Tran is a fear politician within the Vietnamese-American in Little Saigon.  He is considered to be the "Godfather" and his "Gang of Seven" can make or break any aspiring political candidates.  His main platform within the community is that if you are not my followers, you are a pro-communist or communist.   And he means business for he has great influence over most of the major Vietnamese-American media in OC from newspapers like Nguoi Viet, Viet Bao, Viet Star and a host of radio stations.  Matter of fact, he has his own radio station that his gangs own along with Nguoi Viet newspaper empire.  In the last election when one of his gang members was behind Janet Nguyen in a supervisorial race,  Van Tran did not hesistate to send out a 2-page letter to 20,000 househoulds using his own assembly letterhead to proclaim that Janet Nguyen is a communist. 

Just like any ethnic politicians, he is known to be able to get away with many things within his community.  To mainstream, he is an anti-tax, pro-business but within his community, he promises more welfare, more medicaid, more medicare and more subsidized housing to his community.  Why, because his strongest supporters in the Vietnamese-American community are an elderly populations in the late 50s and mid 60s.

Whatever the case may be, Van Tran is not immune to the the temptation of an arrogant incumbent who knows that he can get away with abusing the taxpayer's money when they don't know or realize that they have been duped.  The OC Register wrote an interesting investigative article about Van Tran and his smart of taking advantage of the system to pocket millions of taxpayer's money in the last 6 years.

The majority of the voters sentiment in the Vietnamese-American community is very clear so far.  This is the year of getting rid of the business-as-usual politicians who has displayed lack of concerns for not only his own community but his overall constituents.