Sunday, April 10, 2016

Can Councilman Phat Bui Be Prosecuted?

The race for Orange County Supervisor's  First District  is getting heated in Little Saigon.

In his first year in office, Supervisor Andrew Do has built himself quite a strong reputation with  many pro-active programs to help the overall district; thus, it was quite a surprise to see  a challenger within the Vietnamese community to run against him, especially Garden Grove City Councilman Phat Bui.

So far, Bui has declined to comment on why he is running against Andrew Do.

Bui is a registered Republican but tends to support Democratic candidates with big donations.  He gave  Jose Solorio $2,000 for his state assembly race as well as Tom Daly, $2,100 for his.

The community is speculating whether this is a ploy by the OC Democratic Party to split the Vietnamese-American vote in order for their candidate, Santa Ana Councilmember Michele Martinez, to at least get in to the run off in November instead of losing outright in June 7 primary.

Bui was elected to Garden Grove City Council in 2014.  Immediately, he  embroiled in the controversy of rallying the  Little Saigon community to force the city of Riverside to cease its sister-city relationship with Can Tho, Vietnam.  He sent out email encouraged the anti-communist protesters to identity businesses that are doing trades with companies in Vietnam and disrupt their offices with loud demonstration in order to shame them.  He and Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen often clash openly and this has led to his ineffectiveness as a councilmember.   One of the reasons for this adversarial relationship is his strong support for the disgraced former Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater.

In the Vietnamese-American community, Bui builds his image as an educator who was a "triple major in Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineer", an engineer (as stated in his political donation statement to FPPC and his campaign mailers), CEO of a software consultant firm, and a leader of the Boy Scout's El Capitan District.

Bui mentioned in his biography  that he attended University of Minnesota - Twin Cities and was a "triple major in Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineer".   A quick fact check shows that Bui was at the University of Minnesota from 1976 to 1982, majoring in Physics.   However,  he never graduated from the school.  He left without receiving a degree.

Bui and His Negative Campaign

In his attempt to create a case to justify his running with the voters, Bui decides to go negative early against Do.   He filed a complaint against Do to the FPPC for allegedly violating the Mass Mailing Act.

It is a typical practice for elected officials to send out mailers to inform constituents about events and programs benefiting the community.  Bui complained that Do is sending mailer that featured Andrew Do's name three times.  The law, as he claimed, only allows the name to be featured once.

The blog site Voice of OC ran with the story and started questioning  whether Andrew Do and his colleagues have violated the Mass Mailing Act.

Of course, the whole story becomes a political stunt for Phat Bui and the Voice of OC.   Phat Bui  wants to make a dent into Andrew Do's reputation and Voice of OC, with their funding mostly came from Labor Unions, sensationalizes the story to help elect their preferred candidate to the supervisor'seat, Santa Ana City Councilmember Michele Martinez.

Both Bui and the Voice of OC of course can look up the rules on the FPPC Website.  The law allows three name features, one name to go along with the title and the office the mailer originated, and two other name features to accompany the mailing address.

Supervisors Andrew Do and all other supervisors follow the county protocol of submitting their mailers to county counsel.  The counsel's office then would vet the mailer with the FPPC before they allow it to be sent out.

In order to sensationalize the story further to validate their point that Supervisor Andrew Do violating the law, Voice of OC reported a leaked story about the County Auditor Controller Woolery halted payment of mailers due to possible violation of Mass Mailing Act.   That story was quickly debunked by the auditor controller himself as an internal miscommunication between him and the county counsel.  As far as he is concerned, the mailer is legal and he ordered the payment immediately.

Can Phat Bui be Prosecuted?

Claiming that Supervisor Andrew Do is "corrupted" for putting his name three times on mailers that provided information and programs to help the community,   Phat Bui is on a war path to defeat Andrew Do as part of his  "county corruption" cleanup  by using the media and whoever wants to listen to him.

In his complaint,  he submitted a list of mailers that he claimed Do had sent out in the past year.   Interestingly enough, the list contains other mailers that have not been mailed out along with their schedule.

This document is authentic and it is basically directly from Andrew Do's office.  And according to Do's office,  only three people have access to this document, his chief of staff, his communication director and the communication director's assistant.  His office is considered this document as stolen.

Now how did Phat Bui obtain  a supervisor's private document  is a mystery.  About three months ago, the communication director's assistant left abruptly and went to work the next day for another political office.

LSI is not sure if there is a law against possessing / receiving stolen document from an office of the opponent you are running against; in this case, Phat Bui possessed and made public the stolen document through his corruption complaint against Andrew Do.

With a possible investigation by the county DA, Phat Bui will likely need to provide information sooner or later about his knowledge and involvement in obtaining the stolen document.

Phat Bui also of course might be liable in a civil lawsuit for his action of possessing and distributing stolen document.

Politically, he will be prosecuted  by the public court of opinion for his ill-advised shenanigan.

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