Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | In yet another twist in the Republican Party's infighting over the Irvine City Council election, Councilwoman Christina Shea on Monday fired council candidate Jeff Lalloway from his post on the city's Finance Commission.
Shea, who appointed Lalloway to the commission and at first endorsed him in his bid to capture one of two open City Council seats, said she is now supporting Republican candidate Lynn Schott.
The firing is yet another example of how the local Republican Party is becoming increasingly difficult for its leadership to control. The Orange County Republican Central Committee only recently endorsed Schott after committee members went public with, among other things, their frustrations regarding the committee's failure to endorse her in September.
Shea said Lalloway's firing was the "culmination of many instances that made it clear to me that I could not trust him anymore."
Shea said Lalloway has distanced himself from Schott and Republican mayoral candidate Christopher Gonzales, something she said undermined the Republicans' chances of winning a council majority on Election Day.
"It's become all about Jeff Lalloway, and that is not what this is about," Shea said.
Shea said the last straw came when Lalloway sent a mailer to city residents calling himself the only Republican Party-endorsed candidate on the ballot, even though Schott has now been officially endorsed.
Lalloway, who said he did not know of the firing until a reporter told him about it, said his mailer was composed before the party's endorsement of Schott.
"Everything was mailed before Lynn Schott was endorsed, and I made sure of that myself," Lalloway said. "For her to be upset about them, she needs to take her anger out somewhere else."
Lalloway went on to say that Shea really fired him because he has "tried to blow the lid off her support" of public employee unions.
Lalloway's mailer hit city mailboxes Monday. Shea and GOP central committee member Allan Bartlett allege that it was sent to residents late last week, well after Schott's endorsement a week earlier. Bartlett called the mailer a "stab in the back" by the party.
Shea cited her reasons for firing Lalloway in an email to City Manager Sean Joyce and other council members. In addition to her anger over the mailer, Shea said Lalloway has been absent from "many" finance commission meetings.
Lalloway said he has missed the last two commission meetings because of election-related events.
In an interview Monday, Shea also cited a recent slate mailer paid for at least in part by members of the Lincoln Club of Orange County. Lalloway is a member of that group.
The mailer depicts Democratic council members Larry Agran and Beth Krom and council candidate Shiva Farivar as puppets of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but it does not include Mayor Sukhee Kang, the other member of the Democratic majority.
"They just gave Sukhee a pass," Shea said.
Lalloway said the firing is actually rooted in what he said was Shea's relationship with public employee unions.
"Christina Shea is apparently angry that I've tried to blow the lid off her support of the public sector unions in Irvine," Lalloway said. "She received money from them in previous elections and has supported them in contract negotiations, as evidenced by her vote last year with regard to a union contract to give them increased pension benefits and salary."
County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh said that the party reconciliation in Irvine was "still on" and that the mailer represented an "awkward, challenging problem" because it had been printed and scheduled to be sent before Schott was endorsed.
"The bottom line is when there's a conflict, you don't expect everything to go away [immediately]," Baugh said. "The question is: Do you punish a candidate who played by the rules and force him to destroy a mailer" that is already scheduled to go out?
Baugh said he had a conversation with Schott on Monday, and the two had found a remedy to the mailer, though he wouldn't elaborate on the details.
However, Bartlett, who said he was party to the conversation, did elaborate. He said the agreement involved another mailer to residents' mailboxes with three candidates -- Schott, Lalloway and Gonzales -- listed as Republican Party-endorsed. The party would be paying the majority of the cost of the mailers, Bartlett said.
"There's no perfect solution," Baugh said. "There are only good-faith solutions."