Grindle Again Reverses Stance on Sidhu Contributions

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Campaign finance watchdog Shirley Grindle has once again demanded that Anaheim City Councilman Harry Sidhu refund $1,700 in campaign cash that she says was accepted illegally.

Grindle had first called for the refund in January after Voice of OC revealed that in the 2010 supervisorial race, Sidhu received $5,100 from three businesses connected to hotelier Bill O’Connell. The county’s finance laws make it illegal for any individual — or a business controlled by that individual — to contribute more than $1,800 to a candidate’s campaign. During the 2010 supervisors race, the limit was $1,700.

Grindle had dropped her demand for the refund, however, after O’Connell said he had no control over two of the businesses. The hotelier claimed that Anaheim Park Place Inn was controlled by his son and Stovall’s Inn was controlled by the Stovall family.

But Grindle renewed her demand for the refund this week after Voice of OC provided her with a statement of economic interests filed by O’Connell with Anaheim City Hall. It was filed for 2010,  the same year as the contributions.

O’Connell, according to his disclosure forms, is a managing partner at the “Best Western Stovall Hotels.” The business is also the location of O’Connell’s office. His email address is BillOConnell@StovallsHotels.com

“It stands to reason that Stovall’s contributions and Best Western Pavilions contributions would be aggregated inasmuch as the “Managing Partner” would be the responsible individual controlling the contributions from Stovall’s Inn,” Grindle wrote in an email Wednesday to Sidhu.

There is also other information that indicates O’Connell controlled the contributions. He acknowledged to Voice of OC in January that he personally wrote the checks from the three businesses to Sidhu’s campaign. He said he had made the contributions under the different partnerships for tax purposes.

That acknowledgment was key to Grindle’s original refund demand because it showed that O’Connell was behind the contributions, she had said.

O’Connell and Sidhu did not return calls seeking comment.

The Orange County district attorney’s office opened an inquiry in February regarding the legality of the contributions. The office has yet to announce the results of the inquiry.

DA Chief of Staff Susan Schroeder could not be reached immediately for comment.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

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