Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s deputy chief of staff and executive assistant, Tam “Nick” Lecong, a controversial figure in county government, retired as of the end of last month, Nguyen’s office confirmed Wednesday.
Lecong, the third abrupt departure of a top aide from Nguyen’s staff in recent years, began working for the supervisor in 2007.
Last April, The Orange County Register reported that Lecong earned $105,420 a year while clocking in an average of 13 hours a week at his county office, far fewer than other executive assistants earning similar pay.
The Register’s analysis of Lecong’s parking garage access between February 2012 and 2013 found that on average, he showed up at the county Hall of Administration three days a week for just a few hours each day.
Nguyen defended Lecong in The Register’s article, saying “I need my staff out in the community, not sitting behind a desk.”
According to the article, other county supervisors require assistants, especially top aides, to report regularly to the county office. In Nguyen’s own office, other executive assistants clocked in office time ranging from 27 to 31 hours weekly.
Nguyen’s relationship with Lecong dates to before her tenure as supervisor. While a Garden Grove city councilwoman, she appointed him to the city’s Planning Commission.
Lecong followed two other top Nguyen aides who left her employment amid controversy. Her first chief of staff, Andrew Do, who was integral to her successful election, left his position with the county abruptly in 2010.
Then in 2011, Do ended his business partnership with Nguyen’s husband in Lee’s Sandwiches in Stanton and resigned from the Garden Grove City Council, a seat he won with Nguyen’s support.
After Do departed, another top aide, current Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper, assumed the role of deputy chief of staff before he was transferred, less than a year later, to Orange County Waste & Recycling.
Rumors about Lecong’s departure have persisted in recent weeks. Viet Star Weekly, a Vietnamese-language paper, reported in a column written by publisher Luan Chris Phan for its December 11 issue that it has been an open secret that Lecong would soon “resign or be forced out.”
Phan and other sources also report that Lecong is running a Vietnamese-language television and radio program.