Is This Termed-Out County Supervisor Angling for Another Term?

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In June 2014, Shawn Nelson coasted to victory in the primary election, winning his second – and presumably final – term as an Orange County supervisor.

Presumably final because Nelson is blocked by term limits from running again for supervisor in 2018, and because he’s said publicly that he plans to run for judge at the end of his current term.

But then a curious thing happened.

In January, he officially re-named his political fundraising committee to “Shawn Nelson for Supervisor 2018.” And he’s been raising tens of thousands of dollars into it since then, under the new name.

That includes $43,000 from donors in June and likely thousands more at a well-attended fundraiser last week, on top of $94,000 in leftover money from last year’s election.

Does this mean Nelson wants to extend supervisors’ term limits?

In 2012, he voted as supervisor to put such a measure before voters, but the effort failed 3-2. But none of the other supervisors at the time are still serving on the board, and Nelson would need support from just two of his newer colleagues in order to place it on the ballot.

Or is it because he wants to run for another office – such as judge – and wants to maximize his ability to fundraise from people who do business with the county?

The invitation to last week’s fundraiser prominently featured a logo for “Shawn Nelson – Orange County Supervisor” at the top. And several of his donors so far this year are contractors and others who have business before him as supervisor.

As for Nelson’s plans to run for judge, he hasn’t issued any formal public announcements. But he did acknowledge his judicial aspirations earlier this year when being interviewed about a different subject by Voice of OC.

There are also questions as to whether it’s legal for Nelson to fundraise for an office he can’t currently run for.

Nelson didn’t return messages seeking comment for this story. A reporter did reach his treasurer, Jen Slater, but she declined to comment.

Regardless of the supervisor’s motives, the committee, as currently named, could conflict with state campaign finance law.

“If there is no intent to run for re-election in 2018, a candidate must change the committee name back to 2014,” said Jay Wierenga, a spokesman for the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

“The law requires that you have the candidate’s last name, office sought and year of election in the name,” he added, noting the relevant law on this.

In Nelson’s case, the official election year appears to technically still be 2014, because Nelson never re-designated his committee for the 2018 election cycle.

To do so would have required that Nelson submit a separate statement under penalty of perjury that he intends to run for the 2018 term, which could create its own problems due to the term limits.

Instead, Nelson and his treasurer re-named the committee for 2018, without officially changing the election cycle from 2014.

They’re planning on naming the committee back to 2014, according to local political watchdog Shirley Grindle, who sent Nelson an email late last week raising concerns about the committee name.

In a conversation with Grindle, Slater said she was seeking advice from the FPPC on the issue and preparing a letter explaining the whole situation, according to Grindle.

“If they had refused to request advice form the FPPC, I would have filed a complaint,” Grindle said. “That way, I can force the issue to be resolved. But they have agreed to request advice on this.”

Neither of the two agencies where the updated committee name would be filed – the California Secretary of State and county Registrar of Voters – had records of it as of Tuesday afternoon, spokespeople said. But it could be on its way in the mail.

Many of Nelson’s donors in June were people who do business with the county and have given to Nelson before, such as county parking contractor PCI, Irvine Co. lobbyist Michael Recupero, and real estate developer – and aspiring OC Register co-owner – Mike Harrah.

The June fundraiser was held at Harrah’s downtown Santa Ana restaurant, Original Mike’s, with Harrah chipping in $1,300-worth of “venue & catering costs.”

Nelson also held a fundraiser last Thursday at Zov’s Bistro in Tustin, a favorite hangout spot for local politicos.

An invitation to the event, seeking contributions of up to $1,900, asked that checks be made payable to “Shawn Nelson for Supervisor 2018.” The fundraiser was attended more than 30 people, including Nelson and his chief of staff, Denis Bilodeau.

Grindle says that given all this fundraising and the nearly $100,000 Nelson had in the bank after the last election, his treasurer’s claim that the account is only for officeholder expenses doesn’t add up. She’s suspicious Nelson is using it to build up a war chest to campaign for a different office.

“Why is he raising this amount of money?” Grindle asked. “He already has a lot in the bank. And is he planning on using this solely for officeholder expenses or is he planning on transferring it to another committee to run for office?”

You can contact Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

  • Paul Lucas

    Im under the impression that the leftover funds for one officer can be used to campaign for another office. So I don’t see anything illegal although maybe misleading.

  • Diego Vega

    As an attorney Nelson is just a slimy ambulance chaser. But as a Supervisor he is a demigod who millionaires throw bribes at. Plus, he’s already getting a taxpayer funded pension of $80,000 for the rest of his life. Four more years (or more?) Will only increase his pension.

    Nelson and John Moorlach always complain how much money they are losing while they “serve” the public. But you don’t see either of them returning to their prior high paying jobs. Hmmmmm…

    • Paul Lucas

      How can a guy get that kind of pension after two terms in office? I think you need to fact check that In fact please do because of that’s the case I’m calling BS Shenanigans and something needs to be done about that nonsense.

      • Diego Vega

        My mistake. According to a Liberal OC search, Nelson will receive a $64,000 annual pension for life after just terms in office. Sweet gig.

  • Jacki Livingston

    Earlier this year, I contacted my own congressman, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) to ask for his help regarding embezzlement, fraud, harassment and abuse of patients in nursing homes in OC. These operators of the homes were stealing large sums of money from patients, as well as taxpayers, and I had proof. Additionally, money was being kicked back to higher ups in the agency, and political candidates, including Janet Nguyen, no doubt for their help in gerryrigging the CalWin system and annual audit reviews to continue this criminal activity. I had spent six years trying to get someone within the county to do something…anything…to put a stop to it, including the District Attorney’s office, who scoffed because why would they care what a bunch of “beanbags” had going on, since they could not vote. I went to Calvert in tears, because he was my congressman. Calvert’s chief of staff said that Shawn Nelson was not only a friend, but an honest and decent man who would at least look into the problem and get some answers. Weeks passed, and then Nelson’s Chief of Staff, Dave Wiggens called and emailed me. He said that Nelson was terribly concerned about this horrific situation and that he would want to see all of the documentation. A few weeks later, I was being forced out, using the rigged Worker’s Compensation office in Anaheim, with Todd Spitzer’s wife and close friend/client. At no time did Nelson ask to see the documents, the emails, the transcripts from the trials involving this sleazy nursing home company…nothing. I tried to call Mr. Wiggens, again, and he never called back. This begs the question, was Nelson, like Nguyen and others, getting the same financial kickbacks? Or did he owe someone a favor? Either way, it shows clearly that Nelson, like Spitzer, Moorlach and all of the others, is a rotten, crooked and corrupt politician, who sends his lackey over to shut people up. He should not be a judge, or a candidate for anything but a jail cell. Isn’t it funny that many contributors to his campaign are people involved with this dangerous nursing home company? Not funny haha, but funny pathetic. Nelson is on the take, so of course he wants to stay. He gets more in kickbacks than he could as a lawyer, and he is too crooked to survive as a judge.

  • Greg Diamond

    You have to name it something. That name doesn’t necessarily mean much at this point. I expect that he will run for Judge. (Or maybe DA?)

    • David Zenger

      It’s called “BOE.” Everybody else uses it.

    • Jacki Livingston

      Good Lord, I hope not. Has anyone seen how he acts at BoS meetings? He rolls his eyes, gets his panties in a bunch at every person who dares to defy him. Nelson would be a horrible judge.

  • David Zenger

    This is the guy who loves to say “I was dumb enough to run for this job.”

    And then he keeps on doing it.

    • Jacki Livingston

      LOL, sir…well played.

    • Kathleen Tahilramani

      Dumb like a fox. He keeps getting over on the taxpayers with no consequences. I’ll bet the County of Orange will be thrilled to have Nelson as a Judge, better for him to do their dirty work. Can you imagine a employee lawsuit against the County going before Nelson? Or for that matter many ( not all) of the sitting judges? Maybe not so dumb after all since the joke is on us.

      • Jacki Livingston

        They already own two judges at the Worker’s Comp Court. Jamie Spitzer is Toddy’s wife, and then there is Louise Armstrong, who was a client and close friend of Todd’s when she was assaulted and nearly killed by an attacker. She and Spitzer spent years pushing legislation through at the state level. I had the misfortune of my case appearing before both women, at one point or another, and the County got off with a sweet deal that they have never held up their end of. If Nelson became a judge, it would give them a real edge in their corruption scams. No employee or taxpayer of the County would ever get an honest or fair shake.

        • Kathleen Tahilramani

          They don’t get one now as we both know – it will be more of the same….even worse.

          • Jacki Livingston

            Yes. In my case, the County has broken every agreement in the settlement. I can’t even get the WCAB office in Anaheim to return my calls. Jamie Spitzer has that office dancing to her hubby’s tune. Crooked…the whole bunch.

          • Jacki Livingston

            Now, look at San Bernardino County. People are going to blame his Muslim faith. This wasn’t religion, this was a County employee pushed one inch too far, and he finally lost it. This is a tragedy that never should have happened. These higher ups never, ever, ever learn. You want to know how many of my coworkers said that they had fantasies about doing the same thing to our bosses? To the BoS? People laugh and joke, but then one person at a Christmas party says or does one thing, and you can set off a reaction. This is what the higher ups at OC do not understand about their high handed and corrupt conduct. This is being called isolated. It isn’t. Far too many employees in similar situations have felt that rage, and the peons being stepped on will eventually turn on them. I have been expecting the same thing for years at SSA. I won’t be surprised when it does happen, because these people never learn two important lessons. Number one? Guns are easy to get. Number two? There are more of us than there are of them. This may have happened an hour away, but I hope they felt it on the fifth floor. Otherwise, they better get ready for it.

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            With all my heart I pray that this never happens in Orange County – anywhere. It would be devastating if this were to happen to any County of Orange employee no matter what position or rank. Horrific if an employee were to believe that violence was an option and horrific for the victims of such misguided belief. The only way to mitigate against this possibility is to treat people with respect and fairness. Sometimes there is no predicting or understanding such rage, but setting a stage of equity will certainly be a start.

          • Jacki Livingston

            I agree. It is incredibly horrific that anyone would solve their problems with violence. But by the same token, the County powers that be need to hear people, and give the respect that every human deserves. It takes so little, and it would prevent so much unnecessary tragedy.

          • Jacki Livingston

            Oh, and by the way, Kathleen, apparently someone at the County got their knickers in a twist over what I said, because they sent two very serious and large Sheriff’s investigators over to my home, today, to question me about my First Amendment protected comment. They took it as some kind of threat. Really? They sent two investigators in separate vehicles to my home, to question me, but they couldn’t bother to talk to me when I was trying to show them that county employees were helping a nursing home steal patient trust accounts from comatose patients? For six years I begged the Sheriff, BoS, DA and anyone who would listen to take the evidence and listen. But I make a comment on a web site, where they do investigative reporting, and two very nice, but very serious, deputies come to my home to question me? Hey, Norberto, you better warn your readers not to get too passionate about anything you write…I think Todd is kind of sensitive. Funny how none of them were there for my clients, or for me when I was being threatened and assaulted. Niiiiiiice. Oh, Todd? I am not intimidated by you. Epic fail, dude…epic fail.

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            There is such sensitivity and fear due to regional and world violence that the tendancy to err on the side of caution must be understood. We will all see this diligence more frequently due to the fact that daily living that we all once took for granted now feels unpredictable and out of control. I think that the County of Orange, all government entities and business will react to things that in the past would have been viewed as someone expressing their view or opinon. We will all have to be patient with this and try to avoid taking it personally. Yes, we have free speech, but if it scares someone we have to anticipate that reaction and be ready to explain our intention. One thing that is becoming clear is that violence and terror can be committed by people who for all outward appearances look and act “normal”. Thus, the feeling of no control.

          • Jacki Livingston

            While I can understand that, and would perhaps even applaud a sense of heightened concern, let’s take a glance at the flip side. Someone, most likely Spitzer, used the Sheriff’s Department as his personal mafia, sending two…not one, two…deputies in plain clothes…actually in sweat shorts and t shirts, to my home. They question me, not only about one comment, but several, and they question me about topics completely unrelated, asking me if I was selling my home, and if I move, where I intended to move to. The message was clear, stop talking about Spitzer and their crimes. They were not in uniform, they were not clear in the intent, other than to say that someone felt threatened, not just by one comment, but by several. This means that they don’t like me talking about them. They were sent to intimidate me, into silencing my First Amendment right. I am a disabled woman, I couldn’t lift a gun to save my life. I don’t own a gun. They didn’t ask me about that stuff. They asked me questions that made it clear I was being watched and followed. They didn’t come during work hours, in a professional capacity, they came in workout clothes with their tattoos showing. To add insult to intimidating injury, where were the sheriffs when my clients were being stolen from and killed? Where were they when I was being harassed and assaulted in the workplace. The mere fact that Todd Spitzer can use the Sheriff’s Department as his personal guidos, to silence the same women that he got his wife and former client to totally roll over in court, is not just appalling, but downright scary. He can draw his gun, use deputies to silence critics and intimidate those that he violated the law and professional ethics to cheat, but…hey…it’s all understandable, because Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press are nothing, really, because when our government is scared, those rights can go out the window, and we will take it? I don’t THINK SO. He achieved the opposite, and tomorrow I am filing charges with the California Bar Association. I don’t scare easily, Todd.

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            The problem is there is no way to prove who felt uncomfortable with a comment made. So, it is a guess who it may have been. OCSD will not disclose this information. And, this will not be the first nor the last time someone gets a visit to assess potential intent. I can understand that you may feel frustration and that the situation might feel unfair – but I would chalk it up to experience and enjoy life. Unless you have absolute proof your frustration will probably increase as the State Bar will require a high standard of evidence. And, the perception of concern or fear is very subjective.

          • Jacki Livingston

            Well, one thing is sure, if you are going to use the sheriffs for your personal intimidation team, they probably shouldn’t hand out their business cards. I suppose that what you suggest would be the measured response. However, I don’t work for the County, and I don’t do intimidation. It’s against my religion.

          • Jacki Livingston

            The State Bar is going to hear about Spitzer, his wife and his client, and their use of the worker’s compensation appeals courts for his oppression and subversion of legitimate claims by county employees. THAT, I have already proven. Add into that Spitzer’s relationships with those involved in the abuse, embezzlement, fraud and homicide of patients in nursing homes? The rest will be very easy to prove. Todd Spitzer is as dirty and corrupt as they come. I intend to prove that.

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            In my humble view, I would not accuse someone of homicide on a public site comments. I think it’s fine to go to the proper officials and make your case and let them take whatever action they deem proper – and by proper I mean after their due consideration of the political slippery slope involved. Before anyone goes public with claims of homicide, elder abuse, embezzlement and fraud against ANYBODY ….best to have an attorney by your side to make sure you don’t get yourself in hot water by making such statements. I’m not a fan of Ready,Fire, Aim scared of flatware Spitzer – but you need to protect yourself. Remember, he is an Attorney with access to County Counsel who will spare no effort to turn your comments sideways against you if at all possible. You gotta chill and keep your own counsel.

          • Jacki Livingston

            I spent six years as the brunt of their abuse. I never accused Todd of murder. I said that he pals around with people who are involved, and that he ignores blatant wrongdoing in the agency. I have proof of all of those things by the nursing homes, and it was proven in a court of law. I am not an idiot, Kathleen. This is all proven in a court of law. The fact that no one is talking about it is because the agency has been covering it up for years, because money is involved. That is not an accusation. That is a proven FACT. The nursing home company had to pay out, in the settlement, but they got off cheap and kept right on doing their dirty business, with the cooperation of the County. Multiple doctors have been convicted, in federal court, while T-Rack ignored the evidence laid at his feet. These are not accusations. The LA Times reported it, others report it, but the County Board of Supervisors has done absolutely NOTHING to stop it, and they could. The fact that the lawyers for the nursing homes are major contributors to Nelson, Spitzer, Bates and Nguyen is merely a coincidence…right? No one ever talks about the million dollar slush fund that Nguyen had when she was on the CalOptima board, do they? But some random people are prosecuted for laundering money through fake donations to her campaign, and no one puts two and two together? Oh…I dearly hope they do come at me. I would pay good money to put these people on the stand under oath. I can prove my case, but I don’t have to. It has already been done in the California court, when this sleazy nursing home company admitted to their gross negligence and fraud. Do I look worried? I’m not. The only question unanswered is why the top law enforcement officer of the county, the Sheriff of the County and the Board of Supervisors of the county refused to even hear the evidence of what was happening, even after the multiple convictions and the court case decision? I’ll tell you why…comatose and paralyzed people, people on life support? They don’t vote. It is already court proven, the neglect, the deaths, the fraud, the misrepresentation, the multiple violations of regulations. These are not wild accusations. This is proven fact. What is also proven fact is that these public entities are doing nothing to stop it from happening again. They have never addressed it, and they never will. People are DYING, but Spitzer is worried about silverware and social media. Oh…and wolf dogs. What a humanitarian and public servant he turned out to be.

  • Bob Brock

    What Nelson is doing is called fraud. He’s promoting himself as a candidate for Supervisor in 2018 when the law prohibits him from running for that office. Donors writing checks for “Nelson for Supervisor 2018” would naturally think they are supporting him for re-election for four more years. I hope the FPPC requires Nelson to return all money raised under that account to the donors. They should slap him with a fine too… this wasn’t an innocent mistake… this was an attempt to dupe donors and collect additional dollars from those who maxed out to his 2014 account.

    • LFOldTimer

      You don’t think Nelson researched this? He’s a lawyer for God sakes and undoubtedly knows how far he can push the envelope. I’m not saying that you don’t have a good argument. At first glance the gist of your comment appears to make good sense although I wouldn’t go as far as to claim that Nelson committed fraud without solid evidence. Don’t forget who makes the campaign finance laws – the incumbent campaigners. Campaign finance laws are notorious for loopholes. FPPC? ha.

      • Jacki Livingston

        He isn’t a very good lawyer…to be fair.

  • LFOldTimer

    Boy, once they’re in and start to feel comfortable they don’t want to leave. They had to push Moorlach out of the nest too. But his departure ended up being a blessing in disguise for him. I figured that after the pension grab made the news that Nelson was done and looking forward to exiting the BoS stage. So this comes as a surprise to me. Must be a nice gig if they want to keep doing it over and over again.

    • Jacki Livingston

      It’s a sweet spot. He strolls in, gets his taxpayer paid Starbucks coffee and scone, then plops himself down in his nice little office, and summons Wiggins or one of his other minions in to do his personal bidding. He has a huge monthly stipend for his vehicle, pumps gas free at the county pumps, has top notch healthcare and then he gets to show off once a week at meetings. He has so many layers of worker bees around him, he never actually has to deal with the inconvenient business of the county. Think about it…can anyone, ANYONE,,,name one solitary thing that any member of the BoS has done to improve the quality of life for any member of the population of the OC? Aside from a wolf dog, name one person in this County whose life is significantly improved by Nelson. Just one…I dare anyone…just one person.

      *crickets* Yup…

      • LFOldTimer

        “Think about it…can anyone, ANYONE,,,name one solitary thing that any member of the BoS has done to improve the quality of life for any member of the population of the OC?”
        The person who intends to swoop in and take Judge M. Marc Kelly’s seat on the bench?