Santa Ana Mayor Still Appears to Owe Money All Over Town

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido at a City Council meeting.

Nick Gerda/Voice of OC

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido at a City Council meeting.

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Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido still hasn’t paid back personal loans from wealthy patrons that could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to his most recent financial disclosures.

The loans, which according to his public filings were given to him in 2013 and 2014 and first began appearing on his statement of economic interests (also known as Form 700s) in 2014, are important to track because if he doesn’t pay them back they could be considered gifts, which could put him in violation of the state’s $460 gift limit — particularly if the lenders have business before the council.

Without specific due dates, the loans become gifts if they’ve been outstanding for longer than a year, and there haven’t been any substantial payments during that time period. The rules are outlined in this Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) fact sheet. 

On this year’s Form 700, Pulido disclosed that all of the loans but one remain outstanding. But just like last year, he didn’t disclose due dates for the loans, even though at least one of the lenders, local developer and philanthropist James “Walkie” Ray, had previously told Voice of OC that he gave Pulido a due date specified in a promissory note.

Still, Ray also said he wouldn’t hold Pulido to paying the loan back on time because “friends do that kind of thing for friends.”

(Click here to read Pulido’s latest disclosure filing.)

Making matters worse, Pulido was over a month late in filing his Form 700; and only did so after being contacted by a reporter.

The annual filings – which show a public official’s sources of income, gifts, loans and investments, among other financial interests – were due on April 1.

Santa Ana Councilman David Benavides also didn’t file his Form 700 until contacted by a reporter last week. Pulido filed yesterday, within two hours of being asked by a reporter about the document.

Both the state FPPC and the “filing officer” – which in this case would be City Clerk Maria Huizar – can levy fines against late filers. The clerk can fine the council members up to $100 a day after the due date (which is unlikely given that the council has the power to fire her) and the FPPC can issue a fine of up to $5,000 for violating the Political Reform Act.

Benavides said he was late because he was busy and didn’t get around to it. Pulido refused comment.

In the past, Pulido’s Form 700s have made for interesting reading. He’s disclosed income from an assortment of real estate, financial and alternative energy firms, including a company owned by alleged green energy con man Chaz Haba. 

But it’s what Pulido doesn’t disclose that is usually the most interesting. The FPPC fined him last year for not disclosing a questionable land swap between his family and a city contractor, who then received a $1.35 million no-bid contract to provide the city with auto parts. Pulido along with his colleagues voted to approve the agreement.

The FPPC fined him $13,000 for not disclosing details of the swap and related income, as well as having a conflict of interest when he voted on a different contract with the vendor.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • Paul Lucas

    SI there something in the water in Santa Ana? i swear every single time, every single council member ends up doing this same type of shenanigans.