The Orange County clerk-recorder’s office is refusing to release a report prepared by Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman that was originally due six months ago because it is still in “draft” form, raising questions about whether the councilman failed to fully complete the tasks of his taxpayer-funded contract while he was campaigning for office.
Brandman, who was hired as a staffer at the clerk-recorder’s office in 2011, resigned toward to the end of the year as his City Council campaign geared up.
He was then granted an individual services contract on Jan. 31.
Brandman’s firm, Jordan Brandman Consulting, was to be paid $24,900 to prepare a facilities needs study on possibly opening a clerk-recorder’s department branch office in west Orange County, according to the contract.
The contract’s end date was supposed to be July 31, 2012. But then the county gave Brandman an extension through Jan. 31. His compensation amount was increased to $26,400, a contract amendment shows.
During that time, Brandman had been campaigning for his council seat, which he won handily.
It is unclear whether Brandman has been paid under the contract or exactly what he did to earn any compensation.
Brandman did not return a call seeking comment.
District Attorney Tony Rackackaus also has questions about Brandman’s work and whether the councilman has been abusing public resources. Rackauckas’ office has been reviewing a complaint that while an Anaheim Union High School District trustee, Brandman used a small district office for personal use, a possible violation of state law that is punishable by a $1,000 fine.
Assistant Clerk-Recorder Renee Ramirez, who is vying for the clerk-recorder job, said that questions submitted by a Voice of OC reporter about Brandman’s work at the agency must be reviewed by county lawyers before they can be answered.
Brandman first raised eyebrows when Tom Daly, then clerk-recorder, hired him in January 2011 as the department’s director of external relations.
The campaigns of Brandman and Daly, who in the last election won the 69th Assembly seat, were both heavily supported by business lobbyists and the Disneyland Resort.
Doling out taxpayer-funded positions to political allies isn’t uncommon inside the halls of the county administration.
For example, emails released last year by the Orange County Employees Association showed that there’s a quiet tradition at the county by which numerous political aides to members of the Board of Supervisors are fast tracked for positions in the county bureaucracy.
According to emails, Whitney Ayers, an aide to former Supervisor Bill Campbell, was fast tracked for a position inside the county’s Health Care Agency even before she formally applied for a position. Another Campbell aide, Christine Compton, was recently fast tracked for a legislative affairs job, and another, Lou Bronstein, filled a legislative affairs slot that opened at John Wayne Airport.
Former Campbell Chief of Staff Laura Cunningham is also rumored to be in the process of moving into the county bureaucracy.
In late 2011, Huntington Beach Councilman Matthew Harper, a former aide to Supervisor Janet Nguyen, was quietly transferred from Nguyen’s office to county Waste & Recycling as a public affairs manager.
That move also raised a eyebrows among supervisors and their staffs. After a slew of questions, Harper had his job title downgraded.
As soon as Brandman left his clerk-recorder’s office job, his consulting firm was granted a contract to complete the facilities needs assessment report.
Yet figuring out what Brandman did under the contract is difficult, and understanding what he did as external relations manager is even harder.
Throughout 2011, most emails Brandman sent to clerk-recorder’s office staff were notices that he wouldn’t be in the office. Some were sick days, but most were to attend “offsite meetings.”
Yet who Brandman met and how that benefited the clerk-recorder’s office is unclear.
Clerk-recorder staff purged Brandman’s public calendars, which is a regular practice when a department employee resigns, according to Ramirez. But according to open-government experts, that is a violation of the state’s laws on public records retention.
“Jordan’s [computer] hard drive, network account and email account were cleared out and deleted upon conclusion of his County employment. This is standard policy for those no longer employed by the Clerk-Recorder. I can’t say whether or not any calendar appointments ever existed,” Ramirez wrote in an email to a Voice of OC reporter.
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