When it was reported that Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido told the leaders of two adult baseball leagues they should sue the city over a dispute regarding the redistribution of fields, Councilman Sal Tinajero cried foul and speculated that Pulido was fishing for campaign contributions, calling it “pseudo corruption.”

But some city residents said that Tinajero has already done exactly what he is accusing Pulido of planning to do.

In 2010, Tinajero and Councilwoman Michele Martinez returned $500 each in campaign contributions to a soccer league because they violated the city’s campaign finance restrictions when they received contributions from the league and then voted to cut soccer field surcharge fees, according to The Orange County Register.

“Well Sal, jeez, pot meet kettle,” said City Hall watcher Thomas Gordon during an interview. “Weren’t you busted for that?”

Tinajero said it’s not the same situation. For one thing, he returned the campaign money to correct the conflict of interest, he said. Also, Tinajero said the entire council decided to cut the maintenance surcharge for soccer leagues across the board, so no favoritism was involved.

“During that time people were going through a huge recession, and people were losing their jobs left and right,” Tinajero said. “That was the only reason, and it wasn’t just me. … We were willing to reduce those fees across the board.”

Gordon said Pulido’s myriad business dealings and consulting jobs raise questions about whether the mayor is making decisions based on personal financial interest. But he argued that Pulido at least has the contacts to bring in good things for the city, like education centers and the Orange County High School of The Arts.

“You often question whether [Pulido] has a financial stake in the betterment of this city … but at least he’s interested in the betterment of the city,” Gordon said. “Give us the needs that we have in our city, then go ahead and steal all you want.”

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

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