The city of Garden Grove on Wednesday released an audio recording of Mayor Bao Nguyen’s late-night conversation with a police officer, and Nguyen can be heard using expletives to describe another council member.
In the recording, Nguyen calls Councilman Phat Bui a “fucking dick” for the way he treated Nguyen in his early days as mayor.
Other than that, the audio recording doesn’t offer much interesting material. Nguyen and the officer, Sgt. Mike Viscomi, who is also the police union president, can be heard talking about the officer’s twin daughters and Nguyen’s consideration of whether to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), among other things.
City council members Tuesday voted in closed session to release the audio after word of its existence spread and residents began requesting it. The council members, including Bui, decided to release it “in the name of transparency,” City Attorney Omar Sandoval said after the meeting.
Much of the audio is inaudible or difficult to hear. At some point after Nguyen disparages Bui, he asks Viscomi, “Why’d he do that?”
“I don’t know,” Viscomi responds. “I’m not as politically savvy as some of the other associations.”
Bui couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
Nguyen also asks Viscomi what he thinks about Nguyen running for Congress. Viscomi says he thinks Nguyen would “get the votes,” but asks whether he feels he’s ready for it.
Nguyen references Sanchez in a part of the audio that’s difficult to hear. Nguyen later told a Voice of OC reporter that he was “making fun” of Sanchez’s controversial war cry she made to a group of Indian Americans, a gaffe she made early in her run for Senate.
The mayor can also be heard referencing Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait’s financial “stake” in the Great Wolf Lodge. Tait’s environmental engineering firm is a subcontractor on the hotel, and some have criticized him for doing business with a hotel that has received subsidies when he’s been such a staunch opponent of subsidies for hotels in Anaheim.
Nguyen said he later figured out that Tait’s interest in the Garden Grove hotel “wasn’t much of anything” and that a blog was “trying to make it bigger than it really was.”
In comments emailed to Voice of OC Tuesday, Nguyen admitted to using some “salty language” in his conversation with Viscomi, and called its release a “distraction from the real issues we need to work on.”
But he also supported releasing the audio recording, saying, “I always err on the side of transparency.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the ethnicity of the group Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez spoke to when she made her war cry.