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| News | June 28, 2019

College Investigated

The law might have broken when an employee at College of the Canyons possibly signed a lease to use space in Valencia Town Center in support of Measure E, and it’s being investigated by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

According to an email from Commission Assistant Sasha Linker, the FPPC is investigating “laundered campaign contributions” and “contributions by intermediary or agent.”

Linker’s email also provided documentation, including the same documents the Gazette previously was given: an event agreement between the school and Westfield, which owns the Valencia Town Center, to lease space in the mall between March 25-June 25, 2016 as a Yes-on-E campaign headquarters; and a document listing the college’s Rockwell Canyon Road address and contact as Claudia Dunn, then the special assistant to Chancellor Dianne Van Hook. The phone number was redacted; the original document lists a college number.

Linker’s email said the FPPC also is looking into the claim that “COC acted as an intermediary by allowing the (Yes on E) Committee to conduct campaign activity from the location (suite 2312) in the Valencia Town Center Mall.”

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Richard Michael, who runs the website Big Bad Bonds, previously said the school’s actions violated the state Education Code. On Monday, he called the FPPC letter “kind of a form letter, but it indicates it’s going to the next stage. … The fact they’re looking at it is significant.”

Linker’s documentation also included the letter sent to Van Hook. It repeats the allegations being investigated and adds, “At this time, we have not made any determination about the allegation(s) made in the complaint.”

Linker’s documents say that by July 3, the FPPC will decide whether to investigate, refer to another government agency or take no action.

College spokesperson Eric Harnish said in an email the school has not received a copy of the complaint. “When we do, we will work with the commission to ensure the issue is properly resolved,” he said.

Board member Joan MacGregor said she was aware the FPPC was investigating. “I hope everyone kept proper records. I hope everything was done correctly,” she said.

Former City Council Candidates Settle in Court

In the final disposition of the case of one city council candidate’s civil harassment restraining order against another candidate, Sean Weber was awarded $22,000 in costs and attorney fees, court documents show.

Weber originally filed for a restraining order for himself, his mother, father-in-law and brother May 9, 2017, against Brett Haddock, court documents show. Weber claimed he feared for his and his family’s safety.

Haddock, who like Weber unsuccessfully ran for city council in 2016, was ordered to pay $1,500 per month starting June 1. Weber and attorney Troy Slaten said that as of last week, they had not been paid.

Haddock had appealed to the state Court of Appeal, citing the First Amendment and receiving support in an amicus brief from the UCLA School of Law’s First Amendment Clinic.

But the court ruled 3-0 that Haddock also engaged in private harassment, which isn’t covered under the First Amendment.

“I felt like the red herring was the (First Amendment). It had nothing to do with it, the restraining order,” Weber said last week. “It was his other conduct that I went to court over. It’s his private conduct by contacting of my friends and family and all that kind of stuff.”

The case was returned to the trial court, which awarded most of the $29,000 Slaten said he sought.

Haddock declined comment except to say, “Sean Weber is a psychopath and I want him to leave me alone. It’s ironic that I can’t get a restraining order on him.”

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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