Josie Gonzales called it a campaign loan,
but records she filed with the state Fair Political Practices Commission say
State-mandated records show the $20,000 she
got from Board of Supervisors Chairman Dennis Hansberger was a gift.
Fifth District Supervisor-elect Gonzales
received the money from the politically powerful Hansberger about 72 hours
before Election Day.
"Obviously the FPPC believes it's important
for elected officials and candidates running for office to be honest in
reporting contributions,' said the commission's Sacramento-based Executive
Director Mark Krausse.
"It's all about transparency in campaign
"The voters need to know when they cast a
vote who is supporting a candidate,' Krausse said.
Copies of California Form 497, titled "Late
Contribution Report' and filed by Hansberger and Gonzales on Oct. 29 and
Oct. 30, explicitly identify the $20,000 as a contribution.
State law requires separate forms that
distinguish loans from contributions.
On Nov. 23, Gonzales told The Sun that
Hansberger loaned her campaign $20,000 "as a cushion.' The contribution,
which she repeatedly called a loan, was an act of kindness by Hansberger,
"I didn't need the money,' Gonzales said
during the earlier interview, although she conceded that her campaign faced
"some debt.' She also promised not to use Hansberger's money to erase the
"I will pay it back,' she said. "There are
Gonzales attended Tuesday's supervisors
meeting but did not address questions raised by spectators during time set
aside for public comment. Gonzales, who defeated state Assemblyman John
Longville for the strategic and hotly contested supervisorial seat, told The
Sun last week she intends to return the $20,000.
Gonzales did not return calls seeking
comment for this report.
Hansberger also did not return messages
seeking comment. The chairman continued stonewalling The Sun's efforts to
obtain an interview, including the chance to rebut a newspaper report. The
day after Gonzales defeated Longville, Hansberger told The Sun that alluvial
fans are stable. The fans are home to thousands of dwellings in county
On Nov. 23, Hansberger denied making the
"I've never had that conversation,'
Hansberger said at last week's supervisors meeting. "I didn't say that.'
Whether the $20,000 is a loan or a
contribution, the exchange of campaign cash by the county's top elected
leaders disturbed Bob Minick of Rialto, who read a prepared statement to the
supervisors Tuesday morning.
Minick called on all five supervisors to
announce publicly they will no longer contribute to each other's campaigns.
"This would go a long way toward cleaning
up the perception of rampant corruption at the San Bernardino (County) Board
of Supervisors,' Minick said. "'Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' may
work in bed, but it's a bit too incestuous for my taste in politics.'
Hansberger and other board members listened
to Minick's comments but did not respond.
Hansberger, who has family ties and other
close associations with developers, gave the $20,000 to Gonzales on Oct. 29.
Gonzales, who has described herself as pro-growth and pro-development,
defeated Longville on Nov. 2. Longville wrote a bill that was signed into
law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September. The law establishes an
alluvial fan floodplain task force.
It is expected to bring closer scrutiny of
development on the fans, giant slopes of mountain erosion that have spilled
out of canyons over thousands of years. The foothill fan areas of north
Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino and Highland comprise much of the
region's remaining land coveted by the multibillion-dollar home-building
The supervisor-elect also decried the
newspaper's reports raising questions about Hansberger's relationship with
his land-developing father, saying it "has to stop.'
"I need to put a stop to this at the
get-go,' she said. "There's no need that every action must be scrutinized.'
Hansberger's father, Leroy, owns 15 lots
bordering the Cedar Glen Redevelopment Project. The fact is significant
because Dennis Hansberger has championed the plan from its inception and the
properties would stand to grow in value because the project could bring
better roads, along with water and sewer lines, close to his father's
But the chairman never revealed the power
of attorney that his father granted him over the elder Hansberger's real
estate holdings, which concentrate on development in the Inland counties.
Both father and son said they forgot about
the power of attorney and that it had been replaced in the late 1980s. Leroy
Hansberger conceded the authority given to his son had never been revoked.
Both men said they broke no laws and that
there was no conflict of interest in their dealings. But Dennis Hansberger
recused himself from voting on the issue last month and his father later
revoked the power of attorney.