A candidate for the Ventura County Community College Board of Trustees has accused an opponent of attempting to bribe him to drop out of the race.
Dan Peate said opponent Sandy Patrizio, along with Joel Angeles, chief of staff for Assemblyman Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark), offered to reimburse him for campaign expenses and support him in a future bid for office if he stepped aside.
Patrizio denies the allegation.
Peate said the offer was made several times after Aug. 14, during phone conversations and face-to-face meetings. His campaign treasurer, Justin Saltzman, who attended one of the meetings, has filed a complaint with the Ventura County district attorney’s office.
Chief investigator Gary Auer declined to say if his office was pursuing the matter, citing policy.
Patrizio and Peate, both Republicans from Thousand Oaks, are vying for the nonpartisan seat held by departing board President Norman Nagel. He represents Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Oak Park on the five-member board. Carroll Bowen, Cheryl Heitmann and Linda Van Dolsen also are running for the seat in the Nov. 5 election.
“I didn’t give him any form of bribery,” Patrizio, 66, said in response to Peate’s allegations. “I don’t know what his game is. This is something new to me, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it.”
Patrizio, who is endorsed by Strickland, said he and Peate met about two weeks ago at Peate’s request, but he refused to say what they discussed.
“If he’s taking our meeting to this extent, and he wants to put it in the newspaper--I don’t know. He’s just--I don’t know.”
Peate said Patrizio offered on three occasions to write him a check for $1,400 to cover his campaign expenses. Patrizio and Angeles also promised Peate an appointment to the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission and to support him financially in a 2004 bid for a Thousand Oaks City Council seat, Peate said.
Angeles, a volunteer advisor to Patrizio’s campaign, said that during an Aug. 15 meeting, Peate was “willing to entertain the idea of dropping out of the race but said he would need some help.”
“He said, ‘Joel, what can you offer me?’ ” Angeles said. “I said, verbatim, ‘Dan, there are no quid pro quos. It doesn’t matter to us if you’re in the race or not. Any support from Tony Strickland is contingent upon begin honest and hard-working.’
“What he chooses to hear and tell the press is something different,” Angeles said.
The controversy is the latest to hit the community college board, which is under fire for giving Chancellor Philip Westin a $30,000 pay raise four months ago after Westin was accused of abusing his expense account. Westin spent $119,000 over four years, mostly on meals, car repairs and computer equipment. He has since been placed on paid administrative leave while the board decides whether to fire him or buy out his $203,000-a-year contract.
“With the current controversy surrounding the community college district, the last thing we need are questionable campaign tactics by candidates for the board,” said Peate, 24, who is running on a campaign to reform the board.