Dana Point politician seeing double the fines in campaign funds abuse

Then-Assemblyman William Brough (R-Dana Point) during a 2019 floor session at the state Capitol.
Then-Assemblyman William Brough (R-Dana Point) during a floor session at the state Capitol in August 2019. Today Brough faces a $100,000 fine for misusing campaign funds and improperly reporting expenses.
(Robert Gourley / Los Angeles Times)
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Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Nov. 29. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter with a look at the latest local news and events.

A multiyear investigation into the campaign expenses of a former Orange County assemblyman, William “Bill” Brough, has resulted in the Dana Point man having the maximum penalty —$100,000 — thrown at him by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

In a piece carrying the headline “Family vacations, fancy clothes and a cigar humidor: How an O.C. politician got fined for abusing campaign funds,” Los Angeles Times writer Faith E. Pinho lays out reasons behind the unusually stiff penalty in considerable detail.

Brough, a Republican, was first elected to the state Assembly representing the 73rd District in 2014. Voters supported him again for two-year terms in 2016 and 2018, but he did not win the primary election in 2020.

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“The FPPC investigation began in 2019, after conservative political consultant Aaron Park filed a complaint, alleging that the politician had used campaign funds to pay for a trip to Boston with his family to attend a Red Sox game, as well as other extravagant spending,” Pinho reports.

Investigators with the FPPC found Brough used a total of $17,303 in campaign funds for personal expenses and failed multiple record-keeping requirements.

Also, the commission found Brough “failed to complete proper expense records for more than 140 meals, ranging in prices from $100 to $3,738 for a total of more than $53,000,” according to the story.

“In another instance, the FPPC reported that Brough used campaign funds to purchase a $1,300 custom cigar humidor, a custom bourbon barrel bar cabinet, a portable ice maker and a compact refrigerator, which he listed as office expenses but then took home when he left the Assembly,” Pinho writes.

Brough had at one point reached an agreement with the FPPC to pay off a $47,000 penalty related to the campaign finance investigation on a scheduled payment plan.

“But after making a payment of $7,500 in April, according to the filing, he stopped making payments. Brough said he stopped making payments in order to enter into a settlement with the FPPC and make the investigation stop,” Pinho reports.

This did not have Brough’s desired effect. Instead of a settlement, the commission doubled his penalty. FPPC chairman Richard Miadich also “made the unusual motion to direct staff ‘to make this a priority matter for collections purposes and to pursue any and all means at your disposal to ensure we recover the full measure of this default.’” according to story.

Readers can find the FPPC report here.

Today Brough is no longer in electoral politics, he told The Times, but works as a political consultant and lobbyist.

MORE NEWS

Trainer Sarah Klifa, left, from Coeval Training works with client Carolyn Beaver, astride Don Juan.
Trainer Sarah Klifa, left, from Coeval Training works with a client Carolyn Beaver who is astride Don Juan, at the OC Fair & Event Center Equestrian Center last Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

O.C. fairgrounds’ Equestrian Center could close in March if a new operator can’t be found, according to this story by my colleague Sara Cardine. Officials with the Orange County Fair & Event Center are contemplating the fate of the 7.5-acre parcel because the revenue generated there doesn’t cover expenses. Approximately $2.7 million was earmarked this year to run the center but only $1.4 million in revenue is projected. They decided to issue a request for proposals seeking an operator who is willing to not only run the center but to undertake some of the much-needed capital upgrades. If such an operator isn’t found, the center will close March 31.

Work began Monday on a dredging project that’s expected to bring more sand to Orange County beaches. The work, overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will dredge roughly 1.2 million cubic yards of sand off the coast of Surfside and Sunset beaches to be deposited along a stretch of beach south of the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach. From that point the sand is expected by way of natural currents to move south to Huntington, Bolsa Chica and Newport Beach, my colleague Lilly Nguyen reports in this Daily Pilot story on the project.

There was a surprise streaker near the “It’s a Small World” attraction at Disneyland Sunday afternoon. Anaheim police arrested the 26-year-old man after being called to the amusement park just after 1:30 p.m. to assist security with the naked guest, a police department spokesman told the L.A. Times. The streaker, who was not identified by name, was taken to a hospital “as a precaution,” according to the news report.

Huntington Beach High senior Ruby Brown-Bilyeu has been crowned the 111th Miss Huntington Beach, with Stella Scott and Lainie Shield as princesses. Brown-Bilyeu and her court receive scholarships from the nonprofit Sand Dollars of Huntington Beach, which sponsors the ceremony. A member of the National Honor Society and the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts student council, Brown-Bilyeu studies orchestra and dance and works to promote the Save the Music Foundation, which advocates for music education.

• The publisher of the Surf City Sentinel has challenged a potential amendment to Huntington Beach’s city charter in court. In a statement about the lawsuit, Mark Bixby says the proposed change that could appear before voters on March’s primary ballot, requiring voters to show identification, would violate both the California Constitution’s right to vote and the California Elections Code. Proponents of the measure, including its authors Mayor Tony Strickland and Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark, argue the state’s constitution gives charter cities like Huntington Beach the power to govern their own local elections.

PUBLIC SAFETY & COURTS

A victim of jewelry swap scam holds costume jewelry necklaces and ring given to her by a thief.
A victim of jewelry swap scam holds costume jewelry given to her by a thief while at her home in Bayside Village Newport Beach.
(Susan Hoffman)

A Newport Beach woman was the victim of a recent distraction theft of jewelry from around her neck. The 81-year-old resident named Elaine told Daily Pilot freelancer Susan Hoffman the crime took place as she stood in the doorway to her home, answering questions from a woman who at first claimed she needed directions to a local freeway. The stranger became very friendly, hugging Elaine and placing costume jewelry around her neck while surreptitiously removing her real gold jewelry. The ruse was not discovered until the thief left. “I’m mostly annoyed at myself because I know better, even though the predators made me feel off guard,” Elaine told Hoffman.

A Westminster mother is accused of killing her 9-year-old daughter. Khadiyjah Pendergraph, 32, was arrested Friday after a concerned relative called the Westminster Police Department at 12:04 p.m. seeking a welfare check at a home in the 14100 block of Goldenwest Street. The officers, after forcing their way in the residence, found the dead child alone with obvious signs of trauma, a police spokesman said. They arrested Pendergraph at a shopping center in Aliso Viejo. She was booked into the Orange County Jail on suspicion of murder.

A former Marine Corps sergeant from Irvine was sentenced Monday to nearly 46 months in federal prison for lying about attempting to help two foreign terrorist organizations. Jason Fong, 26, pleaded guilty March 23 to making a false statement involving international terrorism after a mistrial was declared in his trial in January, City News Service reports.

A man was struck by a train in Anaheim Sunday and was hospitalized with serious injuries. The train struck the man at about 11 p.m. at La Palma Avenue and Pauline Street, Anaheim police Sgt. Jon McClintock told City News Service.

A suspect has been charged in a stabbing at a Fountain Valley intersection. Police arrested Huntington Beach resident David Michael MacDonald, 23, at Edinger Avenue and Newhope Street after responding to the scene just after midnight on Friday. A Santa Ana resident, 32-year-old Lorenzo Carreno, was transported with multiple stab wounds to an area hospital, where he died of his injuries, authorities said.

LIFE & LEISURE

Visit Anaheim’s Brew Pass gets users savings at some of the city’s many breweries, like Brewery X.
Visit Anaheim’s Brew Pass gets users savings at some of the city’s many breweries, like Brewery X.
(Sarah Mosqueda)

Have you heard about the new Brew Pass from Visit Anaheim? My colleague Sara Mosqueda writes that Anaheim is home to 19 breweries, and the pass offers discounts and deals from a variety of them. The pass is a mobile exclusive but doesn’t require an app. Instead, beer lovers sign up at visitanaheim.org on their phone or computer to get the pass delivered to their phone via text and email, ready to use instantly. Prost!

Brody Fruscella and Delphine Ravera, both 12, enjoy the ice rink at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina.
Brody Fruscella and Delphine Ravera, both 12, couldn’t get enough of the newly built ice rink at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
(Susan Hoffman)

Newport Dunes is one of the venues bringing ice-skating opportunities to O.C. with its Fire & Ice Festival that launched Friday. Ice America began construction of the 4,100-square-foot portable rink, one of the largest in Orange County, during the first week of November in the parking area between the boat launch and the bridge, according to this story by Susan Hoffman, who visited the Dunes on opening weekend, when 2,700 visitors took part in the fun.

SPORTS

Edmonton Oilers' Adam Erne (21), James Hamblin (57) and Brett Kulak (27) celebrate a goal against the Anaheim Ducks Sunday.
Edmonton Oilers’ Adam Erne (21), James Hamblin (57) and Brett Kulak (27) celebrate a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday. The Oilers won, 8-2.
(Jason Franson / AP)

The Anaheim Ducks have been in a slump and are currently in sixth place in the National Hockey League’s Pacific Division standings. The seventh-place Edmonton Oilers routed the Ducks 8-2 on Sunday night. The Ducks face the Washington Capitals at Honda Center tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Mater Dei's Kayden Dixon-Wyatt pulls in a long reception to score against St John Bosco defender Frankie Edwards III.
Mater Dei wide receiver Kayden Dixon-Wyatt pulls in a long reception to score against St. John Bosco defender Frankie Edwards III in the third quarter during the Southern Section Division I football championship at the LA Memorial Coliseum on Friday.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Mater Dei’s football team won the Southern Section Division 1 championship, beating St. John Bosco 35-7. The Monarchs traveled from Santa Ana to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Friday night, where they played before a crowd of 11,622. Last season and in 2019, St. John Bosco won Division 1 titles after losing to Mater Dei in league play, according to Eric Sondheimer’s report on Friday night’s game in the L.A. Times.

Corona del Mar played in the Division 4 football championship game Friday, but fell to La Serna. Senior running back Owen Long helped lift host La Serna to a 49-29 victory at California High, denying CdM its seventh section title. Coverage of that game can be found here. Mission Viejo captured the championship in Division 2 play, beating Servite, 34-15.

CALENDAR THIS

Hee Seo and Cory Stearns in American Ballet Theatre’s 2022 production of “The Nutcracker.”
Hee Seo and Cory Stearns perform in American Ballet Theatre’s 2022 production of “The Nutcracker.”
(Gene Schiavone)

The classic tale of “The Nutcracker” will be revisited at Segerstrom Center for the Arts Dec. 8 through 17. More than 100 performers will take the stage for the ballet choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, with sets and costumes by Tony-winner Richard Hudson and the Pacific Symphony playing Tchaikovsky’s score. Tickets, ranging from $39 to $149, can be purchased here. -Also at the Segerstrom Center, “Nutcracker for Kids,” a condensed version of the original, will be staged Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. These performances conclude with a visit from Santa and the annual holiday sing-along. Tickets start at $40. Segerstrom Center for the Arts is located at 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.

Happy Harbor Days are underway in Dana Point Harbor now through mid-January. The annual holiday light display brings festive programming to the harbor along with more than 700,000 twinkling LED lights. Visit Happy Harbor Days at Dana Point Harbor, 34555 Golden Lantern St., and find a listing of all the events tied into the celebration here.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Thank you for reading today’s newsletter. If you have a memory or story about Orange County, I would love to read and share it in this space. Please try to keep your submission to 100 words or less and include your name and current city of residence.

I appreciate your help in making this the best newsletter it can be. Please send news tips, your memory of life in O.C. (photos welcome!) or comments to carol.cormaci@latimes.com.