California State Athletic Commission investigation: How did (then) 80 year old scandal-plagued politician John Frierson get an important job promotion?
By Zach Arnold | May 9, 2012
On Monday, we released an investigative report into the current ongoing activity of the California State Athletic Commission and its current Chairman, John Frierson. If you have not read the report, we strongly warn you that you first read our Monday item before you read today’s investigative item here. While the Monday report is lengthy & detailed, it created the building blocks of the foundation of our current investigation. Once you have read Monday’s report, it will make today’s investigative item much clearer in terms of understanding.
We consider our current, ongoing investigation to be a very serious news story and one that is worthy of your attention. In the abstract, it may not initially appear to be a serious story for you if you are a fight fan. However, as you delve into the details of our investigation, you will start to a formulate a troubling picture of what is currently happening in the California political scene and how it is impacting California’s combat sport industry.
Introduction – part two
On Monday, we posted the first article in our investigation about the California State Athletic Commission and the CSAC’s chairman, John Frierson. Our initial investigation was sparked by our research into labor-backed new MMA amendments proposed by Assemblyman Luis Alejo for AB2100, which would give the CSAC sweeping oversight rights to review MMA fighter contracts. In plain English, AB2100 would give MMA fighters the same rights that boxers currently have.
- California Assembly Bill could give fighters new rights, challenge UFC contracts
- Lorenzo Fertitta’s letter in opposition to AB2100 amendments
- Recap of Sacramento AB2100 bill hearing; passes committee on 5-3 vote
- Layout of how AB2100 currently stands (April 29th)
- California’s heavyweight politicians & neutering of AB2100 (May 4th)
During the course of our investigation into AB2100, we quickly discovered that the California State Athletic Commission (based on circumstantial evidence) is not interested in seeing amendments to AB2100 passed because of the perceived financial costs that would be involved in not only implementing the new regulations but also in lost revenue due to promoters such as UFC threatening to no longer run shows in California.
As our investigation progressed, we discovered & researched information that led us down some unusual political roads that we were not originally pursuing. The goal of our investigation into the CSAC regarding AB2100 was strictly about finding out information that fight fans would be interested in. What you care about is what regulators do that impacts the fights you see, the promoters who put on events, and the health & safety of the fighters participating. That is what you care about and that is what we initially restricted our focus on.
However, as we went further into our investigation into the California State Athletic Commission, we noticed some alarming political information regarding the current state of affairs at the CSAC and in regard to the current chairman of the CSAC, John Frierson. Frierson, who has been involved in California Democratic Party politics since Richard Nixon was President, has been a 40-plus year long friend of California’s current Governor, Jerry Brown. Chairman Frierson has developed a lengthy, established political career in CADEM circles featuring connections to some of the biggest names in politics. In our Monday report, we demonstrated the connections that John Frierson & his wife Susie Frierson have with state leaders such as Curren Price Jr., current Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Assembly Speakers Herb Wesson & Karen Bass, along with California Democrats who are currently in the US House of Representatives (Janice Hahn, Brad Sherman, and… Karen Bass, member of the Budget Committee). Frierson, who has been a long-time member of the New Frontier Democratic Club (African-American political organization) in Los Angeles, is currently on the NFDC’s executive board of leadership. It is through these major political connections that John Frierson has been able to obtain the political power he currently possesses. What Chairman Frierson has done with this political power via his spot on the California State Athletic Commission since 2001 is what we care about.
As our research into Chairman Frierson and his political connections both in Los Angeles & Sacramento continued, we discovered several uncomfortable findings that should be of great concern to everyone. Pouring through DCA & CSAC Agenda & Minutes records throughout the past years, we discovered many issues that the California State Athletic Commission is currently facing. Besides the on-going political battle over amendments to AB2100, we discovered that the commission is facing a major dilemma regarding it’s Neurological Fund. Our Monday report detailed a listing of agenda information by the commission in regards to the current financial problems the commission is facing in regards to maintaining current medical testing procedures as mandated by California state law. The agenda document noted that the commission, as currently operating, would be running a deficit of $550,000 if the commission has to take care of both the costs for standard medical testing & neurological testing of athletes. The commission proposed that a change was needed to the state law so that the CSAC would only pay for neurological test costs and not for standard medical testing. The end result of such a proposal change was the concept of raising the amount of money by collecting more money from ticket sales. The commission said that they are currently taking $0.60 from each ticket and that in order to fund current expenses, they would need to take $2.70 from each event ticket in the State. The situation & its legal consequences are of serious importance.
What we wanted to find out in our investigation is what kind of power Chairman Frierson currently has and how he is wielding it to make big decisions that impact commission business. Our findings led us down a trail in which Chairman Frierson was implicated in a famous ticket/gift scandal in 2009. The scandal was created by an LA Times newspaper investigation. That investigation led to then-Governor Schwarzenegger reading the riot act via the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to the CSAC. Either resign or straighten up your act. The end result was that some heads did in fact roll. However, John Frierson didn’t resign. He didn’t quit. He didn’t lose his job like 80-year old Dick Lugar did on Tuesday night.
Instead, politically-speaking, something miraculous happened for Mr. Frierson. Our Monday report led us down the trail of finding out how John Frierson became Chairman Frierson and what the rest of the story was. In addition, we noted that The Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee would hold an oversight investigation into the current activities of the California State Athletic Commission next Spring (2013). The leader of the Senate’s Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee? Curren Price Jr., a rising Democratic Party star in California who is a staunch political ally of… CSAC Chairman John Frierson.
So, how did John Frierson pull off his promotion? How did he manage to politically inoculate himself to a position of being Teflon when it comes to deflecting away scandal? Why did he fight so hard to keep his spot on the California State Athletic Commission? What plans does he have on using the power he currently possesses to influence the way business is handled in the California combat sports scene?
For this report, we wanted to build upon what was written in the Monday report in regards to the following topics:
- Why the California State Athletic Commission isn’t all that particularly interested in AB2100 and what clues have we seen that could demonstrate this, resulting in a political civil war of sorts between various CADEM factions
- A more detailed look at the political web John Frierson has weaved in regards to the politicians that back him and the politicians he has backed and why these relationships not only have proven to be critical but also are relationships others in the CADEM political machine share as well
- Just what happened after the ticket/gift scandal that led to more job security for John Frierson with the CSAC and why he wanted/wants that job security so badly
- How Chairman Frierson & Governor Jerry Brown have used their political power to appoint CSAC officials that politically owe them support
- Finalizing a determination as to whether or not Chairman Frierson can successfully manage & work at solving the major problems that the California State Athletic Commission is currently facing… and if the CSAC is even his top political priority in his life
- The future of the California State Athletic Commission’s existence and whether or not the commission would survive scrutiny from an independent, non-partisan business review of CSAC activities
All of these topics raised for debate & investigation are of importance. If the California State Athletic Commission is in political or financial peril, how can anyone be sure that they can effectively regulate combat sports in the state?
The battle over AB2100 and its survival
Last Thursday, we received word that some marking up was being done to the text of the new MMA amendments being proposed for AB2100. The amendments on the table, as of April 25th, would have attacked contract provisions that UFC & other MMA promoters use in their contracts — such as the Champion’s clause, giving away ancillary rights for video games for life, so on and so forth.
Right after the April 25th Assembly committee hearing on AB2100 amendments, we heard the rumors that the California State Athletic Commission was not exactly thrilled with the prospects of these new amendments to AB2100 being passed. The commission is struggling to balance the books and the UFC’s threat of never promoting again in California would be a swift kick to the nuts for them. Money talks.
After discussion about some of the new amendment provisions being marked through became public, another tidbit about Assemblyman Alejo also started spreading — he wanted a meeting with the CSAC to go over the new AB2100 amendments. The meeting would take place in San Diego in early June. The commission will have a medical advisory meeting on the 3rd and a standard hearing on the 4th.
However, there’s one big roadblock in the political process – Appropriations. In order for whatever remains of AB2100 to see the day of light, the marked-up amendments will have to go through the Assembly’s Appropriations committee. If the bill can’t survive committee, it’s basically toast. However, if the amendments survive like a zombie through Appropriations, then perhaps a meeting with the CSAC could happen.
The big question is whether or not AB2100 would get an Appropriations hearing date this month. The answer? According to a well-connected source, there will be a hearing on the bill set for May 16th in Appropriations. That will be decision-day for Assemblyman Alejo on whether or not the bill will survive and if he’ll throw himself a little celebration on the Assembly floor, just like he did when he proposed to his long-time girlfriend on the Floor earlier this week. He got a ‘yes’ vote for his engagement and he’s hoping for a ‘yes’ vote from Appropriations on the 16th for AB2100.
However, even if the smooth operator can get AB2100 to survive Appropriations, he’s got a hell of a task on his hands with the California State Athletic Commission and Chairman Frierson, the man dubbed “Mr. We Want Business.” Business does mean tickets & gifts, too!
How will the CSAC react to being presented with MMA-related amendments to AB2100? Evidence suggests the reception could be cold.
In the February 6th, 2012 agenda for that particular California State Athletic Committee hearing, a curious item appeared on Page 73.
Promoter’s Promotional Contracts Update
Background: On January 9, 2012, the Commission held a meeting with four major California promoters concerning the requirement of Title 4, Rule 222 Boxer-Promoter Promotional Contracts with Professional Fighters. In its current form, the California contract is titled “Addendum” and the contract between the promoter and the boxer is the primary. Accordingly, the initial discussion concerned changing the California contract to be the primary contract. This led to a productive discussion concerning some of the major disadvantages this contract imposes on professional promoters in California.
Disadvantages identified were:
1) Requiring the presence of all parties in one place for a contract signing imposes a logistical as well as competitive disadvantage.
2) Having the contract on file with the Commission’s office exposes the provision of an individual’s contract to competitors.
3) Requiring the parties to submit to arbitration as a prerequisite to litigation is unduly burdensome.
4) This contract is unique to California, no other commission requires it, particularly Nevada, Texas, New York, and Florida; states somewhat similar to California.
It was the general consensus of the promoters present that if the Boxer-Promoter contract was no longer required, they would in fact promote more events in California.
If the Commission wants to consider changes or elimination to the Boxer-Promoter contract, staff will research the pros and cons, considering whether elimination is consistent with the Commission’s mission of public protection, and if the absence of the California Boxer-Promoter contract would in any way be an disadvantage to boxers.
Two months later, on April 9th, this agenda item indicated that change would be discussed:
Promoter’s Promotional Contract Update
Mr. Dodd reported that he, several promoters, and Ms. Chappelle met and discussed provisions of promotional contracts and found that changes to the contract may be necessary.
Eric Gomez, Golden Boy Promotions; Roy Engelbrecht; and Dan Goossen, Goossen Tutor Promotions, commented on the logistical difficulties that exist since the contract must be signed in the presence of commission staff and also that having the contract filed with the commission exposes, to the inquiring public, items in the contract that should remain confidential between the parties.
It was M/S/C (motion/seconded/confirmed) to direct the DCA Legal Office to prepare a proposal and then discussion options at an interested parties meeting.
Let me translate this for you in plain English:
- Boxing promoters think current California state regulations (e.g. AB2100) are a pain in the ass and are telling the commission they’ll run more shows if they don’t have to go through so many hoops.
- The Commission is receptive to what the promoters are telling them. This is all about Executive Director George Dodd and Chairman John Frierson. As Roy Engelbrecht commented at a recent CSAC meeting, he praised the Executive Director for being more open-minded and considerate of both fighters & promoters when compared to the behavior of past ED’s.
- The UFC made a similar argument to these boxer promoters on the issue of ‘trade secrets’ in regards to contracts being made public. After all, Zuffa has sued people in court over exposing such trade secrets.
However, the most interesting political takeaway from the April 9th item is that Karen Chappelle’s name is mentioned. She’s a long-time big wig with the DCA/CSAC. Her name is an important one to remember. Later in this article, we’ll tell you why she’s a name you don’t want to forget.
One more note — when the Commission says that the DCA Legal Office will take suggestions under consideration, it is critical to note that Governor Jerry Brown controls the Department of Consumer Affairs. If Governor Brown wants something to be done, it will get done. Because the Governor can influence/control the DCA, this power can be combined with the power of Governor Brown’s long-time political ally John Frierson as Chairman of the CSAC to produce true CADEM Establishment power on a major scale.
This is what Assemblyman Luis Alejo & the unions are up against when it comes to the new amendments to AB2100. If the unions press the issue during the 2012 Election cycle, you could see political chaos between strongly influential CADEM political factions. This is pure political insider baseball on display.
When in doubt, put your money on the CADEM Establishment. John Frierson’s political existence over four decades is proof positive of the CADEM’s political machine, for better or for worse.
John Frierson, the politician, and how he’s consolidated political power
In our Monday report, we detailed how difficult it is for a person appointed to the California State Athletic Commission to remain on the political board. The Governor can make political appointments between two and four years. One Senate appointment lasts four years. The Assembly Speaker can appoint someone for four years.
John Frierson has managed to politically survive as a member of the California State Athletic Commission, despite various commission scandals, since 2001.
In order for this to happen, one has to be extremely powerful in terms of political connections and also must be thought of a person that politicians must kiss the ring of. Given John Frierson’s role in Los Angeles politics, it’s easy to see why he’s maintained his standing for so long.
We noted that Chairman Frierson, since his stint on the CSAC board, has used his position as a tagline for countless political endorsements of CADEM politicians aspiring for higher office. One of those candidates is Janice Hahn, who happened to win her election. If the last name Hahn sounds familiar to you in California political circles, it should. Her brother was the former Mayor of Los Angeles, James Hahn. James Hahn happened to be the first mayor to appoint John Frierson to the LA Department of Transportation board. After Antonio Villaraigosa took over as Mayor of Los Angeles he, too, backed John Frierson for a political position with the city.
As we’ve further investigated the political career of John Frierson, it’s easy to see just how much public service and the perks of political power mean to the current CSAC Chairman. Since his appointment to the CSAC in 2001, he has been a perpetual election machine. Not only is he a kingmaker through his various club connections, political endorsements, and political friendships, he’s also someone who constantly runs for political office.
Despite being a member of the California State Athletic Commission, he has listed his main ‘occupation’ on political papers as working for the (LA) Democratic Party County Central Committee. In 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008, he ran for office in the 53rd District of California for this specific political position. He’s a busy man, isn’t he?
One of the items we noted in our Monday report about John Frierson is that he has campaigned for various insider baseball issues in California such as political redistricting. The reason we took care to note this for you is because Mr. Frierson is running for office again, this time for the same position in a different district.
An important note about Chairman Frierson’s political career running for the County Central Committee is that one of the backers he has publicly touted on his behalf is Steve Westly, a money man and mover-and-shaker in California politics. Westly has backed plenty of candidates. However, what’s interesting about the candidates he’s backed is the connection they have to each other. More about Steve Westly’s political backing in a minute.
While Steve Westly’s political backing is worth some public recognition in California political circles, one of the most powerful backers of John Frierson is former California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. Her backing of Mr. Frierson in Los Angeles meant a lot to him.
However, her biggest display of support for John Frierson was his re-appointment to the California State Athletic Commission in 2010. It turned out to be one of her final moves as Assembly Leader in California before she moved on to the US House of Representatives and the reverberations from this move are being felt today.
(If you don’t know who Karen Bass is or what her political background is, a lot of national voters learned about her yesterday when she inspired a debate between Republicans & Democrats in Washington D.C. over comments she made about food stamps.)
We previously detailed the gift & ticket scandal that rocked the California State Athletic Commission in 2009 when Michael Rothfeld of The Los Angeles investigated CSAC records to find out what kinds of goodies those associated with the commission were receiving. The scandal was a stain on Governor Schwarzenegger’s political record and he cleaned house as a result. A month later, the CSAC voted 5-0 to stop accepting free gifts & tickets. One of those who voted on having a change of heart about free tickets & gifts was John Frierson.
After Frierson was named by the LA Times for getting tickets/gifts for himself, his wife, his pastor, and friends, he managed to stay in power. While others were resigning and/or fired, Mr. Frierson kept his seat with the CSAC. When Dr. Christopher Giza received a strong warning letter from the Fair Political Practices Commission, Frierson got a slap on a wrist and was told that the file on this matter was closed for him.
After the LA Times investigation, something happened. While others were quickly becoming an endangered species politically-speaking, Frierson managed to keep his political career alive. Before leaving the Assembly Leader’s chair, she re-appointed John Frierson to the California State Athletic Commission. This appointment means that his tenure on the commission doesn’t expire until January 1st, 2015.
Keep in mind that in addition to John Frierson being named in the LA Times gift/ticket scandal, he also developed a mixed track record in terms of attendance at CSAC meetings (based on the agenda & meeting documents we’ve poured through on the DCA site). There was plenty of reason, on the surface, to let his tenure on the California State Athletic Commission expire.
So, the question then becomes the following — what was said to Karen Bass and by whom in order for her to make this move? Was the move purely out of friendship? Was the move a call from CADEM HQ? Who said what and why was this decision made?
To add a further layer of intrigue to the Assembly Leader’s re-appointment of John Frierson to the California State Athletic Commission, take a look at an uncomfortable fact that stands out like an elephant in the room:
At the 2004 DNC convention in Boston, John Frierson was a delegate from California. Notice who else he is listed next to? Linda Forster, who just got appointed to the California State Athletic Commission by Governor Jerry Brown last year! More on that in a minute (along with the Steve Westly connection).
John Frierson is listed as age 74 in 2004. That means he is 82 years old today. At the time he was re-appointed by Karen Bass in 2010, he was 80 years old. This online posting by Mr. Frierson seems to verify his age (by his own account).
In order to be an 80 year old scandal-tainted politician and maintain your political power, you have to have one hell of a track record in terms of political connections, political power, and overall influence. There are very few politicians in their 80s who can survive a political scandal in these current times.
The only recent example that comes to mind is Charlie Rangel, who got a slap on the wrist over his tax & ethic escapades. Because he’s well-liked on Capitol Hill and he’s a senior figure of politics, he’s maintained his job security. Unless you’re John Frierson or Charlie Rangel, politicians in their 80s who find themselves in political trouble are shown the door.
The difference between Charlie Rangel and John Frierson, however, is the following: one saved his job and the other one got a job promotion. Why did this happen? We know who made it happen, but why?
Since Chairman Frierson has been given his promotion, we have a couple of prime examples of how his political connections have come into play.
Chairman Frierson’s business & political interests manifest into some curious decision making
The California State Athletic (Crony) Commission.
On June 27th, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown made three appointments to the California State Athletic Commission — Linda Forster, Brian Edwards, and Michael Munoz. Mrs. Forster & Mr. Edwards are from Southern California.
In our Monday report, we noted the following bio for Mrs. Forster:
Linda Forster, 42, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the California State Athletic Commission. She has served as the president of Forster Construction Company since 1994. Forster served as the administrator for the Parents of Watts from 1993 to 2006 and as the director of the Dianne Feinstein Home for Young Mothers from 1991 to 1993. She also worked as a clinical social worker at the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center in 1996. Forster served as a commissioner for the City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services Board from 2001 to 2004. She was a member of the U.S. Junior Olympics Basketball team in 1987.
When Linda Forster was previously running for political office, she had famous a famous California Democratic treasurer named Kinde Durkee who filed Friends for Linda Harris-Forster on behalf. Durkee would later be charged by authorities for fraud in a very high-profile case that impacted Senator Dianne Feinstein. One item we caught wind of was this description of the money marks backing Forster:
First of all, Linda is the daughter of Sweet Alice Harris and is the front-runner in terms of fundraising. She has the financial support of the biggest of the state’s big wigs, including my beloved sugar daddy, former Controller Steve Westly.
There’s the magical name of Steve Westly. In addition to Steve Westly backing both Linda Forster & John Frierson in their political endeavors, our research discovered that John’s wife, Susie, donated to The Friends for Linda Harris-Forster.
In other words, Linda Forster’s appointment to the CSAC has some big-time political juice. Let us connect the dots for you so the picture is clearer:
- Jerry Brown and CSAC Chairman John Frierson have been friends/political allies for over four decades.
- Steve Westly, a famous money man in California politics, has backed both Linda Forster & John Frierson.
- John Frierson’s wife, Susie, donated to Linda Forster’s campaign.
- Jerry Brown appointed Linda Forster to the CSAC board, which is currently lead by Chairman John Frierson.
- Linda Forster nominated John Frierson as Chairman of of the CSAC at a recent meetng.
See how the political machine works? If your head isn’t spinning from that summary, this next summary might get your gander up.
The other Governor Brown appointee from Southern California is a man named Brian Edwards. Let’s take a look at his bio from the CSAC web site:
Brian Edwards, 48, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the California State Athletic Commission. Edwards is the chief operating officer of Relativity Media. Previously, he was the chief operating officer and general counsel of Mark Burnett Productions from 2009 to May 2011 and the president and chief operating officer at Overnight Productions from 2007 to 2009. Edwards was the chief operating officer and general counsel at DreamWorks, LLC from 2004 to 2007 after serving as the head of legal affairs from 1999 to 2004. Edwards worked at Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger, serving as a partner from 1996 to 1999 after serving as an associate from 1989 to 1996. Edwards was a co-executive producer of the TV series, “The Contender.”
On the surface, it sounds like the prototypical political appointee. A fight fan, a lawyer, Hollywood, big business. However, when it comes to the actions of Governor Jerry Brown & Chairman John Frierson, it always pays to dig deeper.
The LA Times published an explosive article on August 25th, 2004, detailing business dealings between the California State Athletic Commission and producers from two reality TV boxing shows, “The Next Great Champ” and “The Contender.” Because the two shows ended up in a legal battle, some very scandalous details were revealed about the way business was handled in regards to the producers dealings with the CSAC.
What’s more, both the “Champ” and “Contender” producers negotiated lower-than-normal state taxes on the license-fee payments mandated for boxing broadcasts. Representatives of both shows successfully argued that they should pay tax only on the portion of their shows actually devoted to boxing matches — typically just a few minutes in each episode. Other promoters described this arrangement as highly unusual. In the case of “Champ,” the amount and timing of the tax payments was sharply questioned by the then-chairman of the California Athletic Commission, which regulates boxing.
While the media initially focused on the CSAC softening standards about immediately reporting fight results for matches that were taped for television, the real scandal involved tax breaks the producers of the shows received. In the LA Times article, a commissioner is quoted as saying they softened their stance about the result reporting due to fear that the reality TV shows would be taped elsewhere. Money talks.
Take note of the following from the Times article. Hint: Big-wig name Karen Chappelle appears:
Commissioner John Frierson referred calls to the commission’s general counsel; other commissioners could not be reached. … “Our official comment is ‘no comment,’ ” said Karen Chappelle, the deputy attorney general who signed off on the disclosure deal. Spokesman Tom Dresslar of the attorney general’s office in Sacramento also declined requests for comment.
At the time the deals were made by the CSAC with the reality TV shows, there were four members on the commission due to vacancies. In the LA Times article, take a look at the eye-popping numbers that the producers got in terms of tax breaks.
So, how does newly-appointed Governor Brown CSAC appointee Brian Edwards fit into this picture? Go back to his bio for the answer:
Edwards was the chief operating officer and general counsel at DreamWorks, LLC from 2004 to 2007 after serving as the head of legal affairs from 1999 to 2004. … Edwards was a co-executive producer of the TV series, “The Contender.”
So, here we have Brian Edwards, who did business with John Frierson when he was with the California State Athletic Commission in 2004 on behalf of Mark Burnett for the reality TV show “The Contender” in order to reportedly get tax breaks from the state, now getting appointed by Governor Brown to the same regulatory body that Frierson is now Chairman of.
The consolidation of power between the political axis of Governor Jerry Brown, his four-decade old ally John Frierson, and rising political star Curren Price Jr. in the state Senate is an absolute result of the symbiotic relationship shared by all of them and the CADEM Establishment. There is no avoiding this fact.
What matters now is how this power is put to use. The conflicts of interest are vastly numerous and disturbing. Will it lead to a more disciplined regulatory authority? History says no and that chaos is ready to be ignited based on the actions of the players involved.
Need a example of this principle? Two years after publicly voting to approve a no-more-gifts-or-tickets policy for the California State Athletic Commission due to an LA Times investigation, Chairman John Frierson on his accord brought up and proposed a revision to the commission’s gift policy. The end result is that he’s opened the door up once again for tickets and/or gifts for certain members of the commission.
These are the individuals in charge of a Neurological Fund that is threatening to run a huge deficit due to laws mandating that the commission pay for medical testing costs and neurological exams.
These are the individuals in charge of implementing a Therapeutic Use Exemption program to allow fighters to get hall passes for testosterone usage. With an increasing amount of high-profile names in Mixed Martial Arts proclaiming hypogonadism and a need to use testosterone, California is now sending a message with open arms to accept fighters who might have been scared off from fighting in the state. Scaring off big name UFC fighters would be bad for business and that’s not what Chairman Frierson wants.
The clock is financially ticking for the California State Athletic Commission. With 82-year old Chairman John Frierson at the helm with Governor Jerry Brown & Curren Price Jr. in his corner, can the commission solve the impending problems that are mounting on top of each other?
The sunset political provision for the California State Athletic Commission
On Monday, we made sure to mention about the political connections between Governor Jerry Brown, Chairman John Frierson, and Curren Price Jr. Governor Brown’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) oversees the California State Athletic Commission. Given that Governor Brown runs the DCA and his ally is the Chairman of the CSAC, it’s hard to see how Chairman Frierson will be any sort of fall guy. If anything, his political power (as we’ve demonstrated in this article) is consolidation and getting bigger.
Curren Price Jr. is the Chair of the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee. This committee has oversight power in regards to examining the future of the California State Athletic Commission. As we outlined on Monday, the Senate committee receives a report from the CSAC on the health of the commission and the financial issues the regulatory body faces. There is a sunset provision that, should the Senate choose to enforce, could shut down the CSAC if problems get out of control.
Given the political relationship between Curren Price Jr. and Chairman John Frierson, it’s hard to see any scenario in which the CSAC gets shut down. I can see a scenario, however, where if the financial problems are grave for the CSAC that everyone but Frierson is ousted and that the CADEM machine puts new blood in to buy some time.
However, what would the future of the California State Athletic Commission look like if a non-partisan, independent investigator examined the problems the CSAC is currently facing? Would that investigator recommend the commission be shut down? It’s hard to say what an independent examination would reveal, but I would imagine it would likely be a very mixed bag.
If a major scandal breaks out for the California State Athletic Commission in the coming years, it’s going to be a huge political mess for California Democrats. As our two investigative reports (on Monday and today) have revealed, the political fingerprints of the CADEM machine are all over the California State Athletic Commission. There’s no escaping this reality.
The truth is that the problems the CSAC is facing right now require a full-time effort. Given that Chairman Frierson is habitually running for various political offices, it’s very difficult (in our opinion) to come up with a rationale indicating that he is tackling the major problems of the CSAC full-steam ahead.
A question we would love to ask the commissioner: If the problems the CSAC are facing require you to take a leave of absence from Los Angeles to Sacramento to manage the situation on a full-time basis, would you be willing to give up all of your other political activities in order to ensure that you’re giving a 100% effort to help out the California State Athletic Commission?
The bottom line about the future of the California State Athletic Commission is what the outcome of their success or failure means for combat sports in California. If the state Senate one day decided to use a sunset provision to phase out the commission as an active body, would that mean that the CSAC would simply be a tax/revenue collector and nothing more for promoters? Would it mean an end to big boxing & MMA fights in the State? As big and as challenging as these questions are, they are very valid questions to ask given the commission’s history of scandals and what their regulatory future looks like — especially if an all-out political battle ensues between factions of the CADEM machine over AB2100.
Chairman Frierson has built one hell of a political career and is now in a high profile political position that impacts the health & safety of fighters. Given the financial situation that is on his hands with the California State Athletic Commission, it’s time for the Chairman and his political backers to put up or shut up.
Amusingly, the silence from certain quarters in regards to our investigation has been deafening.