Road map of CSAC chaos reveals fingerprints from California’s biggest politicians (Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, Denise Brown)
By Zach Arnold | July 18, 2012
In our Monday night article discussing the impending departure of George Dodd as Executive Director of the California State Athletic Commission, we dropped a number of items containing various insider baseball-ish situations. There have been various political & sports writers in publications like The Sacramento Bee and The LA Times that have purposely taken a pass on the implosion at CSAC because they don’t see the news value in reporting on the story. No matter how much you connect the dots and no matter how much they get what is going on, the press in California has largely been disinterested.
However, our Monday night article contained several major political names in California politics. As the story progresses about the role of the Department of Consumer Affairs decimating CSAC, it’s going to become more difficult for the writers who are on the sidelines to intentionally ignore and not report on what is happening.
In order for any sort of political scandal to have legs, you need some of the following elements:
- Illegal/criminal activity
- Fraud of taxpayer cash
- Politicians backstabbing each other
- High-profile politicians with star power that have future political aspirations
- Political decisions being made against the best interests of the state’s residents
- Complete & total incompetence that puts the health & safety of individuals at risk
In the case of DCA’s decimation of CSAC, all of these angles are covered.
Let’s focus on the political star power involved in this on-going scandal.
- Darrell Steinberg (California state Senate)
- Governor Jerry Brown (his office in Sacramento)
- Denise Brown (head honcho at Department of Consumer Affairs, appointed in January 2012 by Jerry Brown) & adviser Spencer Walker
- Awet Kidane, Brian Skewis, & Reichel Everhart (DCA’s #2, DCA ‘assistant budget analyst’, and DCA’s political bureau fixer)
- Anita Scuri & Doreathea Johnson (two primary names at DCA’s legal department)
- Karen Chappelle (long-time California deputy Attorney General)
We are going to limit our focus on these individuals. Plenty of more individuals could be named here, but we’re going to focus on these political players right now because each person named here has a direct role on what has happened with the chaos at the state Athletic Commission.
It is important to note that many officials at the Department of Consumer Affairs have deep political ties to politicians in the state Assembly and Senate. Look at the track records of officials and their previous work experience. You will see what I am talking about.
Why are so many political power players involved in the happenings of CSAC?
It’s a question that bewilders so many people, which is why they can’t grasp or get their hands around the story. Why would Darrell Steinberg, the Godfather of California’s state Senate, give a damn about an agency that generated $1.3M in revenue last year? Why would the highest management at the behemoth known as Consumer Affairs want to micromanage CSAC so badly? Why are so many of the state’s legal power brokers involved in manipulating the decision making of an athletic commission?
In short, there are two reasons why so many power brokers who have no interest in the fight game have their fingerprints all over the chaos at CSAC. First, DCA views CSAC as a dumping & transfer ground for employees that they need to move from other boards. It’s all about protecting the most-favored hacks who have been drawing a taxpayer-funded salary for decades. It’s about protecting individuals who have luxurious retirement pensions. Second, CSAC is something that politicians can make an example out of if they need to prove a point. Given that politicians love going to big fight shows in order to bring guests they are trying to schmooze with for building connections or new business dealings, it’s viewed more as an agency for social & political status than it is for anything else.
Once you comprehend and accept this as the rationale for why decisions are made, everything starts to fall into place and you can pick up on the logic of why people have been treated the way they have at CSAC.
Revealing the fingerprints on the decisions that have been made
We gave you a set of names. We gave you a list of various actions that have taken place for a good political story. Now, let’s connect the two lists together.
Darrell Steinberg: He is the Godfather of California’s state Senate, a man who could give New York Senator Chuck Schumer a run for his money as a master of media sound bytes. He loves power. He loves cameras. He heads California’s Rules Committee in the state Senate. When the Governor makes an appointment to a board or agency, the Rules committee has to approve of the appointment or else the appointment expires. In the case of Mike Munoz, who was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown last year to the CSAC board, he had one year on the board. In order for his full term to be completed, the Rules committee had to approve of his appointment. As we noted in our article about George Dodd’s resignation from CSAC, a source on background told us that the Rules committee let Munoz’s appointment expire because he didn’t vote to fire George Dodd at the now infamous 6/26 El Monte hearing. This was the same hearing in which DCA sent a dozen officials on the taxpayer’s dime at an estimated price tag of over $10,000 USD (travel alone was reportedly $7,500 or more).
The Senate’s Rules Committee has a lot of power. This is why the relationship between SRC and the Department of Consumer Affairs is an important link. DCA only answers to the Governor & Darrell Steinberg. We also noted in our article about George Dodd’s resignation (by a source on background) that Linda Forster, another Governor Brown appointee to CSAC last year, was allegedly told to get rid of Dodd. She supposedly pushed for Dodd’s firing in El Monte. However, when the other CSAC board members wouldn’t go along with her, she quit. Our primary source on background said that she quit because she wanted to protect her support from CADEM (California Democratic Party) for a future election race in her district.
Was she promised political support explicitly by CADEM in exchange for a vote to fire Dodd?
Governor Jerry Brown’s office: Our primary source on background noted that Darrell Steinberg’s rules committee (both Democrats & Republicans) allegedly sent a message through the Governor’s office that if CSAC board members didn’t terminate George Dodd’s career on 6/26 in El Monte that they wouldn’t get their appointments to CSAC approved. Either fire Dodd or else lose your appointment at CSAC.
Given the nexus between the state Senate, Governor Brown’s office, and DCA, it’s impossible to look at the decisions being made here and not connect the major players involved. Steinberg, Governor Brown, and DCA. All of them are micromanaging a state athletic commission that generates $1.3M in revenues a year. The absurdity of this knows no bounds, but it’s actually the reality on the ground.
Denise Brown: She was appointed by Governor Brown last January to take over as the head honcho of the Department of Consumer Affairs. She is a government lifer like the rest of the DCA crew. We’re talking decades, not years, of government experience here. Darrell Steinberg’s Rules Committee on July 2nd held a hearing to approve her appointment from Governor Brown. If Steinberg had voted against her, her career at DCA would have been finished.
Consider the timing here. A week before the 7/2 confirmation hearing, DCA sent their top officials to El Monte to get George Dodd terminated. They failed to do so. Once that failed on 6/26, notice that DCA did the 9 AM ambush fake emergency meeting on 6/30 in Sacramento. A source on background for our George Dodd resignation article claimed that DCA wanted a motion from CSAC which would have allowed them to directly fire Dodd as Executive Director instead of CSAC making the call. DCA allegedly wanted this as the condition for having their bureau fixer, Reichel Everhart, set up CSAC with a loan from the state’s General Fund. Making the situation even dicier is that Dodd supposedly wanted DCA to acknowledge that money was left at CSAC’s bank account and that the agency’s financial situation was improving. Our primary source on background indicated to us that DCA allegedly would not go along with Dodd’s request because it would have made getting a loan more difficult.
Once CSAC voted to keep Dodd as Executive Director at the 6/26 El Monte hearing, DCA did everything in their power to make life chaotic at CSAC. This isn’t supposition, either. How many articles have we written talking about fake emergency meetings and CSAC board members leaving? The public actions of DCA spoke volumes about the agency wanting revenge on CSAC for not getting Dodd fired. A primary source on background (for our Dodd resignation article) claimed that Denise Brown wanted Dodd out and that it would make her look like a tough boss at DCA for getting his termination or resignation. Sure enough, she had a confirmation meeting in front of Darrell Steinberg’s rules committee a week after the El Monte hearing — and got approved right after the 6/30 9 AM ambush CSAC loan hearing.
Awet Kidane, Brian Skewis, & Reichel Everhart: At the pecking order for DCA management, these individuals are a little beneath Denise Brown in terms of stature.
Kidane was the highest-ranking official from DCA out of the dozen people sent to El Monte on 6/26 to get George Dodd’s career terminated. At that hearing, Kidane claimed that DCA had met with George Dodd 18 times to discuss financial problems with CSAC. Kidane thought that this line of attack would convince CSAC that Dodd was negligent and inconsiderate about CSAC’s financial woes. Instead, it convinced the CSAC board members that DCA was constantly creating chaos for Dodd and making his job an almost impossible task. Furthermore, the CSAC board (outside of Jerry Brown SEIU loyalist Dean Grafilo & Linda Forster) believed that Kidane’s claim of DCA meeting with Dodd 18 times was not 18 meetings regarding CSAC’s financial woes but rather just 18 meetings in general about commission business.
Furthermore, when public comment got hot and heavy (despite a three minute comment time limit), Kidane was frustrated with the various folks who showed up in El Monte to speak up on Dodd’s behalf (as a tactic in their proxy war against DCA).
Brian Skewis, the assistant budget analyst at DCA, told the CSAC board several claims and the board members, by in large, didn’t believe what he was selling. The issue over whether or not CSAC still had funds in the bank by the end of the Fiscal Year was reportedly a bone of contention between Skewis & the CSAC board members. Remember, DCA claimed in their infamous insolvency letter (dated May 31st) that CSAC would be in the red by $35,000 for the start of the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year. Just like Kidane, the tactics Skewis used backfired in getting the job done.
Reichel Everhart, the DCA’s board & bureau relations fixer, was present at the ambush 9 AM 6/30 meeting that DCA called for CSAC in which they allegedly wanted a motion to fire Dodd in order to proceed with getting CSAC a loan. DCA didn’t get this motion.
Anita Scuri & Doreathea Johnson (two primary names at DCA’s legal department): We’re talking about lawyers at DCA who, combined, have drawn decades worth of paychecks.
Scuri has been around for a long, long, long time. At the June 4th San Diego hearing, she stepped away from DCA. However, on the June 30th 9 AM fake emergency meeting minutes, she is listed as being part of DCA’s legal office.
No one has flexed more legal muscle over more DCA boards for the longest of time than Anita Scuri. In many of the controversies involving legal advice ‘given’ to CSAC by DCA legal, you’ll see Anita Scuri’s name attached one way or another in terms of documentation. She was around when Armando Garcia ran the show and when he left Sacramento. She was around when Dean Lohuis was jettisoned out of CSAC, despite the fact that Che Guevara was the inspector who failed to get the job done when it came to inspecting Antonio Margarito’s hand wraps. Anita Scuri was around when veteran CSAC inspector Dwayne Woodard suddenly went from getting regular bookings to no more show bookings. Woodard has sued DCA & CSAC in a lawsuit claiming age discrimination & retaliation.
Doreathea Johnson also has her own interesting track record at DCA legal. She was on hand at the 6/26 El Monte hearing to try to get George Dodd terminated as Executive Director.
The reason Scuri & Johnson have had so much power at CSAC for many years is because DCA has had their legal department act as CSAC’s counsel rather than leaving CSAC alone to hire & appoint their own legal counsel. By using the legal department, DCA has managed to manipulate much of the decision making at CSAC. This was on display in last Sunday’s 9 AM stakeholders call where George Dodd said that he would have to run any suggestions from promoters through DCA legal.
Karen Chappelle: The deputy California Attorney General has a long track record with questionable decisions at CSAC that has made her vulnerable for intense scrutiny.
She was the one who signed off for millions of dollars of tax breaks for producers from both The Contender and The Next Great Champ reality boxing TV shows. As we documented recently, only a few months after this information was revealed in The Los Angeles Times, CSAC ended up having to get a $320,000 loan. This process soon led to then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger via DCA appointing Armando Garcia as CSAC’s new Executive Director.
Chappelle has a long, checkered past as presenting herself as a prosecutor-of-sorts at CSAC hearings. Whenever there is a fighter who fails a drug test, guess who shows up to essentially act as a prosecutor? Karen Chappelle. When there’s a contract dispute for boxers and the commission is supposed to act as an arbitrator, guess who shows up? Karen Chappelle.
I bring to you the case of Robert Guerrero, who had been with Goossen-Tutor Promotions and was headed to Golden Boy. The two boxing entities fought over the rights to Guerrero. The initial arbitration ruling by CSAC over the matter was thrown out of court because a judge (as characterized by Goossen-Tutor attorney Nomi Castle) ruled that California deputy AG Earl Plowman, who was supervised by Karen Chappelle, authored the arbitration position to let Golden Boy promote Guerrero. However, as the LA Times noted, Armando Garcia never signed the arbitration decision and instead Bill Douglas was the one who did. Castle told the Times that Chappelle & Plowman lied to the CSAC board about Armando Garcia signing off on the decision.
Bill Douglas ended up getting a lateral transfer from CSAC to the state’s Pest Control Board.
Goossen-Tutor issued a press release on the matter, highlighting the fact that a judge said that Plowman & Chappelle’s actions “was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means.”
“We lost the arbitration unfairly and we filed what would be the equivalent of an appeal because arbitration is done under the auspices of the State of California, and the California State Athletic Commission has a scheme for handling its cases through arbitration as opposed to a court,” Castle explained.
Goossen’s counsel, Farzad Tabatabai of Castle & Associates added: “Justice was done. The Court’s ruling correctly recognizes what should be obvious to everyone: an arbitration decision that is drafted by someone other than the arbitrator and signed by an outsider to the arbitration, without ever being seen by, reviewed by, or approved by the arbitrator, may not be binding on the parties. The question that remains to be answered is how CSAC and the Attorney General’s office allowed this to happen in the first place.”
Farzad is now the attorney for the retaliation & age discrimination lawsuit filed by Dwayne Woodard against DCA & CSAC.
Why the fingerprints from powerful politicians on CSAC chaos is important to highlight
There is no longer any sort of plausible deniability by the major political power brokers in the state of California as to why the Deparment of Consumer Affairs and their allies are decimating the California State Athletic Commission and creating a toxic environment for promoters in the state to run shows in. Nobody can trust each other any more in the state, thanks to the decision making of some very vindictive power brokers.
If the fish rots from the head, then it’s easy to explain why California combat sports is in the current financial shape it’s in if you look at the actions that have taken place at CSAC.
Remember, DCA sent CSAC an insolvency letter on May 31st in which they highlighted claims of on-going fraud. Instead of arresting or firing individuals involved in fraud that they allege is happening, they did absolutely nothing about it. When we highlighted why costs at CSAC for inspector salaries & in-state travel exploded, DCA reportedly decided to implement a policy at the CSAC office in Sacramento to keep people based on seniority of those working for the state as opposed to hiring or keeping individuals who are the most qualified to do the job in a very complex industry like the fight business. Unless you have real experience in the fight game and understand just what kind of knowledge you need to make the right decisions, you have no idea what you are doing if you are an outsider. There’s no manual at a business school you can read in order to pick up the knowledge you need to succeed.
And yet, what have we seen here with all the chaos at the California State Athletic Commission? It’s all being orchestrated by individuals who aren’t experienced in the fight game. Governor Jerry Brown. Darrell Steinberg, the Godfather of California’s state Senate. Karen Chappelle, the long-time Deputy Attorney General in Los Angeles. Denise Brown, the head honcho at the Department of Consumer Affairs. Along with underlings Awet Kidane and budget fixers Brian Skewis & Reichel Everhart, DCA is in an ultimate power-trip mode to destroy careers and livelihoods of those who don’t go along with the program of ensuring CSAC’s status as a transfer & dumping ground for government lifers from other boards & bureaus in the state. Anita Scuri & Doreathea Johnson at DCA legal may view themselves as the consiglieres and enforcers of carrying out what DCA wants done at CSAC. However, they have picked on too many people for too long and have left such a massive paper & electronic trail that eventually their actions will come back to haunt them in a big way.
I, for one, am glad in a way that we now have a road map of who is doing what to CSAC and why it’s being done. I’m bearish about the media getting involved in covering this scandal but very bullish about what is about to happen legally through the courts. Lawsuits will target these individuals. They can stay in denial about it if they want to, but the lawsuits are coming. That means depositions. They’re going to have to talk under penalty of perjury. Eventually, someone will screw up and not be able to keep their story straight. Once the lawsuit & deposition process picks up steam, these politicians & lawyers are going to have to make a choice. Do they preserve their own careers by turning on each other or do they take one for the team and become a sacrificial lamb? The individuals we named here in this article are going to have to make this calculation sooner rather than later.
- Investigation: The future of combat sports in California (May 6th)
- Investigation: How did (then) 80 year old scandal-plagued politician John Frierson get an important job promotion? (May 9th)
- The politics of MMA’s testosterone push & California’s coming collapse (June 7th)
- California State Athletic Commission on a path towards insolvency, could get shut down (June 10th, 2012)
- PDF report now online – Blame game: DCA, CSAC civil war (emergency 6/26 meeting set by DCA) (June 16th, 2012)
- DCA/CSAC civil war: Taxpayers & promoters get a raw deal in California (June 19th, 2012)
- DCA outlines potential CSAC fraud; Dodd out as Executive Director (June 22nd, 2012)
- Amidst DCA/CSAC civil war chaos, a second CSAC member (Brian Edwards) is gone (June 24th, 2012)
- Source – George Dodd prepared for showdown w/ DCA on Tuesday (June 24th, 2012)
- DCA, CSAC face retaliation & age discrimination lawsuit (June 25th, 2012)
- Explaining the motives of the DCA/CSAC civil war (June 26th, 2012)
- Civil war: CSAC keeps George Dodd (against DCA wishes) (June 26th, 2012)
- How the CSAC fought DCA’s power grab (June 28th, 2012)
- DCA’s illegal Saturday morning CSAC meeting (June 29th, 2012)
- Explaining why DCA’s Saturday CSAC hearing was illegal (June 30th, 2012)
- DCA’s new spin on illegal CSAC hearing doesn’t cut it (July 2nd, 2012)
- Incredible – DCA advising CSAC on getting a loan (July 6th, 2012)
- DCA preparing CSAC loan to help cover debt, some of which DCA admits was caused by fraud (July 9th, 2012)
- Horrible atmosphere at CSAC, strained promoter relations (July 12th, 2012)
- Notes from 9 AM CSAC stakeholders call (July 15th, 2012)
- George Dodd resigns at CSAC; DCA goes for full purge at CSAC (July 16th, 2012)