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Why it’s possible UFC will get involved in CSAC chaos

By Zach Arnold | July 18, 2012

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When I read the full-throated spin from the Department of Consumer Affairs about the chaos at the California State Athletic Commission, I wanted to vomit. It’s sickening to see DCA pushing spin that is so laughable and so egregious that it can be easily challenged by anyone with a brain. However, DCA has not been challenged very often over the years in the press, especially by anyone the fight media. Sure, DCA had their meltdown a few years ago with The Los Angeles Times over a nursing board scandal and then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had to clean house. However, DCA in large part never gets challenged in the political press. They never get challenged by the sports media, either. After all, why would anyone in the press care about a bunch of bureaucrats that are largely faceless to the public?

I can assure you that, despite DCA’s weak and trollish spin that is on display in articles like this, the atmosphere right now at Sacramento headquarters is atrocious. The top players in DCA management are allegedly questioning the loyalty of each other. Government lifers are worried about who is currently backstabbing others in the office and who will be the next to turn. They are paranoid beyond belief. As I’ve stated in past articles on this web site, DCA never expected any press coverage regarding their business dealings… especially for an athletic commission.

How paranoid are things at DCA HQ? Consider the following. A source on background with knowledge of CSAC office inner workings claims that the Department of Investigation, DCA’s unit of bloodhounds, has confiscated hard drives of those at CSAC and is combing through any and all electronic material they can to discover leads that could help them out with such mysteries as media moles. DOI claims they can get away with this thuggish tactic by claiming that they have the right to confiscate materials from public employees. However, the real reason they get away with this kind of behavior is because they haven’t been challenged in court. It’s not necessarily a new tactic from DOI, unfortunately. They’ve pulled this stunt before on past CSAC employees who they wanted to jettison out of town, fairly or unfairly. It’s abusive.

It’s also a sign that confidence at the Department of Consumer Affairs is totally shaken. Their confidence has been shaken by the CSAC board members who fought back against their power play to terminate George Dodd at the 6/26 El Monte hearing. As we demonstrated recently, DCA got their revenge in spades against those who didn’t carry out their orders. DCA’s confidence has also been shaken by the fact that we’ve been covering their internal politics and naming names.

On Wednesday, we laid out the road map for the political players who are causing chaos at the California State Athletic Commission. The list of names reads like a who’s who of the major politicians in CADEM (the California Democratic Party). Darrell Steinberg, Governor Jerry Brown, Denise Brown (DCA boss), and Karen Chappelle (California deputy AG). By revealing all of the fingerprints from the major political players in California in regards to the chaos at CSAC, we wanted to show you just how vulnerable certain individuals are based on the whims of politicians who have no desire to protect the best interests of the fight game and have every interest in advancing not only their own careers but the careers of political fixers.

The development of key political players like Darrell Steinberg & Governor Jerry Brown being involved directly or indirectly with the mess at CSAC is an important news item to highlight for a reason. It’s a revealing development when you juxtapose it to what recently happened in California for the political battle over AB2100.

As Dan Morain of The Sacramento Bee laid out in his July 1st article, the Fertitta family spread a lot of money around to various politicians & lobbyists to kill the legislative process for passing AB2100. A major reason for Fertitta family power in California is because of the money they have invested in Indian casinos. The Teamsters and other unions have their own money in pensions tied up to the fortunes of Indian gaming. Money talks and the Fertitta family knows how to push the right buttons in Sacramento. Dan pointed out that Zuffa gave CADEM $15,000 in mid-May and gave Governor Jerry Brown $50,000.

If Zuffa got worked up over AB2100, you can only imagine how interested they will be in the fortunes of the California State Athletic Commission and the regulatory climate in California. Actions speak louder than words and Zuffa knows California is still an important cog in their future business plans.

Which leads us to what is about to happen to CSAC thanks to its political decimation at the hands of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Governor Jerry Brown’s office, and the state Senate’s Rules Committee led by Darrell Steinberg. If you are the UFC and you see the power vacuum that has been created at CSAC, you can look at it as a chance to grab some additional political power in California in order to ensure that the regulatory terms are most favorable to your business needs for running major shows in the state.

An educated person might suspect that UFC is interested in pulling some strings to see if they can mold the future of CSAC, if DCA wants to keep it alive. As we reported over the last couple of days, the Department of Consumer Affairs is interested in gutting the CSAC office in Sacramento so that they only have employees at the office based on seniority for working for the state of California as opposed to actual experience in the fight business. This would mean that individuals like Sarah Waklee, who work at CSAC and also works as an inspector at various shows throughout the state, would likely be a goner.

However, we have heard Waklee’s name bandied about over the last week after she appeared with inspector Che Guevara at the UFC event (Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman) in San Jose at HP Pavilion. According to a CSAC source, there is an impression in some Sacramento political circles that UFC would be interested in seeing Waklee groomed to become the next Executive Director of CSAC. Despite the fact that she has various detractors, she’s 33 years old and really likes her job. To paraphrase why UFC would be interested in having her as the new Executive Director at CSAC, one Sacramento source framed it this way: she could be a target that UFC could try to persuade and influence.

Just remember… former CSAC Executive Director Armando Garcia now works for the Fertitta empire.

There are so many questions regarding why DCA, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, Denise Brown, and a host of others are acting the way they are right now about CSAC. It would be a fascinating scenario to see how DCA would react to UFC throwing around cash if they thought they would manipulate or steer the process as to who DCA and Governor Brown would pick as the next Executive Director at CSAC. Given that the biggest names in Sacramento already have their fingerprints on the mess at CSAC, it’s not just a money play that is motivating the decision making process.

If you are UFC, would you be willing to get involved in such a toxic political climate in order to try to shake things up in order to influence who the next DCA puppet will be at CSAC? Zuffa wasn’t afraid to spread the wealth around with lobbyists and politicians over AB2100. The power vacuum in Sacramento might prove to be an opportunity for the boys in Las Vegas to really flex their political muscle in the state and to protect turf that is of importance to their yearly show schedule.

Topics: CSAC, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 9 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

9 Responses to “Why it’s possible UFC will get involved in CSAC chaos”

  1. CosmicCharlie says:

    Sarah would be the first honest executive director since the regulation of MMA. It would be unusual for California state politicians do something like that.

  2. DaveH says:

    I’ve dealt with Sarah at numerous shows in Northern California over the past few years and as far as i’ve seen, she has treated everyone with fairness and professionalism. I think she would be a great fit for the position. Professionalism is the key word, everyone from the club level fighter to the top dogs in the UFC get treated the same by her and that has earned her the respect of all those she deals with. Let’s hope, for the sake of combat sports in California, the DCA makes a smart move and puts her in charge.

  3. Sean says:

    The problem with most things in state agencies stems from the ridiculous notion of seniority. Why would the DCA want someone with seniority but no knowledge of the workings of CSAC to be in charge? To be their puppets. Sarah would make a great executive for the reasons they list as her detractors, her age and her passion. Why wouldn’t you want someone who is younger and passionate about the sport to be in charge.

  4. Scotty B says:

    As a former licensed promoter in California who has moved out of State to continue promoting due to the policies of the former Executive Director, I could be tempted to return with my promotion if a professional person like Sarah Waklee took that office. She has been the “Lead” Inspector on a number of my events, and has always been firm but fair. I for one will keep my fingers crossed! The CSAC could only benefit from her leadership!

  5. Aaron P says:

    I am a current pro fighter in California and to read about the some of these things the former Executive director has done is really upsetting. The CSAC is one of the largest forums for MMA in this country and should set a precedence for how things are getting done. Sarah Waklee has been nothing but fair and honest straight across the board in all of my many dealings with her and the CSAC. Putting all politics aside, I think she is the clear choice for taking over the Executive director position, and re-claiming the CSAC as the elite organization for MMA in the country. She has always been fair, firm, and completely dedicated to her job at the events I have attended and competed in. She is the future of CSAC’s MMA department.

  6. Zach Arnold says:

    I’m glad to see Sarah’s family and friends make an appearance here.

    • The Gaijin says:

      LOL – I was about to say…maybe I’m being cynical, but it just odd to see the number of glowing comments. Perhaps she really is that good though, so if that’s the case then more power to her.

  7. […] Kevin Bacon-esque six degrees of separation item – Sarah Waklee, the CSAC inspector who UFC is allegedly very supportive of in terms of advancement at the commission, happens to rent a condominium from… Bill […]

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