A Foreshadowing Flashback: Married Legislator Rented Spare Bedroom in Sacramento Home to Female Staffer
Another little birdie chirped to us some juicy information regarding Senator Sex Predator Tony Mendoza. We are still digging in and seeing what kind of meat is on that bone.
During the course of our investigation of this lead we stumbled upon a 2012 article in the Los Angeles Times which caught our attention. The article detailed how the real estate downturn hurt legislators who had bought homes in Sacramento and were now unable to afford the mortgages.
Patrick McGreevy writes about how Mendoza bought a three-bedroom home after the 2006 election for $463,000:
"If you bought property, property values would go higher," said the Democrat, whose main home is in Artesia. "So I figured as soon as I get there [Sacramento], I will buy the house."
Okay...nothing too big here so far. The article continues:
At least five have endured foreclosures or short sales. The others have hung on; to do so, at least three have depended on people who work for them — and in Mendoza's case, on a campaign donor as well.
Say whaaaat? Come again. Let me re-read this real quick.
Yep. It says what I thought it said. Legislators, even ones in dire financial situations, control the salaries of their employees and then have the ability to "rent" rooms and homes that they own to these said employees.
We don't think there is the potential for problems here? This doesn't exactly seem like an arms length transaction free from conflicts of interest, right?
Mendoza stated that he was upside down on his home by about $150,000.
A longtime campaign contributor, Cecy Groom, who is also his accountant, rounded up investments of $42,000 to help him keep the home on Soaring Hawk Lane.
In filings required by the state, Mendoza reported receiving $6,000 each from Groom's daughter and Beatriz Ricartti, a Los Angeles businesswoman who subsequently donated to Mendoza's political coffers. Covina physician Shura Moreno invested $30,000.
Moreno is under investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, and five employees of his East Los Angeles medical clinic await trial on charges of defrauding the state's Medi-Cal system, prescription fraud and other offenses.
Oh...it doesn't stop there. It gets even better.
The lawmaker also rented a room in the house to fellow legislators and to Gabriella Villanueva, whom he hired in November 2010 as a legislative assistant for $60,000 a year. Villanueva paid him $500 a month in rent.
Villanueva said there was no tie between Mendoza's giving her a job and her decision to rent from him, and she has since moved out, although she would not say when. She was hired just before a legislative pay cut was to take effect.
There are other examples cited in the article.
Come on. Who the hell are we kidding here? We are supposed to really believe there aren't any shenanigans here with these raises, promotions, hirings and their financial payments made to their bosses for housing?
The California legislature, and in particular the GOP leadership in the senate and the assembly, should take immediate steps to forbid legislators from renting rooms and homes to staffers.