Wendy Bucknum Campaign Update
Part 14, Don’t confuse politicking with public service
Wendy Bucknum, a professional lobbyist in the housing industry, is running for a Mission Viejo council seat in November. Previous articles in this series document Bucknum’s lobbying activities, the special-interest financiers who are donating to her campaign, how she gets endorsements from elected officials and the payoffs elected officials expect in return for supporting a lobbyist.
Last week on another blog ( https://www.facebook.com/missionviejocommonsense ), an acquaintance of Bucknum attempted to defend her. Articles on that blog have offered full disclosure on Bucknum’s voting record as a commissioner, her political entanglements as a lobbyist and the campaign donations she has taken from special-interest outsiders connected with her employer’s business. All the above information on Bucknum is available to anyone who researches it, and she is required by law to disclose who is funding her campaign for a city council seat. None of the information is “personal.” All of the disclosures comprise what a voter should know about candidates – who they are, what they do for a living and any conflicts of interest they would have when conducting city council business.
Before Bucknum’s acquaintance wrote on her behalf, he should have informed himself about Bucknum’s lobbying job, political connections, refusal to recuse herself from a commission vote in which she had a conflict of interest, and so on. Regarding his implication that Bucknum’s politicking is above a review, perhaps he is unaware of the personal attacks Bucknum made on residents and, particularly, the very personal and nasty hit piece against Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht when Bucknum was a candidate in 2012. A Political Action Committee supporting Bucknum spent $8,000 on the mailer, which consisted of personal attacks and lies.
Not only has Bucknum participated in nasty attacks, she’s been on the front line – writing verbiage, soliciting special-interest money to print and mail hit pieces, and delivering flyers door-to-door – and bragging about her participation. Her words are on the mailers that were distributed citywide – paid for by her circle of special-interest, out-of-town financiers. Public information on who paid for the attacks is readily available in state-required campaign financial reports. There’s no doubt about who did it, and more information is coming.
Bucknum’s defender who posted on the blog says that no one in Mission Viejo is more involved in community service than Bucknum. That’s ludicrous. Bucknum’s so-called community service prior to her campaign was limited to supporting her children’s school and sports and her employer’s special interest. Her activities mushroomed with her political campaign. That doesn’t mean Bucknum never offered a hand to anyone prior to running for office, but that doesn’t make anyone the “most involved resident in the community.” Currently, Bucknum is speaking at council meetings for practically every club, organization or activity in town. By contrast, those who are truly dedicated to a cause generally have only one or two organizations or activities. Bucknum’s announcements, either from the public microphone during council meetings or on her campaign website, cover 20, 30 or more activities.
From the same political playbook, City Manager Dennis Wilberg found a similar citizen to speak for him during a public relations crisis several years ago. “Evelyn” put her name on a letter to the editor of Saddleback Valley News. Evelyn praised Wilberg and his staff for their general wonderfulness. In the first place, how many sane citizens write letters praising city hall’s upper management? Second, the letter was published at the height of Wilberg’s P.R. nightmare. City administrator Keith Rattay got caught in a lie to a reporter about the costs of a city hall party. Evelyn was then pilloried in the press for weeks by other writers of letters, who presented facts contradicting her flowery claims about city hall. Wilberg and Rattay’s annual combined compensation is more than half a million dollars, and they have a team of taxpayer-paid P.R. writers at their disposal. They don’t need a citizen spokesman, but they occasionally bag one.
Flags should go up whenever city administrators or politicians are soliciting bystanders to “say a few words” on their behalf.