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by Bruce Anderson, December 18, 2012
Still as crooked as a brokeback snake, Luke Breit, is again in the news. An occasional resident of Mendocino, and a former chief aide to then-assemblyman Dan Hauser, Breit was last in the news when the State of California paid a former state worker, a married woman, a large amount of money when it was established that Breit's persistent and unwelcome sexual advances drove her from her job.
Even by the sleazy standards of Sacramento, this guy stands out and, it probably goes without saying, got his political start here on the Northcoast back in the days of the Big Naked Piles, in which — furtive and grasping — Mendolib was born. Someone out there is certain to remember the details but, as I recall, Breit emerged from one of those piles with a pregnant 14-year-old. The Democrats of the Northcoast immediately saw his leadership potential, and Breit was soon launched and on his way to Sacramento. Breit and Chesbro! Class of '72!
Incidentally, and it all comes back to me now, I remember the fun we had at this newspaper when we spotted Breit, then at work for Dan Hauser, with an over-sized, gold-plated nameplate on his chest that said, “Luke Breit. Chief of Staff,” like he was adjutant to General Patton or someone. We soon had the great good fun of disrupting an event Hauser and his Chief of Staff threw for Willie Brown at the Mendocino Hotel, the glassed-in extension of the building that we bombarded with bullhorned insults for a merry couple of hours. Brown and the rest of that grisly crew were not amused, but we sure had a good time doing it. These characters had just conspired to undo Mendocino County's ban on the aerial applications of herbicides, undoing the will of Mendo voters in return for scads of cash from corporate ag, and by the goddess, we were there to let them know we were unhappy about it.
Back to Breit or, as he was known around the office, “Half” or “Halfie.” He's just agreed to a stipulated settlement with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) pegged to his admission that he and another pimp named Michael Gunter, acting as treasurers for Californians for Privacy, a political campaign committee created by them to legalize prostitution, diverted, to themselves, thousands of dollars intended for their noble effort. Dos Chulos also failed to maintain records and accounts and did not make required filings.
Some $3,000 in donations were diverted by Breit to his close friend, Allyssa Pierce, whom he met while she was wrapped naked around a fireman's pole at Centerfolds, a Sacramento strip club. Breit gave Ms. Pierce some non-profit cash for… well, we'll get to that. Breit's pal, Gunter, used $11,000 of the non-profit's donated funds to start his own business.
Breit claimed the payments to Ms. Pierce, doled out in $500 increments, were a “loan,” although there were no records to show the money was a loan, and Ms. Pierce certainly didn't consider the payments as a loan. But Breit says he ultimately and magnanimously “forgave” it, the money not being his to begin with, hence his magnanimity. Investigators, we can surmise, responded to this initial story of Breit's with a great big laugh.
AWARE that his explanations were being met with silent exclamations of “Bullshit!,” Breit then explained to FPPC investigators that he met Ms. Pierce when she was working as a stripper. He said he thought the money was going to pay for an attorney for a child support case, but soon had to amend that version of events to say he was pretty sure that Ms. Pierce “got a boob job and had another kid” with the money. Breit then denied paying his reconfigured lady friend the $3,000 in cash.
WHEN BREIT ISN'T gyno-gazing ringside at Centerfolds and other Sacto venues preferred by that city's Democratic Party pud-pullers, he functions as Chair of the Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party. He likes to be referred to as “the environmental conscience of the Democratic Party.” He milks this purely symbolic and self-appointed post in a variety of ways, simultaneously holding down a series of interlocking sinecures in state government from which he allies himself with an array of jive “non-profit” organizations.
Breit's resume includes Deputy Director of Member Services for former Assembly Speaker Hertzberg, Deputy Director of the California State Assembly Democratic Caucus, lobbyist for Forests Forever, and public relations consultant and lobbyist for Californians Against Waste, all of them devices for funneling money for Democratic Party interests, among them, apparently, lap dances.
The investigation into Breit's latest ripoff began when the Secretary of State referred the case to the FPPC. The charge was failure to file campaign finance statements. Breit told the investigators his non-profit committee of two did not keep records of contributors — no surprise there — because the money was raised at “cash-only mixers” where, according to Madam Breit, “working ladies would come and, you know, the guys would come to meet them.”
FPPC chair Ann Ravel tweeted that it was “the most amazing case involving improper use of campaign funds this year,” a statement only a life-long resident of a remote convent could make, but I guess we all have to at least pretend we're surprised at government hijinks.
The Democratic Party octopus reaches out to include the FPPC, which exists to protect the political bigwigs of both parties from full accountability for their financial crimes. In this case of The Two Pimps, instead of demanding a prosecution and jail time, the FPPC assessed nominal fines of $7,000 against Breit and Gunter's phony committee; $7,500 against Gunther and $9,500 against Breit for a total of $24,000. But when Breit's well-placed, lap-dancing customers got the FPPC to re-do their math, Breit and Gunter only owed $5,000 each.
The FPPC posted the following excerpt on its website: "CALIFORNIANS FOR PRIVACY, Luke Breit and Michael Gunter. Californians for Privacy is a state general purpose committee organized for the purpose of decriminalizing prostitution. Luke Breit was the treasurer of the committee from April 2008, through the termination of the committee, on or about November 9, 2012. Michael Gunter took over the treasurer duties from approximately June 2008, through approximately April 29, 2009, when Mr. Breit resumed the treasurer duties. Mr. Gunter and the committee failed to file an amended statement of organization regarding a change of the committee's treasurer; Between October 15, 2008, and March 11, 2009, Mr. Gunter caused the committee to make expenditures of campaign funds, which conferred a substantial personal benefit on him, for purposes other than directly related to a political, legislative, or governmental purpose; On or about December 2, 2009, Mr. Breit made a loan of committee campaign funds for purposes other than reasonably related to a political, legislative, or governmental purpose; the committee and Mr. Breit failed to timely file a semi-annual campaign statement for the reporting period January 1, 2010, through June 30, 2010, which was due by August 2, 2010; the committee and Mr. Breit failed to maintain the detailed accounts, records, bills, and receipts necessary to prepare the semi-annual campaign statement, for the reporting period of July 1, 2009, through December 31, 2009, to establish that the campaign statement was properly filed, and to comply with the campaign reporting provisions of the Act. $17,000 fine.”