Snooping, Threats, and Political Favors: Voice of OC Obtains Shocking Claims of Corruption Against Westminster Officials
Voice of OC has uncovered shocking allegations against officials in the City of Westminster lobbed by its former police chief Kevin Baker.
The allegations come from an internal claim filed by Baker in April of 2016. The newspaper obtained the document on Friday, Dec. 22 as a result of a hard fought public records lawsuit against the city, which Voice of OC won.
Below are just some of the allegations made in the document that Voice of OC has obtained. Be sure to check out the entire article here.
Allegations Made by Former Westminster Police Chief Kevin Baker:
• Westminster council members operate like a “gang,” routinely using the police to go after local businesses affiliated with their political opponents.
• Councilmembers have used city personnel for personal benefit, with one councilwoman having police drive her to private events and calling on IT staff to fix her personal computer.
• In 2014, city resources were used to fix a water leak on private property belonging to a friend of a council member, prompting complaints from staff.
• There is a “secretive and oppressive” culture of spying and retribution within the city council whereby “threats and intimidation” are routinely used to maintain power and prevent whistleblowing. The culture of corruption is similar to that which once existed in the City of Bell, albeit more subtle, according to Baker.
• One councilwoman threatened to fire Chief Baker and other city employees for providing information to the FBI.
• That same councilwoman pressured police to drop criminal charges against her son.
• City staff is also concerned about the city attorney’s billing practices. Baker suggests favors are being exchanged for the council’s silence on the matter.
The city settled Baker’s claim for $500,000. As part of the agreement, he was required to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Despite the settlement, the city denies Bakers’ claims.
In addition to the settlement with Baker, the city has been ordered to pay $120,000 in attorney’s fees to the attorney for Voice of OC, Kelly Aviles, as a result of the public records suit.
“I hope this judgment serves as a reminder to every single public official in Orange County that this newsroom has the legal and financial ability to aggressively enforce its constitutionally protected First Amendment rights for public documents,” said Voice of OC publisher Norberto Santana, Jr. “In short, when you get a call from Voice of OC, give it up. It belongs to the public.”