San Bernardino American News has uncovered the fact that convicted Felon William J. Postmus, former San Bernardino County Supervisor and Assessor, was tied to substantial campaign contributions to Hesperia City Council Member Paul Russ and loans to Hesperia City Council Member Rebekah Swanson, the source of the contributions and loans was Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC.
The campaign contributions from Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC came under scrutiny by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) when a complaint was filed by two Hesperia residents and the FPPC initiated an investigation on February 7, 2017, known as #2017-00082.
Additionally, two Hesperia Council Members came under scrutiny from the FPPC when complaints were filed by the same two Hesperia Residents and the FPPC opened investigations on September 2, 2016 into the campaign reporting of Hesperia City Council Member Paul Russ’s campaign for San Bernardino County Supervisor in 2016 referenced as File no. 16/374 and Bill Holland’s campaign for San Bernardino County Supervisor in 2016 referenced as File no. 16/375.
In an interview with San Bernardino American News, FPPC Communications Director Jay Wierenga responded that the three investigations are all “still open cases.”
San Bernardino American News was unable to confirm the legal filing for Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC with the California, Nevada or Delaware Secretary of States and the address listed by the campaign of Hesperia City Council Member Rebekah Swanson was discovered to be a UPS Store at the Victorville Mall, led to a hunch that these contributions/loans could be alleged campaign money laundering.
Campaign money laundering is where a campaign contribution is made “in a name other than the name by which such person is identified for legal purposes,” a violation of California Government Code Section 84301, a misdemeanor.
When a national search of limited liability companies was conducted, Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC was discovered to be a Wyoming limited liability company with William J. Postmus as a member.
William J. Postmus was disgraced when he pleaded guilty through the signing of a plea agreement admitting guilt to numerous felonies including conspiracy to commit crime, public official receiving a bribe, conflicts of interest, and embezzlement in what is known as the “Colonies Scandal.”
Postmus has been awaiting sentencing after his cooperation and testifying in the criminal trial of developer Jeffrey Burum, former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane, former assistant county assessor and sheriff’s labor union president James Erwin and the former top aide for former San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt, Mark Kirk.
Burum, Biane, James Erwin and Kirk were found not guilty by two juries on Monday, August 28, 2017, after the juries reviewed evidence and heard testimony, including the testimony of Postmus. Now Burum, his business Colonies Partners, LP, Erwin and Kirk are suing San Bernardino County and the San Bernardino County District Attorney for millions of dollars and Postmus is asking the court to withdraw his plea at a November 2, hearing asserting according to news reports that he was addicted to drugs, under duress and coerced by investigators.
William J. Postmus, disgraced former San Bernardino County Supervisor and Assessor, using his membership position in Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC channeled $3,300 in loans to Rebekah Swanson for Hesperia City Council 2016 Committee and $5,000 in contributions to Russ for Supervisor 2016 Committee.
Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC also has ties to Hesperia City Council’s newest member Jeremiah Brosowski, appointed to the Hesperia City Council on July 11, 2018, in that Brosowski reported receiving over $10,000 up to $100,000 from Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC listed on Brosowski’s Economic Interest Statement as a source of income along with Tony Strickland Consulting, Inc.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times in 2016 former California State Senator Tony Strickland, a Senior Consultant of MJ Real Estate Investors, was accused of 16 violations of campaign finance law, including political money laundering and the filing of false statements. In May 2016, Strickland agreed to pay a $40,000 fine.
Additionally, Rebekah Swanson found herself the target of an FPPC enforcement action when it was revealed in an October 18, press release that Rebekah Swanson, the treasurer for her husband’s campaign for Hesperia School Board, neglected to timely file five semi-annual campaign statements. Swanson reached a “streamline settlement” with the FPPC agreeing to pay a fine of $1,045.
Turning back to Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC, Mountain States Consulting Group, an entity located in the State of Wyoming, reported their address as Mall Blvd, Ste 188, Victorville, CA 92392-7665, a post office box at a UPS store at the Victorville Mall.
FPPC Communications Director Jay Wierenga explained, under California Government Code Section 84211(f)(2), “a committee must report an actual street address for a contribution (not a PO box).”
When San Bernardino American News presented the situation of these campaign contributions from Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC to California Common Cause, Policy and Legal Director for the organization Nicolas Heidorn speculated, “If it’s true that a donor is secretly sending money to a candidate through a sham third party, that would be highly illegal.”
Heidorn explained that California “requires transparency in campaign donations so that the voters know who is supporting candidates” and that transparency is crucial “to promote accountability, should donors later seek special favors from the candidates they helped elect.”
The channeling in of campaign funds from an entity with convicted felon Postmus as a member to campaigns in the City of Hesperia where its city council is tasked with approval of a number of large development projects in particular, the controversial Tapestry Project in Summit Valley, find Hesperia Resident Al Vogler believing the developers are trying to stack the deck at the Hesperia City Council, the Hesperia Recreation and Park District and the Hesperia Unified School District in order to gain waivers of customary development requirements.
Vogler is suspicious of the sources of the substantial amount of campaign money flowing into the campaigns for City Council, the appointment of Jeremiah Brosowski under suspicious circumstances, the deceptive responses of city council members when asked about Jeremiah Brosowski’s appointment, the alleged recent bullying of City of Hesperia employees, and the close relationships some of the city council members have with local development and marijuana interests.
When attending the July 11, Hesperia City Council Meeting where Brosowski was appointed, Vogler recalled developer Dino DeFazio, Ghulam Farooq with ties to the marijuana industry and possibly also former Hesperia City Council Member Bill Jenson absent from the meeting.
Vogler confirmed he heard from witnesses in the lobby who observed DeFazio, Farooq and possibly Jenson speaking with Brosowski prior to questions being posed to Brosowski and other applicants by the City Council in consideration of his appointment. Vogler suspects DeFazio, Farooq and possibly Jenson provided the questions and advice to Brosowski giving him with an advantage over other applicants.
After hearing from the applicants to fill the vacant city council position left open by the passing of Russ Blewett, Council Member Paul Russ then nominated Brosowski with Rebekah Swanson seconding the nomination.
Vogler then requested the July 11 video footage from the security cameras located in the lobby to confirm the statements provided to him by his sources. The City of Hesperia claimed the security footage is set as an endless loop and recorded over within 48-hours causing the footage from July 11, unattainable.
Then Vogler attended three subsequent meetings of the Hesperia City Council posing questions about the suspect appointment of Brosowski to council members and according to Vogler receiving no answers at two meetings and receiving one generalized answer from Holland at one meeting leaving remaining questions unanswered.
Additionally, Vogler wonders whether Postmus’ campaign contributions/loans made through Mountain States Consulting Group, LLC and violating California Government Code would be considered a violation of the terms of Postmus’ plea agreement, which includes requirements that Postmus to violate no laws.
San Bernardino American News emailed questions and requested comment from Hesperia City Council Members Paul Russ, Rebekah Swanson and Jeremiah Brosowski receiving no response by the deadline given to them.