Amid bankruptcy, rising crime, mounting legal threats from political heavyweights, and now two separate scandals involving city councilmembers, the City of San Bernardino just can’t seem to catch a break.
Last Thursday, councilman and mayoral candidate Chas Kelley pleaded guilty to perjury in a set of charges related to campaign statements. Kelley was charged with spending campaign revenues on non-campaign expenses and then lying about it in official documents.
“My failure to properly report campaign expenses and contributions is a criminal violation that I am deeply embarrassed about,” Kelley said in a prepared statement. “Although I have already taken action to correct my campaign reporting errors, I nevertheless am taking full responsibility for my mistakes and accepting the legal consequences.”
Kelley willfully underreported contributions to the tune of almost $75,000 over a six year period.
Kelley added: “Some elected officials would choose to fight such matters in court to the bitter end, but I believe our city and our county have suffered enough from political controversy and that the proper course of action is resignation.”
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Kelley will spend 90 days in county jail weekend time or work-release and then serve five years of probation for his one count of felony perjury.
Kelley was elected in November 2003 and has won two re-elections since. He was currently running for the mayoral election to be held on November 5 when the charges came to light.
“It is shameful and unfortunate that Chas Kelley abused his position in this way. San Bernardino has enough problems to deal with. Our city shouldn’t have to be concerned about the legal conduct of its elected officials, especially when it comes to money,” remarked Steve Turner, president of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association. “Thankfully, Mr. Kelley is sparing the residents and taxpayers of San Bernardino greater hardship by admitting this crime, resigning from the City Council, and dropping out of the mayor’s race.”
In an unrelated case, City Councilman Robert Jenkins was also charged Thursday with 18 felony and 12 misdemeanor counts of stalking and identity theft related to his ex-boyfriend and another man.
Jenkins placed fraudulent personal ads seeking sexual partners on Craigslist. The ads contained personal information and photos of both the ex-boyfriend and another unnamed man. According to a district attorney’s affidavit in support of an arrest warrant (obtained by the Press-Enterprise), the ads “resulted in the victims being barraged with sexually graphic messages, and numerous individuals appearing at their residence seeking group sex.”
Investigators tracked Jenkins through IP addresses traced back to computers at both his work and his parent’s house in Lone Pine. Jenkins’ email and phone numbers were also used to post the ads.
Jenkins is also charged with misusing official San Bernardino police letterhead, stemming from an incident where Jenkins issued an official memo in response to a claim of Internet harassment.
Jenkins taught special education at a Riverside high school from March 2004 until August of this year when his teaching credential expired. He has served on the San Bernardino Council since a 2011 special election and is up for re-election on November 5.
Jenkins posted a $25,000 bond Thursday morning and will be arraigned on December 17.
Each of these scandals comes in light of CalPERS’ pledge last week to fight San Bernardino’s court-sanctioned bankruptcy status.
In July 2012, the city of just over 200,000 in Southern California’s Inland Empire filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, making it the largest city to do so at that the time. This distinction was eclipsed by Detroit earlier this year.
After a federal court ruled in late August that the city is eligible for relief under Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code, it has been speculated that CalPERS (the city’s largest creditor) would appeal the decision. Last Thursday, CalPERS CEO Anne Stausboll confirmed that the organization will fight the city in an effort to protect the more than 1,700 retirees formerly employed by the City of San Bernardino currently receive a pension from CalPERS.
Know anything else about the embattled capital of the Inland Empire? Email Justin@PublicCEO.com with details.
View Kelley’s resignation letter below: