Thu. Oct 6th, 2022

Paid Republican power couple Matt and Laura Cunningham



Did you know that paid Republican consultant Matt Cunningham is now writing so-called “community Editorials” on the Voice of OC?  That’s right.  Apparently he is part of the Voice of OC’s new Community Editorial Board.    I discovered this when I saw his byline on a post defending Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray, who got caught, by the Voice of OC, casting a City Council vote earlier this year to approve a report by a subsidiary of Willdan Group, a consulting firm that employs her as its senior vice president, city records show.

According to the Voice of OC’s “About Us” page, “First and foremost, Voice of OC focuses on accountability in government, not the process of government.”  And their stated mission is “To hold government agencies, elected officials and other power brokers in Orange County accountable through investigative news coverage. And to be a catalyst in the community for a robust and sophisticated discourse on local politics and government.”

It is hard to imagine who Cunningham fits into that equation.  This is the guy who outed victims of molestation by Catholic priests, while he was being paid to shill for Monsignor John Urell – a man of the cloth who ran interference for molester priests.  Cunningham posted an unredacted legal document – that he should not have had access to, on the failed “Friends of Urell” website, and in the process he outed the molestation victims, whose names appeared in the court document.

Cunningham also founded the Red County blog – a website devoted to defeating Democrats and promoting Cunningham’s clients and pals.

And he proudly supported the anti-gay Prop. 8 – which made gay marriage illegal in California.  The scheme was concocted to help elect John McCain, in 2008, to the U.S. Presidency.  In fact Cunningham’s wife, Laura, also worked on Prop. 8, as a “Hispanic Outreach Coordinator.”  It worked. Latinos and blacks voted for Prop. 8 – but then it failed as they also voted for Barack Obama, not McCain.  Laura is now the new Chief of Staff to O.C. Supervisor Bill Campbell, who is a lame duck on his last term, thank God.

If you want to know who the other members of the Voice of OC’s Community Editorial Board are, don’t bother wasting your time looking for this information on their website.  They have not posted the names of their Community Editorial Board.  And if you try to post a Letter to the Editor, using the form they provide, well good luck.  That doesn’t work either.  If you want to post an editorial on the Voice of OC, you have to be on their Community Editorial board.

I won’t bore you with the details of Cunningham’s lame defense of Murray.  Instead, here is how a REAL activist, Shirley Grindle, summed up Murray’s faux pas, in a comment she posted on the Voice of OC, “It is incumbent on all elected officials to be fully aware of what they are voting on in order to avoid voting on something in which they have a conflict of interest. Ignorance is no excuse!. Kris Murray should have asked the FPPC in writing whether or not she had a conflict of interest in this matter and she should have done this before voting on the Willdan issue. If the FPPC advised her that she did have a conflict, then she would have been required by law to publicly declare her conflict at the council meeting, recuse herself from voting or attempting to influence the vote, and leave the room. Maybe next time.”

If anyone ought to be on the Voice of OC’s Community Editorial Board it is Grindle, not the GOP paid hack Cunningham!

By the way, Cunningham isn’t the only Republican throwing his weight around now at the Voice of OC.  Their Board of Directors now includes two Schwarzenegger Republicans – John Cruz and Mario Rodriguez.  But wait, it gets worse.  Bad enough that former State Senator Joe Dunn chairs their board, even though he runs a law firm in Sacramento that well, lobbies our legislators.  Their board also includes Wylie Aitken, a powerful trial lawyer who makes a living suing companies; and Robert Magnuson, a guy who gets paid to advise governments and corporations (yes, he is the 1%); Stanley Tkaczyk, a past chairman of the Orange County Waste Management Commission and past president of both the California Refuse Removal Council and the Solid Waste Association of OC – yes a rich garbage expert; and four more lawyers.   The only Voice of OC board members I can at all buy into are Daniel Weintraub and Henry Weinstein, actual journalists.

The Voice of OC has done some good work this past year, but putting the likes of Cunningham on a Community Editorial Board that is hidden from public view is not a step in the right direction.

UPDATE:  One of our readers spotted a list of the Voice of OC members in an old article of theirs.  Here are the members of the Voice of OC’s Community Editorial Board:

  • Lucy Dunn, Orange County Business Council
  • Rusty Kennedy, Orange County Human Relations Commission
  • Jennifer Muir, Orange County Employees Association
  • Matt Cunningham, Pacific Strategies
  • Tony Bedolla, Orange County Professional Firefighters Association
  • Anne Olin, The Olin Group
  • Tefere Gebre, Orange County Labor Federation
  • Gene Howard, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Orange County
  • Dan McQuaid, OneOC
  • Julie Puentes, Hospital Association of Southern California
  • Rick Stein, Arts Orange County
  • Adam Probolsky, Probolsky Research
  • Eric Altman, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development
  • Michael Ruane, Children & Families Commission of Orange County
  • Jean Pasco, the Orange County Archives
  • Jose Moreno, Los Amigos of Orange County host and Anaheim City School District board member
  • Mike Matsuda, North Orange County Community College District board member
  • Nick Anas, Orange County Young Democrats
  • Jon Fleischman, FlashReport
  • Ava Steaffens, KidWorks
  • Pam Pimentel, Moms Orange County
  • Rueben Martinez, Libreria Martinez
  • Christine Iger, Iger & Associates Government Interface Consultants

You can see that Cunningham brought along some of his GOP pals. And there are quite a few union types and insider Democrats on the list as well as a few folks from the non-profit community. I don’t think paid GOP consultants and union advocates have any place on this board. But what do you expect from the Voice of OC, which was funded by the OCEA and has now been infected by Cunningham and company. Disturbing.

The article in question also states the mission of this bunch, “The vision for the Voice of OC Opinion page is to provide an online forum spurring robust debate among community leaders about the issues of the day with an aim toward finding real-world solutions to the toughest issues facing taxpayers and our collective quality of life.”
Are Cunningham and his fellow paid GOP hacks community leaders? Really?

I think if I was going to put together a panel of REAL community leaders in the OC it might include:
  • OC activist Shirley Grindle – she wrote the Tin Cup ordinance that put limits on contributions to county politicians.  Now she is part of the Santiago Creek Greenway Alliance and is trying to finish the bike trail that runs through Santa Ana
  • Theo Hirsch – a Santa Ana artist who never fails to speak his mind
  • Retired Judge Jim Gray – a leader in the fight to end the stupid drug war and not a trial lawyer, like the stiffs on the Voice of OC’s board
  • Jeff LeTourneau – a leader in the OC gay community, a DPOC Central Committee member and a private investigator.
  • John Santoianni – an Anaheim Commissioner who is also a leader in the OC gay community.  He is a past candidate for the Anaheim City Council (and would have been a heck of a lot better for the community than the tool that is Kris Murray)
  • Rose Espinoza – La Habra Council Member and founder of non-profit “Rosie’s Garage”
  • Tony Bushala – founder of the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog (frankly you could take two or three of his bloggers and put them on the panel too!)
  • Larry Gilbert – a Mission Viejo community leader who recalled a horrible MV Council Member (who was of course an ally of Cunningham)
  • Jim Benson – my favorite OC Democrat and a heck of a nice guy.  He has worked on more campaigns than you can imagine.  Resident of Garden Grove.
  • Jan Horton – former Yorba Linda Council Member and a real progressive who manages to be sensible too.
  • Sean Mill – no one works harder to help the community in Santa Ana than Planning Commissioner Sean Mill – the very opposite of the limo liberals who hound him and continuously attack the Santa Ana City Council.
  • Hugh Nguyen – a County employee who has run for OC Clerk-Recorder and a leader in the OC Vietnamese community.
And there are so many more.  Not a one of them a paid consultant or a six figure non-profit or union executive…

By Editor

Art Pedroza started Orange County's first political blog, the Orange Juice, back in 2003. He now publishes the top civic blog in Orange County - New Santa Ana, plus other blogs including New Anaheim, New Fullerton and the Irvine News Blog, as well as the OC Politics Blog.

31 thoughts on “The Voice of OC’s Community Editorial Board is loaded with power elites”
    1. Thank you! But why Leonardo aren’t these Community Editorial Board members listed on the Voice of OC’s “About Us” page? Why the subterfuge or are they merely lazy?

  1. Hey Matt I hear that Penn State and Syracuse could use a man like you right about now. Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine liked the work you did for Urell.

  2. I DO like your list better than theirs. Probolsky? FLEISCHMAN?

    So, should we be cowering in the corner waiting for “community editorials” from the Fleshman on VOC now?

  3. “Let’s say they needed Republican voices. I would have suggested Allan Bartlett, Cynthia Ward, and yes, Bushala.”….. Hmmmm

    You are too smart for a bolshevik Nelson.

    Bartlett is same HOA socialist as is Gilbert.

    Who needs Democrats if we have Republicans.

  4. Matt, Answer your phone Damnit,

    Jaime has been calling all day. If you haven’t heard, check out the link:

    http://www.sacbee.com/2011/12/02/4094445/priest-jailed-on-suspicion-of.html

    We know these kids asked for it, same deal as last time, we’ll have the Vicar of Priests slip you the names of the families, you can publish them.

    Then these little bastards can get humilated to the point where there familes give up and drop the charges. I wanted to tell Soto he’s own his own, but he was intergal in our deal and Smith’s cover up of Ceasar’s kiddie porn.

    You’ll have to negociate the fee your self, but theres some GOOD catholic Girls schools in Sacramento, and it’s close to your brother. I heard he ran the SJCC into the ground, too bad, who’s he scamming now?

    Call Bishop Soto Matt……Oh and congrats to Laura, the last thing we need is more fags getting married, it hurts donations.

  5. Connect the Dots: First 5 is a $500 million tax per year DYSFUNCTIONAL waste of money.

    MATT CUNNINGHAM

    1. AUDIO] First 5 Consultant receives $200 per hour for listening to radio KFI (May 7, 2010) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3-nP9Hxvjw&fe…!
    2. Time to End the Children and Families Commission’s Autonomy May 6, 2010 (http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/2010/time-to-end-the-children-and-families-commissions-autonomy/#comment-13984
    3. [AUDIO] First 5 Consultant receives $200 per hour for listening to radio KFI (May 7, 2010) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3-nP9Hxvjw&fe…!

    LOS ANGELES TIMES

    1. Audit prompts L.A. County to seek takeover of First 5 LA, October 25, 2011
    2. Leader of First 5 LA education agency resigns after heavy criticism , November 11, 2011
    3. First 5 LA’s embarrassment of riches, First 5 LA has an $800-million surplus, November 16, 2011
    4. First 5 LA ex-chief to get sizable severance despite having quit, November 25, 2011 ($240k+ when not allowed by her contract)
    http://discussions.latimes.com/20/lanews/la-me-first-five-20111125/10 – the link to the discussions

    ACTOR ROB REINER FORCED TO RESIGN (well, him and at least 12 others)

    1. Rob Reiner Busted In $23M Conflict Of Interest Scheme – Using Children’s Funds To Further His Personal Agenda
    http://cctimeswatch.blogspot.com/2006/03/rob-reiner-busted-in-23m-conflict-of_29.html \
    2. Meathead Money – Rob Reiner’s Additional Million
    http://maxine-log.blogspot.com/2006/05/meathead-money-rob-reiners-additional.html
    3. Rob Reiner’s Fraud Based “First 5″; Tens of Millions of $$ Not Accounted For in LA
    http://capoliticalnews.com/2011/10/29/rob-reiners-fraud-based-first-5-tens-of-millions-of-not-accounted-for-in-la/

    RIVERSIDE (Riverside Press-Enterprise)

    1. Fair bidding?, December 15, 2008
    2. Changes urged for ‘dysfunctional’ First 5 Riverside commission , December 17, 2008
    3. First 5 Commission looks at perception of conflict of interest, February 25, 2009
    4. Riverside County supervisors want to make First 5 Riverside a county agency, March 17, 2009 (and then they did)

    SAN DIEGO (San Diego Union Tribune)

    1. Member of First 5 Commission steps down, June 3, 2009
    2. Deeper conflicts emerge in First 5 funding, June 4, 2009
    3. Glaring conflicts: First 5 grant program needs thorough overhaul, June 5, 2009
    4. First 5 tightens funding policies: New bylaws target conflicts of interest, June 30, 2009
    5. New rules prompt 9 to quit First 5 advisory panel, August 18, 2009
    6. First 5 spending plan has old ties, Sept 13, 2009
    7. Fix First 5 – now Use funds on health care, not belly dancing?, Nov 21, 2008

    FRESNO (Bee)

    1. Fresno Co. finds it hard to measure First 5’s results, Dec. 26, 2009
    2. Fresno Co. First 5 faces conflict-of-interest worries, Dec. 27, 2009

    SAN FRANCISCO (Chronicle)

    1. Not all First 5 grants are helping poor kids, Apr 19, 2008

    SACRAMENTO (Sacramento Bee)

    1. Kids panels hold $2 billion Sacramento Bee, January 17, 2008
    2. Program critics claim abuse, want to seize funds, January 13, 2009

    TULARE (Visalia Times-Delta)

    1. First 5 spends $18k on invitations for a $486 party, just weeks before election, Apr 21, 2009

    CALIFORNIA WATCH – Nonprofit, Nonpartisan – Founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting

    1. Children’s program balks at $1B in cuts, January 13, 2011
    2. Legislature looks to take $1B from First 5, bypass voters, March 10, 2011
    3. First 5 commissions sue over state budget, April 12, 2011
    4. More First 5 groups challenge state budget , April 14, 2011
    5. Brown sends mixed message on First 5 funds, May 19, 2011
    6. Pay for ‘First 5’ directors varies widely by county, September 18, 2011
    7. Director of First 5 LA resigns following audit, November 11, 2011

    OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST:

    • [VIDEO] $4 million is spent on a national cartoon show KCRA (11-18-08) – money not supposed to be spent outside of CA
    • $200K+ per year First 5 lobbyist Sherry Novick defends First 5 http://www.californiahealthline.org/Features/2009/Prop-1D-Called-Hobsons-Choice-for-Voters.aspx
    • Grand Jury report details problems at First 5 Contra Costa http://www.halfwaytoconcord.com/grand-jury-first-five-commission/
    • More observation on First 5 LA http://www.laobserved.com/intell/2011/10/health_agency_-_latest_black_e.php
    • $200 Million of Calif. Taxpayer’s Money Spent With No Accountability http://www.chicagonow.com/publius-forum/2011/10/200-million-of-calif-taxpayers-money-spent-with-no-accountability/

    click on my name for more information on Facebook Notes

  6. Connect the Dots: Matt Cunningham’s First 5 is a $500 million tax per year DYSFUNCTIONAL waste of money.

    OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST:
    • [VIDEO] $4 million is spent on a national cartoon show KCRA (11-18-08) – money not supposed to be spent outside of CA
    • $200K+ per year First 5 lobbyist Sherry Novick defends First 5 http://www.californiahealthline.org/Features/2009/Prop-1D-Called-Hobsons-Choice-for-Voters.aspx
    • Grand Jury report details problems at First 5 Contra Costa http://www.halfwaytoconcord.com/grand-jury-first-five-commission/
    • More observation on First 5 LA http://www.laobserved.com/intell/2011/10/health_agency_-_latest_black_e.php
    • $200 Million of Calif. Taxpayer’s Money Spent With No Accountability http://www.chicagonow.com/publius-forum/2011/10/200-million-of-calif-taxpayers-money-spent-with-no-accountability/

  7. By the way, Mike Ruane, of the Orange County First 5 Children and Famailies Commission, takes home a comp package of over $300K per year – – just sayin’

  8. It sounds like you have the makings of a great community editorial board of your own, Admin. Why don’t you go ask any of those people if they would be interested in joining you?

    As for the Voice, you have also shown that they have a pretty broad group of folks on their board as well. So, I don’t see what your beef is.

    The VoC was, in fact, assisted by a larger community than just OCEA -as some people like to think- in getting started. It only takes one look at their “About Us” page to see the makeup and slant of their news agency. So, there are no real revelations in your article.

    Matt Cunningham’s article was what I would expect from a conservative trying to cover for another conservative (or priest pedophile). But, did you really expect different? And, even if he was not on the editorial board, he might have sent a “letter to the editor” which would probably have been published and it would have been featured on the front page as well. So would any retort you may have.

    Not listing the resumes of the Editorial Board on their website is, in my opinion, a major faux pas as it would have eliminated half your argument in this article. Next time I see Adam or Dave I will ask them to fix it.

    1. Thanks Jeff. It would be a good fix. These guys always cry about transparency but then they aren’t transparent themselves.

      The issue I have with this Community Editorial board of theirs is that it is packed with elitists. These are not community leaders at all. Even the non profit crew is paid directors, not activists.

  9. I don’t see this board as elitist at all. Reference may head up the local labor fed but he is far from elitist. Would you fault Joe Dunn for his success as a lawyer or politician? No more so than Grindle, who has made her fame off the TINCUP ordinance. This board actually has more Republicans than I would expect.

    I do like the idea of having Judge Gray on their board, though. Every good group needs a Libertarian.

    Any chance we can lose the moderation of my comments? I think I’m pretty well known by now.

    1. This board is full of wealth executives, paid consultants etc. It is the 1%. Dunn included as he is a paid lobbyist at this point.

      I have to moderate the comments due to the crazed attacks that are launched by anon commenters but don’t take it personally. I appreciate your input!

  10. Admin you’re just jealous you aren’t making “Cunningham ” money both of you are sellouts he’s just more successful at it.

    1. I have a full time job in occupational safety. Blogging is just a hobby.

      Choosing to work with my city council isn’t selling out. It is how you get things done in this town.

  11. First, I have no agenda about Prop 8 itself personally, BUT, because people have raised the question as to why Rob Reiner (Meathead) would be interested in making a movie about Prop 8, here’s another view.

    Rob Reiner is the progenitor of California’s First 5 Commission, a completely dysfunctional organization (see my Facebook notes for researched documentation – 25+ articles, 12+ resignations, and at least 2 grand jury investigations can’t be wrong – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002221479892&sk=notes).

    Rob Reiner was himself forced to resign from the CA First 5 Board after clear conflict of interest problems and misspending $20+ million.

    So – what’s the connection? Kris Perry is the Executive Director of First 5 California. Kris Perry is also one of the 4 named complainants in the Prop 8 lawsuit.

  12. Thanks guys! I am just sick of this so-called effective agency. The only real money grab happening at First 5 is the daily mis-use of funds by Commissioners. In a recent year in Riverside, the Commissioners received 77% of the money.

    You just have to ask why it still exists. I think we need to broadcast this information as far and as wide as we can. There seems to be a specifically organized effort to social engineer attitudes, using public money to get there.

    I would have no problem if private philanthropy wanted to pay for babysitting, belly dancing and Jelly Belly tours. I have a HUGE issue with public tax dollars going for these things, and THEN, to have L.A. First 5 not be able to account for $200 MILLION is just atrocious.

  13. I don’t know where Archie is, and I am not sure he’s the solution because he kept letting Sivic (sp?) come back over to visit. What we need to do is kick First 5 to the curb permanently.

    If when you take the shine off the apple and find it 75% infested with worms, what do you do?

    You toss the whole thing and don’t think twice.

    We’re at that point with First 5.

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