I like the concept on the surface – Jim Brulte, reasonably conservative, widely known, access to lots of donors, former legislator, influential… for Chairman of the California Republican Party (CRP)
I think Brulte would succeed in raising money. Duf Sundheim knelt to Arnold and left the CRP in a $4million hole that Ron Nehring struggled to plug. Tom Del Becarro presided over blowing $4million on Prop 40 that was later abandoned by Consultant Dave Gilliard once it appeared there was no more money to be made. (Gilliard is reported to have made $200k off the deal anyway)
In the years I have been involved in the CRP – I have seen the legislators abandon the CRP because of incessant in-fighting. Even in Placer County, it appears that one of the members of the Placer GOP filed a campaign finance complaint against the committee itself to gain political advantage.
Jim Brulte in theory could cure the chasm between the CRP and the legislators.
There is a smaller problem, the position is unpaid. There has been a culture in the CRP that the Chairman is something of a volunteer and is not paid – the idea being to establish separation between the donors/legislators and the leadership of the party. I have been told that Brulte would only serve if paid. This would require a 2/3 vote to adopt a by-law amendment unless there was the same kind of game-playing that occurred when the CRC was chartered.
The larger problem for Jim Brulte is the ongoing FBI investigation that has two of his former consulting clients under charges and a San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Baine under charges. Former SB Sup Bill Postmus pled guilty, served time and is cooperating with the investigation. There is a trial coming in January for corruption and Brulte will undoubtedly be called to testify.
Brulte is up to his neck in this. Will his involvement give the CRP a further Black Eye?
Take a look at this story of intimidation published last year. The background is that another person involved in this case was being blackmailed with pictures that were allegedly taken when the victim was drunk and was then blackmailed by people who may or may not have been Jim Brulte and one of the developers Jeff Burum.
Here is the money part of the story: (Joise Gonzales is referenced, she is a liberal democrat supervisor who was an opponent of the land deal that is the subject of the FBI investigation / upcoming trial)
“Colonies taught Gonzales to trust her instincts and find the strength within herself to do the right thing, she said.
In November 2006, days before the board’s vote on the Colonies settlement, Gonzales went on an economic development trip to China. After arriving, she testified, she was surprised to see Jim Brulte in the bar; a former state senator, he was a Colonies consultant.
He asked her to dinner and nightclubbing with him and someone else, though he did not say whom.
‘RIGHT IN MY FACE’
“I’m looking at him because he’s a big man, and he’s right in my face, and because his hands were spread out … just my instinct kicks in. My mind is reeling as to what is wrong with this picture. And I look over between his armpit … and his body, and down the hall I see Jeff Burum,” Gonzales testified. “I knew that it would be terribly dangerous for me to go anywhere with him or anyone else, especially after I recognized Jeff.”
She was leery, she testified, because she had heard that a colleague accepted a similar invitation and, given too much drugs or alcohol, was “put in compromising positions in which photographs were taken and then used to blackmail.”
The Colonies Project is a mess. Whether Brulte is innocent and this is a smear by a liberal democrat supervisor or not is indeed a concern. However, the CRP does not have the luxury of having a chariman involved in a recent FBI investigation.