ALEC’s favorite legislator, previously guilty of campaign finance fraud and most lately known for drunkenly threatening to “bitch slap” a female lobbyist at a Sacramento bar this summer, career Republican politician Joel Anderson finally has been ejected from the body politic.
And that’s just Anderson’s political punchline.
Anderson was elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving in the Assembly for four years. He termed out of the upper house this year and won the primary election in June for a Board of Equalization seat that represents San Diego, Riverside, Orange and Imperial Counties.
Now, for the rest of the joke-ending to what always was one of America’s biggest political jokes. Which is saying something since Anderson lists his residence as Alpine, ancestral home of the Duncan Hunter political crime family.
Somewhat fittingly, Anderson’s time at the political trough ended with a whimper rather than a bang. He lost an obscure, and mostly defanged, political office on Nov. 6 to Republican-turned-Democrat Mike Schaefer, a colorful San Diego octogenarian, who had no campaign donations, no party support and who previously had lost 12 consecutive political races.
Lots to unpack here
After being term-limited out of the California Legislature this year, and withdrawing from a June primary race for San Diego County supervisor while using a complex loophole in campaign finance rules to gather funds and remain eligible to spend eight times more money than any other candidate in the 2020 San Diego County Supervisors race, Anderson came up with an imaginative plan to stay on the public payroll.
Anderson ran for a District 4 seat on the 16-member state Board of Equalization, the state’s elected tax commission. Fox meet henhouse, the group’s duties include:
- Assessing the property of regulated railroads and specific public utilities, and assesses and collects the private railroad car tax.
- Overseeing the assessment practices of the state’s 58 county assessors.
- Assessing and collecting the alcoholic beverage tax, and jointly administering the tax on insurers.
Anderson’s opponent was Schaefer, who said he “raised no money, won after a dozen losses, (was) not endorsed by my own party perhaps fearing retaliation by assured victor Joel Anderson,” adding, “and now am one of 16 constitutional officers, at age 80, when most all my colleagues are either pushing daisies or scattered-at-sea.”
That’s correct. Schaefer took out the politically peripatetic Anderson with 1,384,644 votes, or 51.5 percent, to Anderson’s 1,303,804 votes, or 48.5 percent.
It’s the first time a Democrat has captured the San Diego-based seat in at least four decades, according to historian Alex Vassar.
Yet, the story of Anderson’s precipitous fall doesn’t stop there; far from it. A dispute broke out this week concerning his so-called concession.
Anderson declined to discuss his political future or comment on why he thought he lost, but he offered a congratulatory message to his opponent in a statement he provided The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday morning.
“I feel privileged to have served the people of Senate District 38, and I am grateful for the last 12 years,” Anderson wrote. “The people have spoken, and I am happy to help Mike Schaefer in any way that I can. At the end of the day, we serve the will of the people.”
To the victor goes the spoiled
Schaefer emailed The Grapevine Thursday that the “Sacramento Bee ran a story on Senator Joel Anderson’s concession to me, but he has not contacted me.”
Schaefer added he was “a regular at Peterson’s Donuts on Escondido Blvd., (k)new US Grant’s grandson Chapman Grant, the astronomist who lived in Escondo, and travelled US with Jack McCullough of the laundry business in l950s, and had personal sign postings around Escondido that paid off; almost like I was one of you.”
Schaefer now will oversee property tax collection although, in fairness, lawmakers in 2017 stripped the bulk of its other authority and replaced it with two new tax-collecting agencies.
A bit of personal backstory was provided by Schaefer, the man who finally took out Anderson, in his email. To wit:
“…Ran for US House when Clair W. Burgener retired, against the savings and loan president from Escondido, who CLAIR ENDORSED, and when the dude gave his talks, he would mentioned at least half a dozen times, that he was the candidate endorsed by outgoing US Rep. CWB. There were 18 GOP(incl. me, Bill McColl the best candidate, Johnny Crean, the worst candidate GOP, and Ron Packard, the winner, and Ms. Anfinson, a niece of president Nixon whose residence was the motel on Ortega highway), and 5 Democrats, including the worst of all candidates, Fallbrook TV man Tom Metzger, grand dragon of the KKK, his nomination got young Governor Jerry Brown to endorse Ron Packard the GOP hopeful when media and sane voters ignored Crean, who made headlines threatening MY LIFE during the campaign).”
So ends Anderson’s political career, at least for now, at Schaefer’s, and Southern California voters’, hands. However, the legend of Joel Anderson will never die for, as the reporter in John Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” once said, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
Anderson dukes it out with a nurse
While some Republicans feign outrage at being hounded from restaurants by protestors, Anderson on Aug. 13 apparently decided to turn the tables on that canard.
According to the Sacramento Bee (for whom I edited and reported in the late 1990s, but we digress):
“The California Senate is investigating allegations that Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, threatened to ‘bitch slap’ the association’s female lobbyist during an evening fundraiser at The Diplomat Steakhouse.”
Anderson was kicked out of the restaurant after allegedly harassing the woman during the Aug. 13 altercation, which he describes as a misunderstanding, according to The Bee.
The nurses identified the woman as Stephanie Roberson, the association’s government relations director, and said she filed a complaint with the Senate.
“Specifically, at that event, as witnessed by several people in attendance and restaurant staff, Sen. Anderson engaged in both physical and verbal acts of sexual harassment, that were followed by repeated threats of violence when Ms. Roberson objected to his behavior,” said Bonnie Castillo, executive director of the California Nurses Association, in a statement.
Sources present that evening who asked not to be identified said Anderson appeared to be drunk and asked Roberson why the nurses never endorsed him. Around 8 p.m., witnesses allege Anderson approached her again, became upset and and loudly threatened to “bitch slap” Roberson on more than one occasion.”
The Senate sent a letter of reprimand to the Alpine Republican, according to The Bee, but did not further punish Anderson.
“Your behavior was completely unacceptable,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, wrote to Anderson. “The Rules Committee instructs you to interact in a professional manner going forward.”
Anderson, who was kicked out of the restaurant over the incident, said his words were misinterpreted. But the Senate reported that multiple witnesses heard him use some variation of the phrase “I oughta bitch slap you” to Roberson at least two times.
The Senate investigation, according to The Bee, also found that Anderson rubbed Roberson’s “shoulders for about ten seconds in a manner that was not invited and likely unwelcome.” It did not make a factual finding about allegations that Anderson, frustrated the nurses did not endorse him, called Roberson “beautiful, but stupid.”
“The investigation doesn’t substantiate all the wild claims reported in the press,” Anderson said in a statement.
The buck stopped where
Anderson never met a campaign contribution he didn’t like, legal or otherwise, during his storied Sacramento career where the infamous American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) named him Legislator of the Year and California state chairman. He also was credited with bringing the annual ALEC meeting to San Diego in July 2015.
ALEC is completely financed by large corporations and private donors, especially representing the oil industry, pharmaceutical and tobacco companies and the billionaire Koch brothers. Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, Altria are big backers with corporations using ALEC to formulate, present and promote model legislation to elected officials who are ALEC members and sometimes hold leadership roles in the organization.
The group’s agenda includes rolling back civil rights, challenging government restrictions on polluters, infringing on workers’ rights, limiting government regulations of commerce, privatizing public services, and representing the interests of the corporations that make up its supporters.
The watchdog group ALEC Exposed said:
ALEC has long been a secretive collaboration between big business and “conservative” politicians. Behind closed doors, they ghostwrite “model” bills to be introduced in state capitols across the country. This agenda – underwritten by global corporations – includes major tax loopholes for big industries and the super-rich, proposals to offshore U.S. jobs and gut minimum wage, and efforts to weaken public health, safety, and environmental protections.
For a detailed investigation of Anderson’s ALEC career, his admitted campaign finance violations, support of Donald Trump, and general political trials and tribulations, visit The Grapevine’s “Follow the money: Joel Anderson edition.”
But for now, voters to Joel Anderson: Bye, Felicia…