Two-term San Bernardino City Councilman Chas Kelley knew he was in trouble with the FBI for campaign finance violations when they asked him to wear a wire during conversations with his associates.
He also knew it before he filed papers to run for mayor. But he apparently didn’t know how it would all turn out until he pleaded guilty to felony perjury and resigned his council seat last week. And now the city is in the embarrassing position of having a newly-minted felon as a mayoral candidate on its November 5 ballot.
It’s doubling embarrassing for the city, because Kelley wasn’t the only councilman in court on Thursday. In a totally unrelated case, Councilman Robert Jenkins was charged with 30 felony and misdemeanor counts in an alleged Internet revenge attack on an ex-boyfriend and a second man using Craigslist.
It’s too late for the city to remove Kelley’s name; ballots have already been printed and some have been mailed. So theoretically, he could be elected mayor. However, as part of his plea, Kelley agreed to never hold public office again.
There are 10 candidates in the race and many political observers expect none will receive enough votes to avoid a runoff. According to Cassie MacDuff at the Riverside Press-Enterprise, City Clerk Gigi Hanna does not know yet how the city will proceed if Kelley qualifies for a runoff.
Kelley’s sentence on December 13 probably will include 90 days in weekend county jail or on work-release and five years probation. Ryan Hagen at the San Bernardino Sun said prosecutors accused Kelley of being a serial abuser, underreporting his campaign fundraising and expenditures between July 2006 and June 2012 and using the money for non-campaign purposes.
Jenkins, who won his seat in a 2011 special election, will also be on the November ballot.
The special education teacher at Norte Vista High School in Riverside is accused of assuming his ex-boyfriend’s identity to place fake ads online to direct men interested in being sex partners to his ex-boyfriend and his ex-boyfriend’s new boyfriend. After failing to interest the authorities in his plight, the ex-boyfriend, Scott Head, filed a lawsuit to discover who was harassing him.
An Internet IP trace appeared to lead back to Jenkins. When the allegations against him surfaced, Jenkins produced a document that seemed to support his claim that he was the victim. It appeared to be a memo from two San Bernardino police officers acknowledging their receipt of a complaint from Jennings predating the complaints against him.
The officers denied having written the memo and Joe Nelson at the San Bernardino Sun said it had a date stamp from “Common Council Office, City of San Bernardino.” The councilman was accused of creating a false police memo.
Jenkins has denied any wrongdoing and is scheduled to be arraigned in Riverside Superior Court on Dec. 17.
The council upheaval is unfolding against a backdrop of fiscal crisis. San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy last year and disgruntled residents launched a mass recall of the mayor, city attorney, city clerk and all seven councilmembers. They were successful in putting a recall vote of City Attorney James Penman, and Councilmembers Wendy McCammack and John Valdivia on the November ballot.