Downey Judge Spent $170,000 to Retain Seat, Records Show
'Jesse' Rodriguez Outspent Opponent Kirt Hopson by More Than 3-1
By KENNETH OFGANG, MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jesus "Jesse" Rodriguez spent over $170,000 in his successful effort to remain on the court, campaign spending reports show.
Rodriguez, who told the MetNews in a post-election interview that he didn't "know much about politics," defeated opponent Kirt Hopson by a 4-1 margin in the March 7 election. The two were vying for a seat in the former Downey judicial district, where Rodriguez served as a municipal court judge for two years prior to court unification.
Rodriguez's report, received Thursday by the registrar's office, shows that he spent about $78,000 just in the last reporting period beginning Feb. 20. Hopson reported a final total of $55,000, just $10,400 of it in the last reporting period.
Monday was the deadline for all candidates to report contributions and expenditures through June 30. Reports are considered timely if postmarked no later than last Monday, and election officials said a number of reports had not yet been received as of Friday's mail.
Candidates involved in the two judicial runoff contests—in the former Alhambra and Los Angeles judicial districts—face an Oct. 5 deadline for filing their next reports. Candidates not involved in runoffs may still carry over surpluses for future campaigns, and must file reports every six months if they do.
Rodriguez's report showed that he had more than 150 contributors in the last reporting period.
Fellow jurists who contributed were Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Brian Gasdia, Ronald Sohigian, Peter Espinoza, Francis Hourigan, Sandra Thompson, James Brandlin, Tracy Moreno, Yvonne Sanchez, Philip Gutierrez, and Margaret Bernal; Orange Superior Court Judge Francisco Firmat; Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioners Burt Barnett, Gerald Mansfield, and Edward Drayer; Retired Downey Municipal Court Judge Leon Emerson; retired Downey Municipal Court Commissioner Marvin Licker; and retired Los Cerritos Municipal Court Judge Richard Hanki.
In addition, the campaign committee of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Roy Paul, who ran unopposed, gave $500 in the last reporting period and $1,500 total, making it one of Rodriguez's largest contributors.
Rodriguez had previously reported contributions from Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Jacob Adajian, Keith Schwartz, Ramona See, Richard Charvat, John Torribio, Arthur Lew, Reginald Yates, Philip Mautino, Thomas Sokolov, William Birney, Andrew Kauffman, Richard Rico, Xenophon Lang Jr., David Milton, Alban Niles, Mark Arnold, Josh M. Fredericks, Philip Hickok, Abraham Khan, Larry S. Knupp, John D. Lord, Lyle M. McKenzie, Tomson T. Ong, and William G. Willett, and Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Armando Moreno and Ross Klein.
The biggest spenders next to Rodriguez, among those candidates whose reports had been received, were Superior Court Commissioner Hugh Bobys, who lost his bid for a seat in the former Beverly Hills Municipal Court District, and Judge John Martinez, seeking reelection to his seat in the former Alhambra Municipal Court District.
Bobys spent over $90,000, most of it in the form of loans from himself and his wife to the campaign. Only $9,000 of it was spent in the last reporting period.
Bobys reported a single judicial contributor in that period, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marsha Revel. Previous contributors included Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Luros and Commissioner Gerald Rosenberg.
Martinez reported spending nearly $24,000 in the run-up to election day, bringing his total over $88,000. He faces a November runoff with Maria C. Vargas-Rodriguez, a Los Angeles attorney.
Vargas-Rodriguez's campaign consultant, Victor Griego, claimed after the election that she spent $150,000, nearly all of it after the last reporting deadline. But Vargas-Rodriguez and the third candidates in the race, California Realtors Association attorney Llewellyn P. Chin, were among the candidates whose reports were not yet available.
Martinez's latest contributors included nine Los Angeles Superior Court judges—Sohigian, Niles, Gutierrez, Emily Stevens, Michael Duggan, Thomas Townsend, Dale Fischer, and Mel Red Recana. He also received donations from Commissioner Armando Moreno and U.S. District Judge Lourdes Baird.
His largest contributor was the political action committee of the Mexican American Bar Association, which kicked in $5,000.
He had previously reported donations from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Presiding Judge Victor Chavez and Judges Philip Soto, David Doi, Aurelio Munoz, Sandra Thompson, and Raymond Mireles.
Among the candidates whose reports had not been received as of Friday, according to elections officials, were Richard Stone, who defeated Bobys and two other opponents and subsequently was appointed to the seat after incumbent Judith Hollinger retired; Deputy District Attorney Katherine Mader, who won the only countywide judicial contest; and Deputy District Attorney David Mintz, who faces attorney Vicki M. Roberts in the Los Angeles district runoff.
Roberts did not file a report this period, but previously filed a short form indicating that she would not raise or spend more than $1,000, excluding her filing fee and candidate statement paid for from her own funds.
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 2000