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Assembly Candidate Osborn's Latest Endorsement Comes Amid Controversy

Longtime West Hollywood-Beverly Hills Democratic Club members say sudden influx of new, pro-Osborn members stacked the vote in her favor. Candidate defends tactic.

It was a tense Wednesday night in West Hollywood as California Assembly candidate received another local Democratic club's key endorsement, one mired in controversy.

The community organizer won the support of the West Hollywood-Beverly Hills Democratic Club—her eighth endorsement from eight area Democratic clubs in recent weeks, again edging out her opponents in the upcoming primary, incumbent Betsy Butler and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom.

But Weho-Beverly Hills club members say their endorsement process was hijacked by way of a slew of new members who allegedly joined the club for the sole purpose of securing the Osborn endorsement. Similar charges were made at the of Osborn earlier this month.

The organization has about 125 members, 35 to 40 of whom are actively involved, according to the club's president, Lillian Raffel. She said the club received 45 new members on Dec. 29—their memberships all paid for with a single check amounting to $1,125.

Some of those new members live in communities outside the area, including Glendale and Norwalk, which are not in the new 50th Assembly District. Club bylaws do not have any residency restrictions, just that a member voting on the endorsement must have joined within the previous 25 days. 

Longtime members say those 45 new members were enough to push the endorsement vote in the candidate's favor. Osborn defended the tactic when Patch questioned her.

After a short thank-you speech pledging to serve the interests of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, as well as the club, Osborn told Patch she needed the local endorsements.

“I’m thrilled to have this [endorsement]” Osborn said, explaining she believes the state Democratic endorsement will be “stacked against me” since it consistently favors the incumbent candidate, who in this case is Betsy Butler.

“We’re in it to win it,” Osborn told Patch. “I have a grass-roots army that’s working with me. ... People joining clubs in order to vote for who they vote for is part of the grass roots. It just is part of the tactics. People do it all the time. I’m proud of my troops.”

Proposed dual endorsement

At the beginning of the meeting, the club’s executive panel was recommending dual endorsements of both Osborn and Butler.

Club President Raffel explained that the executive panel interviewed Osborn, Butler and Bloom. Raffel reported the 13-member panel had voted 6-6-1 for Osborn, Butler and Bloom, in that order. Thus, they were recommending the dual endorsement.

But the full club did not go for that dual endorsement, voting 27-47 against it. A motion was then made to endorse Butler, but that too failed with a 25-46 vote. Finally, a motion to endorse Osborn was made, passing 43-28.

Tension in the room

Prior to the start of the meeting, the new members were the talk of the room, many club members angry about them joining at the last minute. As the meeting got under way, the atmosphere in the room was tense.

An hour into the meeting, Weho Mayor John Duran, a longtime club member, spoke, acknowledging the many new faces in the room. “Don’t hijack our process and never come back again,” Duran said. “Don’t do to us what you did in Malibu.”

After Duran spoke, the mood in the room lightened somewhat, but with each successive endorsement vote, the tension began to rise.

By the time Osborn won the endorsement—at the end of the nearly three-hour meeting—Duran could no longer contain his frustration. Storming out, he said, “West Hollywood will not forget this.”

Ploy used 'aggressively,' some say 

Although no one else was as vocal as Duran, several others approached Patch to voice their displeasure.

“I have never seen anything as aggressive as this,” said longtime member Norman Chramoff, a Weho resident. “I’ve seen people stuff these meetings and buy memberships before, but in 25 years of doing this, I’ve never seen anybody so aggressive about it.”

Weho Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Prang was equally concerned. He believed the outcome might not have been for Osborn had just the core club members voted, but as a two-time past president of the club, he also recognized that buying a large chunk of memberships was within the club’s rules.

“They’re effectively using the rules in ways that haven't really been used before,” said Prang, who reports he is friends with all three contenders, but is supporting Butler since she is the incumbent. “It demonstrates where there is a weakness, where the club’s endorsements can be manipulated.”

Raffel told Patch she hopes some of these new members will return for future meetings, but said she won’t be surprised if they don’t. “I have never seen it [new members coming in] to this degree,” she said. “People bring in a few more people, but not to this extent.”

She added she was disappointed that the dual endorsement option didn’t pass. “I really felt that having the dual endorsements was more reflective of our club,” Raffel said.

Tactic used by D'Amico, Osborn notes

Following the meeting, Osborn noted West Hollywood City Councilman John D’Amico did something similar when he was seeking the club's endorsement during his race for City Council and enrolled 45 new members into the club.

Patch phoned D’Amico’s former campaign manager Renee Nahum, now working on the Bloom campaign, to confirm that charge. Nahum said the D’Amico campaign brought in 12 new members to the club a year ago, all West Hollywood residents.

Regardless, the tactic did not work for D’Amico, as the club ended up endorsing incumbents John Heilman, Abbe Land and Lindsey Horvath. However, at election time, D’Amico was the top vote-getter in the City Council race.

Other Democratic endorsements

The club also voted to endorse Danette Meyers for Los Angeles County district attorney over openly gay candidate Mario Trujillo, along with incumbents Dianne Feinstein for U.S. senator, Rep. Henry Waxman for the 33rd Congressional District seat (of which Beverly Hills is a part), and Rep. Adam Schiff for the 28th Congressional District seat (of which West Hollywood is now a part, due to redistricting).

Stay up to date on West Hollywood news and events, by following @WehoPatch and “like” on Facebook.

allegra January 27, 2012 at 03:24 AM
I find the endorsement charade...just that; “an absurd pretense intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance”. It is unfortunate that the eventual voters buy that it was fair. I don’t agree that buying votes is okay at either State or local level. Grassroots movements are usually about being fair and local groundswell. It’s outrageous that people came in from outside the district to vote in our community.... In theory, it might sound good, if you truly believe your candidate can do no wrong... but, I’ve seen brilliant candidates lose the endorsement (time & time again) just because troops were paid for and marched in to vote. I don’t see any thing fair in stacking the deck. Everyone cheats...so it’s okay? We’re the good guys so we can cheat...and then, we’ll do good work... & never do it again? Yeah, right! This is not who I want to be represented by. John Duran just did what I’ve wished I could do, many times, when watching one of these farces in action. It’s also interesting that Tori tried to point a finger at John D’Amico, since, he’s been public about not supporting her. I’ll be voting for Richard Bloom.
Marta Evry January 27, 2012 at 02:34 PM
As I posted above, no one cheated. In fact, no one even bent the rules. After years of attending these endorsement meetings I've learned that effective candidates organize their base to come out and support them while ineffective candidates and their surrogates complain about the results. I am especially disappointed with Raffel, who should have disclosed to Patch that she endorsed Butler's opponent months ago - she's clearly spinning the story here to favor Butler. She also fails to mention it was Butler's campaign who objected to the dual endorsement during the meeting - that objection set off the series of votes which ultimately lead to Osborn receiving sole endorsement from the club.
Marta Evry January 27, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Correction: I meant to write that Raffel was endorsing OSBORN's opponent - Betsy Butler.
Rudolf Martin January 27, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I'm proud not to be a member of that club.
jimmy palmieri January 27, 2012 at 07:43 PM
over the years, i have watched endorsements to these archaic clubs and their archaic rules, be "purchased"|." this is why people need to do their own research and not rely on a group of people, who may not have the communities best interest at heart. congrats ms. osborn, on being the high bidder for your endorsements. it has signed , sealed and delivered my vote against you.........WERD
joninla January 28, 2012 at 04:43 AM
When it comes to anything said by the Currrent City Council, I put little worth on their opinions, even less for current mayor Duran (based on what has come from his mouth since being sworn in) Regardless of the unfair endorsement is true or not, for our Mayor to storm out after calling the results "Bullsh*t" is so unprofessional, unpriductive and reinforces the sterotype of all gay men being hot headed bitchy queens. That reflects poorly on the city & all gay men, Mr. Mayor. Secondly, I don't think any current City Council Members have any moral right to complain about 'buying' political seats or corruption in the process (true or not, the hypocracy of our Corrupt City Council & their hold on power via $ endorsmrnts offend me ... Actually a bit of a giggle at how upset he got over the lack of response to his "calling foul") . I am undecided about this race, but I sont want our Mayor involved in anyone's decision making, or at least my own.
Tom Freeman January 29, 2012 at 09:58 AM
Osborne is making a mockery of the local Democratic Clubs. The real Club members, who have participated throughout the years and pay for their own membership dues, are being robbed of their voice by her scheme to "stuff the ballot box" with votes by pseudo-members whose memberships are paid for by Osborne (acting through a single "donor"). Voters should show her that this is not how the democratic process works by voting for Butler or Bloom.
Marta Evry January 29, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Isn’t it more than a little absurd that Butler – who has never lived in AD 50, still represents Torrance and is moving into Beverly Hills to run for this open seat in order to keep her job – is upset that so-called “outsiders” are attending local club meetings?
Rudolf Martin January 29, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Tom, I don't disagree but if your Club made the rules and this maneuver was very common inside the Club then only the Club and ALL its members are to blame. candidates were expected to be discreet about using this maneuver (osborn wasn't), just as later on they'd have to be discreet about guiding developers donations into the right channels if they made it into elected office. clubs like this one are great training grounds where one learns how to be discreetly unethical under a lax set of rules.
Marilyn January 30, 2012 at 07:09 AM
As a registered Democrat in the newly-configured 50th AD who wants good, solid representation, I find this trend of infusing local Dem Clubs with ringers extremely disturbing. I would expect my fellow Democrats and the candidates they support to embrace small "d" democracy and not buy endorsements or fill clubs with non-members in order to skew the outcome of such an important process. Gaming the system is the way to win? What else would these psuedo-club members go out and do? Steal lawn signs? Pay residents to vote for their candidate? Is this California or Mississippi? The focus should be on how the candidates comport themselves, their depth of knowledge and commitment to their beliefs, their ability to listen to new ideas and incorporate them into their decision-making, and their persuasiveness in getting others to support them in order to be effective legislators. Certain zealous activists seem to be caught up in winning at any cost. It’s troubling to see people who profess to have such high principles stooping to this level of undemocratic and unethical behavior. If Torie Osborn wants to prove to the Democrats in the 50th Assembly District that she's fit to represent us in Sacramento, she should come out against this widespread election manipulation by her followers and call for a fair and legitimate process among the Democrats who have a history of dedicated club involvement. If she doesn't do that, what does that say about who she is and her level of integrity?
Crystal Litz January 30, 2012 at 07:23 AM
I went to the meeting. It was my first meeting. But I had been talking to the President for months about joining. I live in WeHo. I went to be active in my community AND to support Torie. I'm not sure I'll go to another meeting. The Mayor was a total ass... insulting to lesbians and to everyone in general. Butler did nothing to calm her crazed supporters who yelled at and were aggressive to women. I felt like I needed an escort back to my car. The loser in this is Duran... and of course Butler who apparently can't organize enough supporters to win an endorsement meeting.
Shawn Thompson January 30, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I agree with Shelia 100%. The flaws of the party's "edorsement" process has clearly been revealed in my opinion. It seem rooted in spin versus truth in my view. I have had significant frustration with John Duran's approach to the Protect Plummer Park Community group. But I can say that I liked his public and dramatic protest to the whole process at the meeting. I think both transparency in our election process along with spirited debate is critical in have the best possible candidate elected. And that the current process is broken.
allegra January 30, 2012 at 05:59 PM
It must have been so dreadful and scary to have John Duran say such a nasty thing as “bullshit” (while she calls him an ass...) and to have Betsy’s people being mean to women. This was not “winning” an endorsement. I notice that Crystal is a political consultant who has accused former employers of sexist harassment and that the employers tried to get a restraining order against her. From Crystals website: “Crystal brings to CAI expertise in numerous areas including management consulting, crisis communications, coalition building, real estate/land use, branding and market protection strategies, public affairs and grassroots organizing.”  “She was selected to participate in the Executive Education program at Harvard Business School completing “Leading Professional Service Firms”, an intensive course for senior level consulting executives, and “Program on Negotiation – Dealing with an Angry Public” at Harvard Law School.”  She must have skipped that last class... I, somehow, don’t think this woman needs to be walked to her car.
Marta Evry January 31, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I'm disappointed in club president Lillian Raffel, who made a beeline to the media (including Patch) to complain about her club's endorsement. Raffel failed to mention she not only endorsed Betsy Butler, she was a Butler delegate for the CA Democratic Party. I later learned she didn't even disclose this to club members. She certainly never brought it up at the meeting. Raffel also claimed no one had ever paid for multiple club memberships with a single check before - a claim that proved to be untrue when Patch discovered a candidate for the West Hollywood City Council had done exactly the same thing the year before. At the time, some members and other candidates complained, yet nothing was done to amend the rules. So for Raffel to suddenly yell "foul!" because the candidate she didn't support utilized the same rules isn't just hypocritical, it's unethical. Frankly, the time for Raffel to have voiced concern about a single check paying for multiple memberships was at the time she received the check, not a month later when her candidate lost (perhaps she was hoping the check was for Butler supporters?). For the record, the Raffel cashed the check.
Rudolf Martin January 31, 2012 at 10:52 PM
The Patch comment thread seems to be the political graveyard for small town consultants and lobbyists.
Chloe Ross February 01, 2012 at 09:20 PM
New York City in the mid to late 1800's - Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall and pay and play politics. Look it up. The term is "Political Machine". Ours - all of the various ones in the race - seem to be well tuned and ready to break the sound barrier. Quacking as loudly as they can.
The Man The Myth A Legend in his own Mind February 01, 2012 at 10:00 PM
The Beverly Hills City is now part of the newly formed 50th Assembly District. Torie Osborn, Betsy Butler, and Richard Bioom are the candidates that are in the race. “TORIE OSBORN WILL BE ANOINTED" Bloom might have become a contender. When he made a deal with the devil joining with the developers, he became every woman’s man and every man’s woman and all of his credibility is gone. He is delusional though in thinking the rank and file of Santa Monicans love him. There is a certain reminder of Muammar Gaddafi here, and he sure did receive the full measure of his people’s love. Legislatively, Bloom will deserve the same judgment. This will be a prelude to Bloom’s‘Last Hurrah.’ The political graveyard is filled with hypocrites.” The facts speak for themselves. Santa Monica Mayor Bloom was compelled to moved out of West Hollywood. Bloom got no love from West Hollywood or any other Democratic Club for the simple reason of his known record.He was appointed as Mayor of Santa Monica by other Council Members like him that used his voting position to reward developers that donated thousands of dollars towards his election. If they quack like a Duck then they are a Duck. That being said, Bloom is quacking as loudly as he can.
Pro Se February 02, 2012 at 04:06 AM
“TORIE OSBORN WILL BE ANOINTED" Bloom might have become a contender. When he made a deal with the devil joining with the developers, he became every woman’s man and every man’s woman and all of his credibility is gone. He is delusional though in thinking the rank and file of Santa Monicans love him. There is a certain reminder of Muammar Gaddafi here, and he sure did receive the full measure of his people’s love. Legislatively, Bloom will deserve the same judgment. This will be a prelude to Bloom’s‘Last Hurrah.’ The political graveyard is filled with hypocrites.” Santa Monica Mayor Bloom was compelled to moved out of West Hollywood. Bloom got no love from West Hollywood or any other Democratic Club for the simple reason of his known record.He was appointed as Mayor of Santa Monica by other Council Members like him that used his voting position to reward developers that donated thousands of dollars towards his election. If they quack like a Duck then they are a Duck. That being said, Bloom is quacking as loudly as he can.
Pro Se February 02, 2012 at 04:08 AM
The Richard Bloom facts speak for themselves. Bloom had one hundred Santa Monica Police Officers to become his Political tool to remove a wheelchair bound Handicap. I am a Handicap man uses life support equipment. I am a Handicap man only wanted to use his sign as part of his two minute audio/visual presentation of City Council Agenda 14. I am a Handicap man that founded the Santa Monica Disabilities Commission on May 1, 1998 to try and yet failed to stop the Mayor and City Council from spending a million dollars to modify City Hall to deny the Handicap from being able to speak at any future City Council meetings. I am a Handicap man that presentation sign read SantaMonica4HumanRights@gmail.com The sign was to protest the fact that Bloom changed the City Council rules so that Handicap people that used life support equipment and thus had special needs wouldn't be denied to be seen or heard providing their two minute public input presentations at the start of the City Council meeting on agenda items that might be heard at the end of the meeting.
Pro Se February 02, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Mayor Richard Bloom 9/29/2010 Jim Crow like Law only targets people with special needs. My Federal Criminal Complaint is now being investigated by the U.S Justice Department. My Doctors gave written prescriptions to Mayor Bloom to provide Disability Accommodation as a patients that use life support equpment so that I would be able to speak at the start of the City Council meetings Bloom instead pulled a hateful Lester Mannix on me by useing 100 Police Officers to remove me by force and thus violated his oath of Office concerning the A.D.A Act Federal Law. Bloom changed the City Council rules on 9/29/2010 to only allow people with special needs to write down their audio and visual two minute presentations and submit it to the City Clerk so that they would thus become separate and unequal and not be seen or heard giving a two minute presentation at City Council meetings at the start of the meeting. Keep in mind that Bloom only allows several of his able body friends the right to speak early and to also use presentation signs as seen in several recent City Council meetings.
Crystal Litz February 02, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Allegra... wish I had the free time to post on Patch all day like you do... but I'm SUPER busy suing people... LOL... your research is abysmal. But thanks for the awesome plug about my skills. Still accepting campaigns for 2012. Now I'll let you get back to your life in your mom's basement.
Don Jones February 02, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Hey Crystal - HBS called and they're changing your grade to an F.
jimmy February 02, 2012 at 09:21 PM
John Duran is just upset that he doesn't play dirty politics corruption stacking as well as his opponents do. For future fake elections in this fake clubs, they should maybe just be a litlte more honest and describe what they are pretending to vote on as something like: "who can turn out more shill voters for this fake election".
David Berl February 03, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Alegra, it is BEYOND REPROACH that you would post such personal things about someone else but this slime coming from you is no surprise. You were NOT at this meeting. I know because whenever I am within 4 miles of you the hair on the back of my neck inexplicably stands up. Since you were NOT there, you shouldn't comment about it because you end up looking like an old fool. The TRUTH of the matter is Duran was UNHINGED the entire time. Not only were his NUMEROUS outbursts incredibly uncalled for, he was dressed like a homeless person, looked like he hadnt slept in 4 days and was basically unkempt. I have heard from people in the know that Butler is distancing herself from him. People are focused on his cursing, and his attacking the candidate and his fights with club members at the end of the meeting, the truth is he was carrying on throughout the entire meeting. He should have been asked to leave for this foul behaviour alone, SEVERAL times speaking out of order, saying he BELIEVED that some of the people were not from WEHO as if he had a clue where are from. It was gross. After his final outburst, in which he stormed out of the room cursing on his way out and fighting with 2 women in the audience as he left, the person next to me whom I did not know asked, "who WAS that crazy guy?" You can imagine his shock when I said, 'the mayor of west hollywood. Clearly there is something serious happening with Duran and Im not the only person who feels this way.
allegra February 03, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Absolutely hysterical! Not only have I never heard of Mr. Berl but, I seriously doubt that I’ve ever been within four miles of him. My “personal” comments about Crystal consisted of what I found on the first page...Googling her...in about two minutes. Not exactly very personal. What you call “slime” is from her own website and an article on her lawsuit. I watched the tape & I’ve seen John Duran in jeans before.... and I’ve heard the word “bullshit” before. The guy sitting next to you was obviously brought in for the vote since, he’s a member of the West Hollywood Demo club and doesn’t know who the mayor is. Interesting, though, when I googled you, all I found was a lawyer in Washington DC. Lighten up...You sound a little unhinged yourself.
jimmy February 03, 2012 at 02:33 AM
David, it is perfectly reasonable to make personal attacks on people when they deserve it, and even if they don't deserve it. Politics is dirty whether on a local level or world/national level. I am totally interested if someone is pointed out as a liar and/or hypocrit. I want to be informed, I want to know this. If Crystal wanted to disprove anything, she had the chance, and she choose instead to make personal attacks on the messenger. So I'll presume everything Allegra said was correct unless Crystal defends herself or sues Allegra. John Duran is an entitled hot-head and I'm glad people in a public forum got to see it first hand. He's like a big baby and when he doesn't get his way, especially when someone is better at stacking votes than he is, he's a cry baby. I'll give him credit for being honest about it. But how dare you criticize Allegra for pointing out what some of us want to know. Shame on you.
Crystal Litz February 03, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Allegra - the whole Googling people you meet on a message board is just creepy. Your candidate Richard Bloom really needs help... why not use your, um... skills (?) to assist his campaign instead? Or maybe post your real name so we can spend valuable billable time looking YOU up (as if)? I'm flattered, but not interested.
Manny February 06, 2012 at 11:19 AM
If our out-going Mayor doesn't like the Osborne endorsment, she must be a great choice.
Margaret Okuzumi February 08, 2012 at 06:46 PM
These Clubs need to get a clue and create an endorsement process that is less subject to manipulation. We've attempted to do so at the Democratic Club of Sunnyvale. People can't just pay dues--they need to have attended a prior meeting to be allowed to vote. This and other aspects of our process make it transparent to all and result in much less rancor over tough endorsement decisions, like one we just had. Check it out: sunnyvaledems.org
Stacy Dalgleish April 19, 2012 at 03:32 AM
I wonder how many of the new members were from the district. I'm guessing that it was a higher percentage than those sent to the CDC by our Speaker. Stacy Dalgleish

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