First Occupants of Lake Forest's "House of Ill Repute"

Dr. Jim Gardner
Dr. Jim Gardner

Two weeks ago we introduced the concept of the "House of Ill Repute – a place where we can gather all the apparent ethical violations and hypocrisy that pass as currency in our current City Council’s idea of politics. Today we have our first tenants. They booked a double room because most of the time they are fellow travelers – they vote the same way, they show up at the same fund raisers, and in fact, they are their own BFFs, so it’s not surprising that they are our first occupants.



Before we check the register to see who they are, let’s review the City’s Code of Ethics -

“2.3 Safeguard ability to make independent, objective, fair and impartial judgments by scrupulously avoiding financial and social relationships and transactions that may compromise, or give the appearance of compromising, objectivity, independence, and honesty.”

“2.4 Carefully consider if exceeding or appearing to exceed authority of office for personal and/or financial gain. When in doubt, avoid actions that create, in the mind of a reasonable observer, the appearance of impropriety, ethical lapses, legal violations, or actions inconsistent with the Leadership Principles.”

Note that the City doesn’t merely require that you avoid compromising your integrity, they specifically require that you not “give the appearance of compromising”. This is a much higher standard than merely being good.



According to the FPPC mandatory financial disclosure forms filed with the City Clerk, the Manufactured Housing PAC made the following campaign contributions –

  • Scott Voigts – 10/26/2010 - $250

  • Dwight Robinson – 10/2/2012 - $250

In addition, the El Toro Mobile Estates gave $250 to Robinson on 10/2/2012.

Now bear in mind, there is nothing illegal about people running for office or in office accepting money from anyone. There isn’t even anything immoral or unethical about the acceptance of the money. The issues come up once, having accepted the money, you are asked for a favor, like voting to grant a permit for a license for the business owner who detailed your car for free, or refusing to enact an ordinance that a PAC (political action committee) opposes.



On Jan 21 2014, the City Council agenda considered the pleas of dozens of residents to enact an ordinance that gave them an extra layer of protection against the possible closure of the mobile park homes in the City. Click here for a review of that agenda item. Council members Voigts and Robinson spoke at the meeting, and neither one revealed the fact that they had accepted money from the PAC or the managing agent of one of the mobile park homes. Then when it came time to vote, they did what the PAC urged them to do – they ignored the pleas of their own residents and refused to enact an ordinance.

To a naïve person, this looks like what we call a bribe. Black's Law Dictionary defines a bribe as “the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.” IOW -

  1. You hold public office

  2. People give you money

  3. They ask you to do something for them

  4. You do it

But in the political arena in California, this doesn’t constitute a bribe because the people who wrote the laws (the politicians) specifically exempted campaign committees from the type of legal constraints that otherwise would put you before a judge. So what looks like a bribe, and smells like a bribe, isn’t actually a bribe, and therefore, not illegal. Of course, not being illegal doesn’t make something good, nor does it obviate the likelihood that their actions violate the City’s own code of ethics. The code requires them to avoid anything that in the mind of a reasonable observer looks like they might put their financial interests (the $ the mobile home owners gave them) above the interests of the people.

What makes the issue more disturbing is that Voigts and Robinson completely neglected to say that they had received the money. They could have said, as Council woman McCullough did, that they had a vested interest. This would have made their behavior less offensive. By hiding the fact that they too had a vested interest, they certainly gave the appearance of knowing fully well that their behavior was unethical.



So our first two occupants of the House of Ill Repute are Scott Voigts and Dwight Robinson. I suspect there will be more tenants shortly. Meantime it’s worth noting that Voigts shows up first in our “House of Ill Repute” and first in our “House of Lies”. Moreover, Voigts and Robinson were the targets of a 2013 anti-corruption movement - “Save Lake Forest”  - that collected more than 4,000 signatures from registered Lake Forest residents.

BTW – feel free to nominate someone for either house by e-mailing me at DrJGardner@gmail.com


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Donna Fleming February 19, 2014 at 12:31 AM
Clue-The victim was the community of Lake Forest, it happened in the city council chambers, with a gavel, who was wronged by the city council....by Professor Plum or Robinson.
Homer February 19, 2014 at 12:59 AM
We know there was a "crime." I'm just not quite sure if it was the Professor or Robinson. I'll have to check the odds down at our new horse wagering bar & grill before I lay my bet on the table.
Patrick Rodgers February 19, 2014 at 06:23 AM
Clearly the author of this hit piece is a disgruntled activist who has an ax to grind with members of the Lake Forest City Council. The article, long on accusations and short on facts leaves a lot to be desired. While the author's Blacks Law definition of bribery is correct, there is another element he leaves out. In bribery cases there must be "intent" on the part of both parties involved. Party one says to pary two, "Here is a $250 donation to your campaign and in return I want "x". Party two accepts the donation and agrees to provide "x". The author has shown zero attachment to a couple of low amount campaign donations made in 2010 and 2012 and a City Ordinance which came before the Council several years later. The author also fails to mention what the recommendation of City Staff was on the Ordinance the Council voted against? Were they bribed too? In the world of political campaigns, granted one must be careful about screening donations for conflicts of interest. The author presented absolutely no evidence of lack of due diligence by the two elected officials he is smearing. As a comparison, one might imagine that had the author dug hard enough, he might find a John Doe who made a campaign contribution of $100. to Council Member Voigt in 2010. Later John Doe headed up a citizen group who brought a petition to Council Member Voigt to have a stop sign placed at an intersection where a number of accidents occured. Council Member Voigt might have taken the lead and directed the City Manager to pursue the stop sign. Question now arises is this a bribe? Under the author's warped sense of justice, it would be. Under standards of government it would be an elected official working on behalf of his citizens. Sorry Mr. Gardner, if this is the best corruption you can dig up, then perhaps we should nominate you for the recipient of the House of Ill Repute Award.
Jim Gardner February 19, 2014 at 11:07 AM
Hi Patrick. If you go back to previous columns you will find many instances and more egregious examples than the ones presented here. If you e-mail me directly at DrJGardner@gmail.com I can shorten the process and send you the links directly. These examples are not "the best corruption" I can dig up, they are merely the most recent in a long line.
Dwayne Boring February 19, 2014 at 02:34 PM
Patrick, I would say disgruntled activist is being kind here. The author is also a disgruntled candidate for the same city council seats of which he now so actively campaigns against the occupants of, specifically the seat of Voights. I believe the voters spoke, and not in the authors favor. During the authors campaign for city council some years ago, many questions came up in my mind. The author continually advocates for amenities that may not be necessary (just because a neighboring city has it, doesn't mean we do) and did not explain how they would be paid for. Frankly, I don't need my taxes being raised to pay for a senior center, dog park, animal shelter, or any other host of amenities that the author so desires. Since then, the author has not found one thing that he has publicly stated about this city or the council that he thinks is good or correct. I agree, sounds like sour grapes to me.
Jim Gardner February 19, 2014 at 04:05 PM
Hi Boring. It's true that I was a candidate for City Council and I lost, but it's not true that "the author has not found one thing that he has publicly stated about this city or the council that he thinks is good or correct." In fact, no one praises the City and/or the Council more than I do. At the previous City Council meeting, for example, I complemented staff member Debra Rose for the great job she did on a report for the Council and I commended Mayor Robinson for showing up at the Parade Committee and rallying the troops. Last night I commended Councilman Nick for financing his campaign without having to solicit money from vested interests. etc. etc. I call it like it is. If someone does a good job I praise them, and if they do a poor job or something I think will harm the City, I criticize them.
Homer February 19, 2014 at 09:38 PM
Interesting how Mr. Rogers reels against Dr. Gardner's criticism of the LFCC, yet he is quite vocal against Larry Agran and the Irvine dictatorship. Both articles were associated with the topic of corruption no less.
Jim Gardner February 20, 2014 at 10:23 AM
Hi Homer. It's interesting to note that I offered Mr. Rogers the opportunity to write to me and I would provide voluminous evidence about corruption, but he didn't bother to ask.
Tom Cagley February 20, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Jim: Today's OC Yorba Linda Star has an interesting article on city ethics and an apparent violation of their laws by the mayor and a councilman. What intriqued me about the story was that residents of Yorba Linda, voted in a 'city ethics law' in 2010. I don't know how LF's ethics law came into existence, but perhaps that is a route that should be explored. Just a thought.
Jim Gardner February 20, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Tom. I had a discussion with Councilman Nick after the Council meeting and he told me that he was going to pursue putting some procedures together for our ethics code so that violations could be addressed. Let's see what he comes up with in the next few weeks, but if it is inadequate, or if the Council votes "no" (as they did with the Sunshine Ordinance, for example), then the idea of a law can be pursued. This would involve the referendum process, and we do have some recent experience in that arena that will make this easier to do.
Tom Cagley February 20, 2014 at 01:47 PM
It will be interesting to see if Nick does anything. This may call for an ad hoc committee (like the committee that is dealing with the Marine adoption) to do some brainstorming and come up with a plan. Also, if they (City Council) ever find the courage to have 'town hall' meetings, these would be very good forums to raise the issue.


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