McDonnell Pal Said To Get County Ride for Raising Campaign Cash

The head of Jim McDonnell’s secretive 2014 political independent expenditure committee was rewarded for steering McDonnell nearly $400,000 in campaign cash with a take-home patrol car and status as Queen Bee of LASD’s reserves, an LASD watchdog reported Friday night.

In fact, we understand Skobin may be the only reserve to have a county car, regularly gassed up at Santa Clarita Station.

Full credit to Surruo.com for breaking this news. We cannot independently confirm it, though we do understand there is photo and documentary evidence. We also understand from county sources the vehicle is either assigned to Skobin personally or is assigned, on paper to the Taskforce for Regional Auto-Theft Prevention but that Skobin gets virtually exclusive use of it and has often been seen driving and gassing it. (How many full-time TRAP deputies get a county ride?)

This, six years after the LA Times reported similar corruption afoot under Sheriff Baca.

Alan Skobin, whose day job is General Counsel of Galpin Motors (a huge donor to McDonnell and other politicians under the Galpin name, the Skobin family name, as well as the Boeckman family which owns Galpin), first became chummy with McDonnell when Skobin was an LAPD commissioner and McDonnell a member of the LAPD brass.

Skobin has been an LASD reserve deputy for many years. Though LASD.News doesn’t know him, we know he is generally well liked and none of this is to take away from whatever he has legitimately done on the department. But he also has outsized access and influence, which is directly related to his political and financial relationship with Sheriff McDonnell.

In fact, Skobin ran McDonnell’s secretive 2014 political action committee, the “Friends of Jim McDonnell 2014“. He has also been active in supporting McDonnell this cycle.

In 2004, after all the pay-for-play that went on during the Baca years, McDonnell touted his refusal to accept donations from department employees or vendors (though he gladly took money bundled by such characters). Generally, vendor and shady money instead flowed through Skobin’s PAC, which spent it on billboards (see below), radio ads and even more radio ads. Such donors were then rewarded with access to McDonnell at his election night bash, swearing in ceremony and other fancy events.

Examples of questionable donors to McDonnell’s PAC include:

IMG_3600

Once McDonnell was in office, Skobin was made Chief in charge of the “Reserve Leadership Team,” with direct access to McDonnell, often outside the chain of command.

Indeed, just three days ago, after LASD.News reported on how Sheriff McDonnell has destroyed LASD’s reserve program, we understand the Office of the Sheriff gave Skobin special access to send all reserves a defense of McDonnell through county systems to their personal email addresses. In the letter, which you can find here, Skobin defends McDonnell’s abuse of the reserve program and quibbles with a couple inaccuracies in our reporting to dismiss our overall conclusion that the reserve program is far weaker than it was four years ago.

In fact, LASD.News spoke with several reservists recently, with one saying of the current mood among LASD’s reserves:

“Everybody is laying-low, trying not to get fired.”

Sounds about how the regular deputies feel.

So, what did we get wrong in that article (with no access to official department resources)?

  • LASD reserves have decreased about 25% in three years, not 50%. However, this was after about 60 reserves were terminated by Interim Sheriff John Scott just prior to McDonnell’s taking office, so figuring that in, it’s about 30%.
  • Skobin quibbles with how many reserves are assigned to patrol versus search and rescue. But our numbers were clearly approximate. The real point was that out of 600 reserves, how many are actually, regularly going 10-8 and serving the community in a meaningful way on patrol? We think that number is pretty low. Figure each station has maybe 2-3 adding real value, so figure maybe 50 countywide. Morale and engagement are far lower now than they were 3-4 years ago.
  • And while Skobin suggests the approximately 200 reserves who have left in the last three years were bad/political apples, he fails to reconcile how many hard-working reserves have left or been forced out with how many ones with political juice (like himself or McDonnell donor Onnik Mehrabian) remained.
    IMG_3596
    Skobin With Sheriff Baca At The Height of the Pandora’s Box Federal Investigation (2013)

    img_3597.jpg
    Skobin Receiving An Award on Behalf of Donor Galpin Motors (2012)
  • We’re also not sure about LAPD’s reserve CCW issuance rules today. The LAPD reservists we know say they did not need CCWs because department policy allowed them to carry without it. Skobin says that’s not true. We’re not sure. Frankly, we don’t really care. LASD’s reserve program has been the leading program in the country for decades and LAPD shouldn’t be a model.The point is that we are hearing from numerous duly sworn and trained reserve deputy sheriffs that it’s gotten far harder to legally protect themselves off-duty in the last six months.Is it true or is not true that reserves are being made to meet a “good cause” threshold to receive a CCW, despite the fact that they are deputy sheriffs? And are peace officers being told they have failed to articulate “good cause” and are being denied?And if CCWs are not being issued to deputy sheriffs, what is the likelihood they are essentially being forced to carry illegally?

The reserve program is far weaker than it was four years ago. And we bet the state of the program and how it can be made better has gotten a lot more attention in the last two weeks since our reporting than in the four years before it.

(You’re welcome.)

 

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