You don’t have to be too cynical to know that patronage hires aren’t uncommon in local government. Sometimes they’re no big deal, but once in a while, a patronage hire involves someone who has no business doing the job in any way, shape, or form.
At the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, one of those hires is turning heads, and some of those heads ought to roll as a result.
Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., who has led the L.A. County Department of Public Health since 2017, is no stranger to hiring cronies, but her hiring of Carl Kemp as Chief Communications Officer in the Environmental Health Division in 2019 came a mere two years after he went to prison on public corruption-related charges.
Over at our sister site Red State, Jennifer Van Laar tells the story in a bombshell report.
“This is how a politically-connected, recently-released felon who was convicted of filing a fraudulent tax return (for failing to report $750,000 in ‘lobbying’ income, including nearly $220,000 from a drug trafficking kingpin), Carl Kemp, came to work as Chief Communications Officer in the Environmental Health Division of the LA County Department of Public Health,” she writes.
Jen points out that environmental health isn’t where someone goes to make himself famous, but a bureaucrat can shape policy, especially when he or she is as connected as Kemp is.
Kemp knows a lot of people, and he needed a job once he was off federal parole in late 2018. His wife, Claudia Gutierrez, was the longtime legal aide to former Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and a confidential source tells RedState that she leveraged that relationship and asked Ridley-Thomas to get her husband a job, and Ridley-Thomas had Ferrer hire Kemp in 2019.
But Kemp isn’t exactly as pure as the driven snow. The fact that he served time on corruption charges ought to have disqualified him from employment, at least so soon after going free. But when you hear the details, you wonder why Ferrer would even touch him with a ten-foot pole.
Kemp, who was once a powerful government relations/communications consultant based on Long Beach, was convicted in November 2016. His client, John Melvin Walker, is a twice-convicted felon who was therefore not eligible to own a marijuana dispensary, so Walker and his attorney set up a number of corporations and installed owners who were eligible for a permit, but Walker was the true owner. Walker moved a literal ton of marijuana through these storefronts and used his connections with Kemp and a local attorney, Richard Bridenstine, to harass at least one local business. Walker paid Kemp $4,500 in cash for a month for a number of years for lobbying and spokesman duties. As a part of his plea agreement, Kemp admitted that he knew the funds were coming from a criminal enterprise.
The court sentenced Kemp to one year and one day in prison, but he only served ten months. Two years later, he was on the county’s payroll in a key position.
“While Los Angeles County has a Fair Chance Initiative, which allows those with criminal records to be hired, it’s unbelievable that Ferrer was able to hire Kemp, who had never worked for the County before, in such a position just two years after he went to prison on public corruption-related charges,” Jen concludes her report.
She promises to share more details from her exclusive sources, so check out her report, then pop some popcorn and get ready for more details on this wild story of corruption and cronyism.