To: Interested parties
From: The OCEA
A Fox in the Henhouse: Political operative convicted of election fraud now overseeing County elections
Despite being convicted of election fraud, a longtime insider and ally of politicians on the Orange County Board of Supervisors has recently been appointed to oversee the County’s elections office.
Longtime political operative Mark Denny, who is the County’s Chief Operating Officer, is now responsible for the Orange County Registrar of Voters office, a nonpartisan County office charged with administering elections and ensuring the public’s access to campaign finance disclosures. Denny pleaded guilty to election fraud in March 1996 in connection with a Republican scheme to manipulate the ballot in an Assembly District election, according to a Los Angeles Times report. He was placed on three years of probation.
After learning about Mr. Denny’s new assignment, County workers this week called on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to protect the integrity of the County’s elections and reassign Mr. Denny.
“Voting is the most sacred right of our democracy,” OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino wrote in an email to Supervisors, adding that placing an insider who was convicted of election fraud in such a critical and powerful position “demonstrates a clear disregard of the sanctity of the precious American privilege of the vote.”
Politicians on the County Board of Supervisors have not responded to the request.
In addition to being given oversight authority of the Orange County Registrar of Voters office, Mr. Denny also is now responsible for overseeing the Probation Department.
Read more about Mr. Denny’s conviction in the Los Angeles Times.
Denny’s new assignment is the latest example of the culture of corruption in County government described by the Orange County Grand Jury in recent reports. Last year, the Grand Jury called for an ethics commission to clean it up, but the Board of
Supervisors rejected the recommendation. Meanwhile, a recent analysis of campaign finance documents and voting records revealed that County Supervisors have awarded hundreds millions of dollars in contracts to campaign contributors, including a company convicted of fraud, and allowed special interest lobbyists to help write policies that benefit themselves instead of Orange County residents.
Why we are writing: We truly believe that taxpayers, county workers and our communities will never be treated fairly until the corruption ends. It’s time for residents to stand with the Grand Jury and county workers to clean up Orange County.