By Mark Gutglueck
The Hesperia City Council this week scheduled a vote to take place at its upcoming October 15 meeting to choose Fourth District Councilman Jeremiah Brosowske’s replacement.
At its September 3 meeting, the council voted 3-to-2 to remove Brosowske from the council based on what Mayor Larry Bird and councilmen Bill Holland and Cameron Gregg maintain was convincing suspicion that Brosowske is not actually living in the apartment unit at the Sultana Mulberry Apartment Complex at 16784 Sultana Street he secured on September 1 last year just prior to beginning his 2018 campaign for the city council in Hesperia’s Fourth District.
Brosowske was able to run for that position as an incumbent councilman because in July 2018 the city council, as it was then composed, had appointed him to replace Russ Blewett, who had died two months previously. Brosowske had moved from outside of the city into temporary lodging at the home of former Hesperia Mayor Bill Jensen at 8075 E Avenue to be eligible for that appointment. At that point, the 27-year-old Brosowske was considered to be an up-and-coming star within the Republican Party, who had the support of former San Bernardino County Assessor/First District Supervisor Bill Postmus, Jensen and several others.
Holland, who had succeeded Blewett in the mayor’s post upon the latter’s passing, supported Brosowske’s appointment, as did then-Councilman Paul Russ and Councilwoman Rebekah Swanson. Larry Bird, who was then a councilman, opposed Brosowske’s appointment.
Brosowske grew up in Apple Valley, graduated from Granite Hills High School and developed an appetite for politics nearly a decade ago, as a fledgling college student at Victor Valley College. He was elected to the Associated Student Body Council and Senate, serving in the post of parliamentarian and ultimately rising to the position of ASB vice president. Thereafter, Brosowske gravitated toward the Party of Lincoln, working initially in the trenches on behalf of a handful of local Republican candidates, making acquaintances among and then forging friendships and alliances with several of the region’s GOP officeholders. Bringing his youthful energy to bear, Brosowske worked assiduously toward meeting party goals and by 2014, he was taken under the wing of Curt Hagman, a former Chino Hills mayor, California assemblyman, and now the Fourth District county supervisor who this year acceded to being chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and who in 2014 was the chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee. Hagman arranged for Brosowske’s hiring as the executive director of the Republican Central Committee, a position that was not highly remunerative but which carried with it an impressive sounding title, and no small degree of influence. In that capacity, Brosowske ingratiated himself with ever more of the Republican Party stalwarts in San Bernardino County.
In 2016, he ran for election to the Republican Central Committee representing the First District himself, but was unsuccessful. Despite that personal setback, he continued to work in conjunction with other Republican candidates, including that of Rebekah Swanson for the Hesperia City Council.
Brosowske had also entered into a close working relationship with Bill Postmus, who was a decade-and-a-half ago one of the most powerful political figures in the region when he was simultaneously the chairman of both the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee. Postmus would subsequently successfully run for San Bernardino County assessor, the most powerful taxing authority in the county, before his political career foundered in subsequent scandal. Nevertheless, Postmus, who had been among the five youngest members of the board of supervisors in county history as well as the second youngest chairman of the board of supervisors, remained obsessed with politics. Through a Wyoming-based company he had founded, Mountain States Consulting Group, he remained highly involved in politics in San Bernardino County, particularly in the San Bernardino County desert region. He used the Mountain States Consulting Group to take in money from various individuals, entities and companies who had a dog in the hunt with regard to San Bernardino County governmental decisions, and used the lax corporate reporting requirements that are applied to companies in Wyoming to pass that money through to local politicians in San Bernardino County and the High Desert in a way in which the actual original source of the money could not be identified when it reached the campaign coffers of the elected officials or candidates who received it. In addition to trafficking in this type of political influence buying and selling, Postmus used Mountain States Consulting Group as a launch pad, of sorts, for Brosowske’s political career. Perceiving in Brosowske the same potential he had once possessed, Postmus continued his political career vicariously through Brosowske. The assistance Postmus extended to Brosowske included hiring him as a Mountain States Consulting Group employee, allowing Brosowske to hold body and soul together while he engaged in the time-and-energy-consuming efforts of instigating his foray into political office. Postmus’s had been a major hidden hand in getting Brosowske appointed to the Hesperia City Council in the aftermath of Blewett’s passing.
In the 2018 Hesperia Municipal Election, the first one in the city’s 30-year history in which council members were elected by-district rather than at-large, Bill Holland was re-elected to the city council in the newly created Second District and Paul Russ was ousted by 28-year-old Cameron Gregg by 81 votes in the city’s Third District. It appeared that Brosowske had been chased from office, having been outdistanced by Brigit Bennington in the Fourth District, 1,011 votes or 50.75 to 981 votes or 49.25 percent in the first vote count. But over the next four weeks as straggling absentee mail ballots arrived and were counted along with a handful of provisional ballots that were deemed qualified, Brosowske edged ahead of Bennington, gaining election ultimately by a margin of 1,688 votes or 52.08 percent to 1,553 or 47.92 percent.
During that election campaign, for a reason that remains unclear to most if not all of the public, Holland and Brosowske came to loggerheads. By March, an effort to qualify a recall ballot measure against Holland was underway. Shortly thereafter, Holland was lodging public accusations that Brosowske was in some fashion behind the recall effort. Thereafter, Jensen, whose provision of living quarters in his house last year to Brosowske to thereby qualify him as a Hesperia resident had been crucial to originally getting him appointed to the council, had served as a broker on the sale of a coffee shop owned by Holland and was one Holland’s primary political backers. Jensen at that point found himself at odds with Brosowske, despite Jensen having played a key role in convincing Holland to appoint Brosowske to the council. Brosowske’s actions, his comings and goings, became the object of close scrutiny.
In May, when Brosowske was hired into a lucrative position as assistant general manager at the West Valley Water District in Rialto, his whereabouts became far easier to track than they had been previously, when he was working as a political consultant without operating from a fixed address. Those tailing Brosowske reported that he was actually residing in Rancho Cucamonga, driving to work in the morning from a specific location there to the West Valley Water District headquarters and eventually returning to Rancho Cucamonga in the evening.
Hesperia Recreation and Park District Board Member Kelly Gregg, the father of Cameron Gregg and Hesperia School District Board Member Cody Greg, is the head of operations of True Liberty Protection Services. True Liberty’s personnel carried out a concerted around-the-clock monitoring of Brosowske’s apartment at 16784 Sultana Street. According to Kelly Gregg, Brosowske was a virtual no-show at his Hesperia apartment, making appearances there only on rare occasions. According to Kelly Gregg, Brosowske has claimed or established residences in Apple Valley, Brea and Hesperia.
At the September 3 city council meeting, the council first voted 3-to-2, with Brosowske and Swanson dissenting, to have City Manager Nils Bentsen and City Attorney Eric Dunn return with options for having an attorney or private investigator carry out an investigation of Brosowske’s residency status, with the understanding that the council could then vote to contract at a future date with the individual or firm selected to carry out that probe. Curiously, the council then voted by the identical 3-to-2 margin, with Bird, Gregg and Holland again prevailing, to remove Brosowske from office based upon the assumption the not-yet-identified-or-hired investigator’s findings would indicate Brosowske was not living in Hesperia, and therefore did not meet the residency requirement to be serving as Fourth District councilman. That vote appeared to be logically out of keeping with the previous vote to undertake the investigation, several individuals including both Brosowske’s supporters and those who are at political odds with him pointed out, since the undertaking of an independent investigation into Brosowske’s living arrangements was widely viewed as an admission that sufficient facts were yet needed to warrant removal action against Brosowske.
Preparatory to the September 3 meeting, Brosowske’s Corona-based attorney, Chad Morgan, had submitted to the city 211 pages of documentation supporting Brosowske’s claim of residency. Included in that documentation was Browsowske’s eight page rental contract for Unit 7 at 16784 Sultana Street in Hesperia, signed by Brosowske on August 31, 2018 and L. Christensen, representing Sultana Mulberry Apartments LLC, electricity bills from Southern California Edison in Brosowske’s name for “16784 Sultana St. Apt 7 Hesperia, CA 92345” for 12 months from September 2018 until August 2019, similar bills from Southwest Gas to Jeremiah Brosowske for residential gas service to a service address at “16784 Sultana St #7” in Hesperia for the same timeframe, a bill from Spectrum for internet service in Brosowske’s name at the 16784 Sultana Street Unit 7 address for August 2019, and a color photocopy of Brosowske’s driver license, which gives his address as “16784 Sultana St 7 Hesperia, CA 92345.”
While the rental agreement and the bills established that Brosowske had arrangements to live at the 16784 Sultana Street Unit 7 address, the evidence consisting of the utility bills was undercut by the consideration that the service address on the bills does not match the billing address, which is 16036 Tude Rd. in Apple Valley, corresponding to the home of Brosowske’s mother and father.
Also included in the compendium Morgan presented were a series of text messages that passed between Brosowske’s cell phone and that of Bill Jensen, including ones on June 12, 2018 and on June 28, 2018. Those on the former date show that Brosowske was earnestly seeking a place to live in Hesperia. Those text messages on the latter date seem to indicate that Brosowske is at that point living at Jensen’s Hesperia premises, with Jensen referring to Brosowske as his “roommate.”
According to Morgan, “as a matter of law” Brosowske qualifies as a Hesperia resident and Hesperia Fourth District resident based upon his intent to set up a domicile in Hesperia, and his residency is confirmed by his action in actually moving into the city and setting up his living quarters there.
With Morgan as his representative, Brosowske is pursuing a quo warranto proceeding with the California Attorney General’s Office, which is intended to make a prima facie case that he has established residency in Hesperia, thereby giving him leave to sue the city in court to be reinstated to the city council.
His client, Morgan said, “does live in Hesperia” and the action the city has taken in removing Brosowske from office “exposes the city to liability for damages and attorney fees for having to defend his right to hold the office.” A number of residents, including ones who count themselves among Brosowske’s supporters and a few who are hostile to him and his political agenda, advised the city ahead of his removal to refrain from doing so unless and until it found itself on sound legal footing to establish unequivocally that Brosowske does not live where he says he does. Since his removal, some of those have suggested the city is being cavalier and profligate with taxpayer money by inviting legal action it stands a good chance of losing.
The Sentinel has learned, however, that the council is functioning on information, perhaps illicitly obtained, which has given its members absolute confidence that Brosowske has been regularly residing at a location outside the city. One report is that the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has used its capability of collecting cell tower data to compile a profile of Brosowske’s precise whereabouts on a daily, indeed hourly and minute-by-minute, basis going back to the time he was first appointed to the council. Because cellular signal emissions propagate over the airwaves rather than across a wire, no warrant is required in capturing them. While there may be legal complication in the sheriff’s department’s use of agency-to-agency privilege in sharing with certain Hesperia city officials the information it has gleaned with regard to Brosowske’s whereabouts, thus making the raw cellular phone data unusable or inadmissible in constructing a case against Brosowske in a court of law, the information the data embodies puts city officials in a position of strength in proceeding against Brosowske since it will lead them to the gathering of other information that could be used to make the case that Brosowske was only on the rarest of occasions present over the last 13 months at Unit 7 at 16784 Sultana Street in Hesperia.
A signal that the case against Brosowske is a slam dunk came Tuesday night when, with Councilman Bill Holland absent, the council voted 3-to-0 to appoint Brosowske’s successor on October 15. Councilwoman Rebekah Swanson, whose political career has been largely advanced by Postmus and Mountain States Consulting Group, who was a Brosowske ally and who at times on September 3 passionately, stridently and eloquently inveighed against removing Brosowske from office, on October 1 docilely went along with the council’s move to make an appointment and replace him at the next council meeting.
The council by law has 60 days to make an appointment to fill a council vacancy or schedule an election to have the voters choose a replacement. Practically, that meant the council has until November 2 to make a determination as to what it is going to do in the aftermath of the action it took against Brosowske. Essentially, the council had three choices. One was to appoint his replacement to remain in place until the next regularly-scheduled election, provided that election did not occur any sooner than 114 days after Brosowske’s removal, which in this case is the March 3, 2020 California Primary Election. A second option was to appoint his replacement to remain in place until a specially-scheduled election that did not occur any sooner than 114 days nor more than 180 days after Brosowske’s removal. A third option was to appoint Brosowske’s successor to serve until the next general election, which in this case will correspond with the November 3, 2020 Presidential election.
Prior to the council voting, resident Bob Nelson, who has been a candidate for city council previously, recommended that the “residents of District 4 be allowed to choose their own representative.”
James Blocker, who has also run for city council previously, said the council should use its authority to fill the post, citing the expense of holding a special election. “You have the wisdom to appoint the correct person,” he said.
While there was no official indication from the city council as to whom it would choose on October 15, sentiment and belief among a sizable percentage of residents in the city of 96,000 is that Brigit Bennington should supplant Brosowske. Bennington was the only other candidate beside Brosowske in the 4th District race in November, one whom Brosowske narrowly defeated after conducting a campaign in which there were $46,032.93 in expenditures from his campaign war chest and untraceable expenditures from what were represented as “independent” committees but which were in fact coordinated by Brosowske’s political team, from which emanated “political hit” and “attack pieces” targeting Bennington, including a blitz of such material in the latter stages of the campaign as polling conducted by political consultants hired by the Brosowske campaign showed substantial name recognition and positive name identification and continuing resilience on Bennington’s part in the face of a far more expensive and aggressive campaign being waged by Brosowske’s forces. In the hours and days after the polls closed, Bennington led Brosowske by a razor-thin margin, but her lead evaporated as late mail-in ballots came in. Several residents have voiced the opinion that Bennington, a longtime Hesperia resident, has earned a place on the council due to her close loss to, and the obloquy she sustained from, a well-financed carpetbagger whose loyalty to the city has since fallen into question.
By Mark Gutglueck