County Re-Ups Contract With Platinum Advisors For Sacramento Lobbying

(November 4)  The County of San Bernardino has extended its long running contract with its state legislative lobbyist for another year.
Platinum Advisors, which has offices in Sacramento, San Francisco and Orange County, will be paid $218,400 between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015 for the provision of state legislative advocacy services.
Josh Candelaria, the county’s director of governmental and legislative affairs, in a report to the board of supervisors dated November 4, proposed that the county remain with the lobbying firm it has been using for over a decade.
According to Candelaria, “The County of San Bernardino utilizes advocacy services at both the federal and state level to advance the County’s legislative agenda. The recommended amendment will extend the contract with Platinum Advisors for the period of January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015, at an annual cost of $218,400. Platinum Advisors is a full service government affairs firm with over 16 years’ experience lobbying the California Legislature and executive branch. Effective representation with state administration, agencies, departments, and associations is critical to ensure the county’s legislative agenda is advanced. Platinum Advisors will assist in implementing the Countywide Vision through an effective state advocacy strategy which will allow the county to improve county operations and operate in a fiscally-responsible manner by increasing funding opportunities and influencing state law and policies as they relate to county priorities, programs and operations.”
As the result of a competitive process, on November 15, 2011 the board of supervisors approved Contract No. 11-863 with Platinum Advisors to provide state legislative advocacy services for the period of January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2014. Approval of this recommended action will exercise the first of two options, extending the term through December 31, 2015. Per county policy, all contracts for services (including purchase orders) in excess of $100,000 and/or the contract term exceeding three years must be approved by the board of supervisors.”
There has been some degree of controversy with regard to the county’s relationship with Platinum Advisors. Among those it employs is Brett Granlund, a 1972 graduate of Yucaipa High School who previously represented the Yucaipa/Mentone/Redlands area in the State Assembly.
In 2007, Los Angeles-based attorney Leonard Gumport at the county’s behest investigated the county’s acquisition of the Adelanto jail, making a finding that Granlund and Platinum Advisors, violated the terms of the county’s contract with Platinum by engaging in a conflict of interest and failing to give the county prior written notification of Platinum’s clients. One of those clients was Maranatha Corrections LLC, which is owned by Terry Moreland. Platinum, through Granlund, solicited the county to enter into a $43 million lease and option to purchase the Maranatha Prison in Adelanto, which was owned by Maranatha Corrections/Moreland.
According to Gumport, who had been hired to look into several instances of alleged corruption of county government, neither Platinum nor Granlund informed the county that they were representing the sellers, and the county entered into the purchase agreement without knowing about or being informed of a mold condition at the facility that resulted in additional costs of several million dollars to the county. That sale took place even though an “as is” appraisal reflecting the actual current value of the jail had not been completed, such that Platinum and Granlund had failed to protect the county’s interests.
In January 2005, when the board of supervisors voted to approve the lease and option to purchase the facility, the board had not been informed that Granlund and Platinum had advised and represented Maranatha in marketing the jail to county representatives, including then-county sheriff Gary Penrod, then-county real estate director David Slaughter and then county administrative officer Mark Uffer.
Granlund had previously involved himself in a questionable purchase of county property that allegedly benefited one of his close political associates, Jim Foster, who was at that time the chief of staff to then-supervisor Dennis Hansberger.
In 2001, after San Bernardino County barred its officials from directly purchasing county land or doing so through an intermediary, Foster did just that, using Granlund as his agent. Foster had become interested in a four-tenths of an acre residentially zoned parcel with mountain and valley views located adjacent to Wabash Avenue and Sunset Drive in Redlands, which the county had acquired in 1981. According to county records, Foster made an inquiry about a potential auction of the property in an e-mail exchange with a county property agent in 2001. After the property was put up for bid but not widely advertised, Foster used his authority as Hansberger’s chief of staff to instruct the property agent to again put it up for auction.
In 2001, at Foster’s direction, Granlund and his wife, Lonni, together with Louis and Amy Curti, purchased the property at that auction. In 2002, Foster and his wife, Linda, purchased the Granlunds’ portion of the property for $10,000. In 2004, the Fosters and the Curtis sold the property to George Saunders and Donald R. Paulson for $100,000, netting Foster a profit of somewhere near $40,000.
In 2005, when the matter became public, Foster was suspended from his post as Hansberger’s chief of staff and later was forced to resign after acknowledging he had violated county policy. No charges were filed against Granlund, though Foster maintained that Granlund had knowingly cooperated with him in the scheme to obtain the property.
A list of Platinum Advisors’ clients, which could be cross checked with current county vendors or applicants for county permits or project approval, was not publicly available.

Leave a Reply