By Mark Gutglueck
This week, barely a year after then-27-year-old political juggernaut Jeremiah Brosowske burst into Southern California’s political sanctum by storm and assumed a momentum the state’s GOP establishment hoped would carry him into residency at 1526 H Street in Sacramento by January 2027, the newest wunderkind of Golden State politics found himself ignominiously cast out of office.
Brosowske’s Hesperia City Council colleagues, including one whose involvement was key to his making the transition from a dynamic backroom political operative to being an elected officeholder on track to move into the California Legislature, Congress and the governor’s mansion, first instituted an investigation aimed at establishing he has engaged in multiple felonies consisting of fraud, perjury and election code violations, and then voted to vacate his Second District council seat based on what they asserted was his non-residency in Hesperia.
The development virtually ends the now 28-year-old Brosowske’s unbridled ambition, and severely complicates his relationship with the Republican political establishment in San Bernardino County, the home base from which Brosowske was expected to launch the next stage of his political rise, consisting of a run either for First District San Bernardino County supervisor, the California State Assembly or U.S. Congress in 2020. Ironically, the city council’s action comes in the almost immediate aftermath of three other developments – the release of his political mentor Bill Postmus from state prison, the announcement of incumbent First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood’s decision to not seek reelection next year, and incumbent 8th District Congressman Paul Cook’s contemplated retirement from the U.S. House of Representatives – that would have otherwise greatly enhanced Brosowske’s prospects for upward political attainment.
There was a dual track to the council majority’s action on Tuesday night. In the first of those actions, the council signed off on hiring an investigator to determine whether or not Brosowske previously met and now meets the residency requirements to have held the at-large council position he was appointed to last year and the district council position he was elected to later last year while he enjoyed incumbency in the appointed at-large position. In the second action, the council elected to remove him from office based on the assumption he does not meet and never did meet the residency requirement, despite the investigation the first action authorized into that very question not yet being carried out. For several observers, including some who are hostile to Brosowske and his political agenda, the second action was seen as not only premature but risky.
Nevertheless, Brosowske’s removal from office comes as a severe blow, if not yet an actual death knell to what only a short time ago seemed to be the most dynamic, overpowering and consuming political movement in San Bernardino County in the last decade.
Brosowske, who grew up in Apple Valley and graduated from Granite Hills High School, 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.
San Bernardino County was then one of the last bastions of Republicanism in the State of California. Brosowske gravitated toward the Party of Lincoln, in no small measure because of the way in which that party, at least in San Bernardino County, has been willing to accept the enthusiasm of young acolytes and harness their intensity by giving them responsibility and demanding assignments within the county party structure which have traditionally been rewarded less with monetary compensation and more with the conferring of impressive sounding titles and positions.
Bringing his youthful energy to bear, Brosowske worked assiduously on the candidacies of several Republican candidates. He was taken under the wing of Curt Hagman, a former Chino Hills mayor, California assemblyman, and now the Fourth District county supervisor who has 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. In that capacity, Brosowske ingratiated himself with a multiplicity of Republican Party stalwarts in San Bernardino County.
While he was in that executive director position in 2016, Brosowske made a political move on his own behalf, seeking election to the Republican Central Committee, upon which there are eight allotted slots representing the First Supervisorial District, eight allotted slots representing the county’s Second District, nine allotted slots representing the county’s Third District, five allotted slots representing the county’s Fourth District and three representing the county’s Fifth District. The county’s First District encompasses a major portion of the county’s desert region. Eleven people ran in that election, including Hesperia councilmen Eric Schmidt and Paul Russ, Hesperia Unified School District Board Member Eric Swanson and his wife, Rebekah Swanson. Though Brosowske had considerable experience by that point functioning in political circles, he had little in the way of name recognition among the electorate and he finished eleventh in the race. Unfazed by his temporary setback at the hands of Republican voters, Brosowske remained loyal to the party. Hagman, as San Bernardino County’s Fourth District Supervisor, offered Brosowske a position with his office as an analyst. Brosowske, who had managed Paul Russ’s successful 2014 campaign for Hesperia City Council, remained active in promoting Republican candidates in local races, including that of Rebekah Swanson for Hesperia City Council in the 2016 race, who emerged victorious in that contest. Brosowske’s skill was evident; virtually every campaign he worked on, with the exception of his own, was successful.
Despite Brosowske’s inability to vault electorally into a position on the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee, there was a recognition among a core group in the local GOP that Brosowske possessed the charisma, attitude, perseverant dedication and temperament the party needed in its leadership and elected office holders to offset the increasing gap favoring the Democrats over the Republicans in San Bernardino County in terms of voter registration numbers. Among the Republican Party’s current crop of office holders including Hagman, a consensus had grown that Brosowske should be groomed for higher office, including supervisor, state legislator and congressman.
Unrecognized by many at the time was that Brosowske is a protégé of Bill Postmus, a former First District county supervisor, former chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, former chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee and former San Bernardino County assessor. Though Postmus had been felled by political scandal that overtook him in 2009 after he had spent slightly less than a decade at the pinnacle of politics and government in San Bernardino County, he was by 2013 seeking to make a reentry into the political game by activity he was choreographing from the shadows through Mountain States Consulting Group, a mysterious organization being run out of a post office box at the UPS Store at the Victor Valley Mall, with the address 12127 Mall Blvd Suite 188 Victorville, CA 92392-7665. Mountain States Consulting Group was a limited liability company set up by Postmus in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 2013. One of the advantages of setting the company up in Wyoming was that Wyoming allows those who create limited liability companies to do so without disclosing who such an entity’s corporate officers are. As Postmus at that time was awaiting, pursuant to his scheduled testimony against others, on being sentenced following his conviction on 14 felony political corruption counts entered in 2011, he was attempting to keep from the public his role in funneling money provided by the donors to Mountain States to a host of San Bernardino County politicians including Hesperia City Council Candidate Rebekah Swanson, who received $3,300 in loans in two installments of $1,800 and $1,500 from Mountain States during her successful 2016 campaign.
As one of his last accomplishments before he was imprisoned on political corruption charges last year, Postmus utilized the opportunity that presented itself when Hesperia Mayor Russ Blewett died in May 2018 to engineer Brosowske’s appointment to the Hesperia City Council.
Achieving that goal required some doing, a whole lot of maneuvering, and even more manipulating. Perhaps the greatest challenge was that Brosowske was not a Hesperia resident, and was therefore not qualified to serve on the city council. Postmus overcame that technicality by laying the arm on his longtime associates and the remnants of his once-powerful political machine living in Hesperia to see if any of them might be willing to offer Brosowske quarters within their homes so he might claim a domicile there. Ultimately, Postmus persuaded former Hesperia Mayor/City Councilman Bill Jensen, who was elected in 1998 and went on to become a member of the Bill Postmus-affiliated ruling Hesperia City Council coalition that involved Dennis Nowicki, Jim Lindley and Tad Honeycutt, to allow Brosowske to claim residency at his home at 8075 E Avenue, whereupon Brosowske immediately re-registered to vote as a resident at that address with the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters. The next element of the political coup Postmus had to pull off to secure Brosowske a council berth was to convince the members of the Hesperia City Council to not allow Blewett’s vacant position to simply remain unfilled until after the then-upcoming November 2018 election, at which point Blewett’s term was set to expire.
In Hesperia, the mayor is not directly elected by the city’s voters but instead is chosen by the city council from among its members. Bill Holland had acceded to the mayor’s position following Blewett’s passing. The Holland-led council, which included Rebekah Swanson, who was beholden to both Postmus and Brosowske for her success in being elected in 2016, and Paul Russ, who was a longtime Bill Postmus associate and had likewise been assisted in his electoral effort in 2014 by Brosowske, fell in line with Postmus’s request to move to fill the gap on the council by appointment, waiting just long enough to ensure that the selection took place after the requisite three weeks following Brosowske’s re-registration to vote as a Hesperia resident living at Jenson’s home, located at 8075 E Avenue.
Thereafter, in a secret arrangement that Holland has come to regret and which he is loathe to acknowledge, Postmus fixed it with Holland, Swanson and Russ, Republicans all – to rig Brosowske’s appointment. Participating in the arrangement was Jensen, a former Hesperia mayor and city councilman who had been one of Postmus’s political associates.
Brosowske, along with Brigit Bennington, Victoria Dove, Russell Harris, Linda Holder, Robert Nelson, Anthony Rhoades, Veronica Rios and Chester Watts, applied for the council position appointment. On July 11, 2018 the city council held a specially-scheduled meeting to interview the candidates and thereupon make an appointment. All of the candidates participated in that forum except Watts, who was infirm and could not attend. The appointment candidates were excluded from the meeting chambers so they would not have an opportunity to hear the questions in advance of their own interviews. Holland, as the mayor, arranged to have Brosowske interviewed second last. Jensen, after witnessing the interviews of the first four candidates, retreated to the foyer in City Hall, where Brosowske was waiting to be called in for his interview. He provided Brosowske with the questions being asked and an outline of the responses his rivals for the position were giving. With that advantage, Brosowske came in and gave a competent enough performance that appointing him would not appear unreasonable. The council voted 3-to-1, with Russ, Holland and Swanson prevailing and Councilman Larry Bird dissenting, to appoint Brosowske.
In November 2018, Hesperia was scheduled to hold, and indeed did hold, its first by-district election as opposed to at-large elections in its 30-year history as an incorporated city. On September 1, 2018, Brosowske rented a unit at the Sultana Mulberry Apartment Complex at 16784 Sultana Street in Hesperia after providing a security deposit of $1,000 and agreeing to pay $875 per month for a full year. The Sultana Mulberry Apartments are located within Hesperia’s Fourth Electoral District. The 2018 election was to involve races in Hesperia’s Second, Third and Fourth Districts. The primary factor in Brosowske’s renting of the Sultana Mulberry unit was to establish his qualification to vie in that year’s election in the Fourth District.
On the strength of his incumbency, the advice and guidance Postmus provided him throughout that campaign prior to the former county supervisor having to report for incarceration in the state prison system on November 30, 2018 and a campaign war chest of a staggering proportion that was larger than all of the campaign accounts of the eight other candidates involved in the Hesperia municipal races that year and ten times the size of the next-most well-financed candidate among those eight, Brosowske outdistanced the other candidate vying in the city’s newly created Fourth District, Brigit Bennington, by a margin of 1,688 votes or 52.08 percent to 1,552 votes or 47.92 percent.
Despite his having reached two key milestones in his progression toward higher – indeed, much higher – political office, Brosowske was yet young and brash and was limited by not having gone through and learned from a succession of arduous campaigns that perhaps ended in defeat but which provided the foundation for both name recognition and an understanding of political give-and-take and the principle of compromise. At times impetuous and less-than-fully polished, Brosowske engaged in a handful of faux pas that a more seasoned politician would have by practice most likely avoided. Prior to the conclusion of the November election, he came to loggerheads, for reasons that are still not publicly clear, with Holland, who was likewise standing for reelection to the council. Ultimately, Holland would emerge victorious within a field of five. In a nip-and-tuck head-to-head contest in the city’s District 3, Cameron Gregg, one of Brosowske’s contemporaries, outfought the third incumbent in the race, Russ, for votes, 2,288 or 51.92 percent to 2,119 or 48.08 percent. Ironically, Russ had diverted from his own campaign war chest to Brosowske’s campaign $7,933.75, which, perhaps if spent on his own electioneering effort, might have prevented his loss.
After the new Hesperia Council was installed in December, with two of its council members not having eclipsed the age of 30, Hesperia made a claim for having the most youthful municipal political leadership among the county’s 24 incorporated cities and towns, rivaled only by Adelanto, with its three council members between the ages of 30 and 35.
Inexplicably however, once comfortably established following what was his first electoral victory since his tenure as a student representative at Victor Valley College, Brosowske engaged in a series of actions that not only interrupted his seemingly irresistible momentum, but which has now come to reverse it. In a move that cut right across the heart of the support base he had been cultivating for a half-dozen years previously, while still avowing loyalty to the Republican Party, Brosowske nevertheless publicly enunciated his affinity for Libertarian values over those of his own party. In particular, Brosowske broke ranks with a significant number of Republicans, who were and remain reluctant to embrace the liberalization of the State of California’s marijuana laws which have uprated acceptance of the use of medical marijuana – as was codified with the passage of the Compassionate Use of Marijuana Act by California’s voters in 1996 – to tolerance of the substance for its intoxicative effect with the passage of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in 2016. The Party of Lincoln touts itself as pro-law enforcement and considers marijuana legalization to be a step toward chaos and widespread criminality. Brosowske put out publicly that marijuana use should be tolerated by society, that its legalization is in keeping with libertarian principles, and making pot shops as plentiful as liquor stores represents a way of rejuvenating the economy. He announced his readiness to work with applicants for cannabis-oriented businesses to assist them in obtaining government-issued permits and licenses to operate. Seemingly overnight, Brosowske renunciated his standing as the darling of the conservative establishment, an element of his appeal as a candidate.
At the same time, a slew of developmental interests, including Jeff Burum and James Previti, Jr., the latter of whom once supported Holland, earlier this year hatched a recall effort against Holland. While Bird and Gregg were a bit taken aback by the move to oust one of their colleagues and have made a show of closing ranks with Holland to protect the political herd in Hesperia from being picked off one-by-one by what they perceive to be special-interest jackals, Brosowske in a show of loyalty to his political backers essentially steered clear of the fray. After having been rocked back on his heels by the recall attempt, Holland availed himself of the campaign disclosure documentation the recall advocates had to file, learning who those bankrolling the effort against him are. A simple cross-referencing of the lists of Brosowske’s campaign supporters with the Holland recall backers turned up several commonalities. Puerile denials from Brosowske that he was involved in the recall provoked outright accusations that he was indeed spearheading the move to oust Holland, including such an accusation from Holland himself. Thereupon, Brosowske hotheadedly responded that he would support whatever candidate to replace Holland emerged out of the recall effort, which for Bird, Gregg and Holland was taken as adequate indication that Brosowske is a disruptive influence on the council. Hesperia Is an ardently Republican town. Brosowske’s siding with Previti and Burum against Holland was seen as a violation of the 11th Commandment, the prohibition against speaking ill of a fellow Republican.
As the discomfiture with Brosowske grew, the calls for him to make a complete repudiation of the recall effort against Holland transitioned to talk of a possible recall of Broswske in response. With Bill Postmus yet in prison, no hand to keep the coalition of Hesperia politicians from turning on themselves existed. Thereafter, the talk of recalling Brosowske matured into a determination to carry out further research into the observations of many that Brosowske was not in fact residing in Hesperia, with the idea being that he might be removed from office for non-residency.
Brosowske was thereafter given the cold shoulder by his council colleagues at every turn. When it was revealed in May that the West Valley Water District in Rialto had installed Brosowske as the district’s assistant general manager at an annual salary of $189,592 augmented by $62,500 in benefits and perquisites, swelling his total compensation package to over a quarter of a million dollars a year despite Brosowske’s complete lack of expertise, experience, certification, qualification or training in the arena of municipal water-related operations, Brosowske’s good fortune was widely perceived in San Bernardino County’s political and governmental circles as an egregious act of blatant cronyism. In short order, it was readily established that the same set of moneyed interests who were Brosowske’s political backers, were similarly bankrolling the political careers of a majority of the West Valley Water District’s board of directors and were the political patrons of those gunning for Holland’s removal. Calls for Brosowske to clarify his residency situation escalated, and moves preparatory toward challenging his occupancy of the Fourth District council seat in Hesperia progressed.
Still, Brosowske’s presence at the apartment at 16784 Sultana Street in Hesperia he had begun renting on September 1, 2018 following his selection to the Hesperia City Council was sporadic, at best, corresponding, most often, to the night of the twice monthly Hesperia City Council meetings. Blithely, he carried on as he had, in actuality living in Rancho Cucamonga, not aware of the degree to which his lack of presence at the Sultana Street Apartment, which typically extended for more than ten days at a time between his appearances there and on occasion extended to nearly a month, was being monitored and documented.
Last month, pointed inquiries on the topic escalated and at the August 20 council meeting Holland and Gregg called for items to be placed on the September 3 council meeting agenda giving the council the option of contracting for an investigation into Brosowske’s residency status and removing him from office.
Fully anticipating what was coming his way, Brosowske hired Corona-based attorney Chad Morgan, who had represented former Assemblyman and current Costa Mesa Councilman Allan Mansoor in Mansoor’s successful effort to prevent his removal from the Costa Mesa City Council following an effort to challenge him with regard to his non-residency when he temporary relocated into a home in Newport Beach after his election while the residence he later moved into in Costa Mesa was undergoing renovation. Brosowske and Morgan went to court on August 30, four days before the September 3 council meeting, to attempt to convince Judge David Cohn to block the city from removing Brosowske from office. Cohn refused to issue such an order.
Brosowske and Morgan came to Tuesday night’s council meeting, armed with a 211-page compendium of documents, including Brosowske’s rental agreement for Unit 7 at the Sultana Mulberry Apartments, Brosowske’s utility bills for the apartment, printouts of text messages between him and Jensen during the weeks and months during which Brosowske was seeking appointment to the council and had been appointed to the council but before he had moved into the Sultana Mulberry Apartments, as well as thereafter; Attorney General opinions relating to the Mansoor residency challenge and another residency challenge of an elected office holder, Ridgecrest Councilman Wallace Martin; the city council agenda for the September 3 meeting at which Broswske’s removal was scheduled and a sworn declaration from Brosowske asserting he lived at the 16784 Sultana Street Unit 7 address.
At the Tuesday, September 3 city council hearings for both authorizing the investigation and making the removal, Brosowske’s supporters and detractors weighed in with public comments, offering, variously, statements suggesting or asserting that Brosowske was living in Hesperia or that he was residing elsewhere. Notably, Jensen, whose advocacy of Brosowske’s appointment and provision of his premises at 8075 E Avenue as living quarters for Brosowske and at which Brosowske registered to vote just a month before his appointment to the city council in June 2018, showed up to declare that Brosowske had never lived at his home.
Not recognized by most of those at, observing or participating in the meeting was the hidden hand of Bill Postmus, who, unbeknownst to most but not all of those there, had recently been released from prison. Though one of his felony convictions – participating in a governmental conflict of interest – bars him from ever holding elected office again in California, Postmus yet has designs toward remaining a major political player vicariously through any of several of his protégés, including Brosowske. He was thus helping to orchestrate – from his remote redoubt in Wrightwood – the effort to keep the council from removing Brosowske from office. That included sending one of his closest political and business associates, Dino DeFazio, to the proceedings to have him speak on Brosowske’s behalf. In his comments to the council, DeFazio said that in the summer of 2018 he had accompanied Brosowske to Los Angles to retrieve Jensen after Jensen’s vehicle had been locked away at a parking structure. Upon returning from Los Angeles to Hesperia well after midnight, DeFazio said, Brosowske went straightaway into Jensen’s house to go to sleep, a clear indication that he was living there at the time. DeFazio referenced the experience of former Victorville City Councilwoman Angela Valles who married, while she was still in office, former Apple Valley Town Councilman Rick Roelle. Valles was allowed to remain in office in Victorville despite the consideration that everyone knew she was essentially residing a majority of the time in Apple Valley at that point.
Upon the council dais, angled at Brosowske most sharply, of course, was Holland. Only slightly less intensely determined to militate against Brosowske was Councilman Cameron Gregg, who insisted, “I’m not asking for a prosecution. I’m only asking for an impartial investigation to determine if a crime was committed or not. This is not the same nor in any way committed to the issue of vacating Councilmember Brosowske’s seat. There are state laws and city ordinances that I believe may have been broken and need a fair and impartial criminal investigation to move forward so we can all get some clarity in this matter.”
During the discussion of the first item related to Brosowske’s residency status consisting of the call for an investigation, it was noted that the city did not have the option of allowing the matter to be looked into by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office because Brosowske had worked on current District Attorney Jason Anderson’s campaign last year.
While the discussion yet pertained to the need for an investigation, Councilwoman Rebekah Swanson, whose political career in large measure was boosted by assistance from Postmus and Brosowske, while not contesting the notion that adequate grounds to bring Brosowske’s true residency into question existed, expressed the not unreasonable view that the city did not need to go to great expense to make the determination of whether Brosowske was in compliance with all applicable residency requirements. Swanson noted that the criteria used in determining where an elected official’s domicile actually is consist of the elected official’s intent; acts and declaration; mailing address; voter registration address; vehicle registration address; tax return information; ownership of a residence or residences in another jurisdiction; vehicle parking location or locations; statement of where he or she lives; filing of a renter’s or homeowner’s tax exemption; address on his or her driver license; address on a concealed weapon permit; utility bills; ownership of a business; grant deeds and trust deeds securing loans on property; acceptance of service of process at one location or another, as well as declarations, photographs, maps, voting records, telephone book pages and other documents presented by others, augmented by reports of witness interviews concerning the official’s presence or absence from his claimed residence. Swanson urged the council to not go to the expense of bringing in a special counsel but rather have City Attorney Eric Dunn carry out the investigation.
Mayor Larry Bird and Gregg, however, emphasized the consideration that technically, Dunn in his capacity as city attorney represents Brosowske as a member of the council and that assigning him to carry out an investigation of his client would constitute an ethical or legal conflict or both.
The council then voted 3-to-2, with Brosowske and Swanson dissenting, to have City Manager Nils Bentsen and Dunn return with options for having an attorney or private investigator carry out an investigation of Brosowske’s residency status, whom the council could vote to contract with at a future date.
A significant number of those observing the meeting believed that the two items on the agenda relating to Brosowske’s residency, item 7 calling for the appointment of a special counsel to carry out an investigation into the matter, and item 8, which called for considering Brosowske’s residency issue and taking action the council collectively deemed appropriate, including removing him from office, were in some measure mutually exclusive, representing an either/or proposition. Essentially, it was perceived by many that undertaking an independent investigation of the matter would be an admission that sufficient facts were yet needed to warrant some form of future action against Brosowske if such were to be taken and that at the present time those facts upon which to take any action were not yet known. Thus, it followed, taking any action toward removing Brosowske would be premature, since the facts to justify his removal had not yet been established.
After taking up item 8, however, during which many of the same people who had inveighed one way or the other with regard to item 7 then advocated for or against Brosowske’s removal, the council blew right past any distinctions or nuances with regard to adequate grounds for or evidence or proof to support removal action, and the panel voted to remove Brosowske, again by the same 3-to-2 margin that authorized the investigation.
Prior to that vote, City Attorney Dunn explained the quo warranto concept and process, which pertains to the involved protocol of seeking, from the California Attorney General’s Office, a determination if adequate grounds exists to warrant a civil suit seeking an officeholders removal. While the majority of questions about an officeholders eligibility to hold the office he or she is elected or appointed to is handled in this fashion, Dunn said there were four cases in California going back over the last roughly 30 years that were dealt with by a governing board voting to assert its authority to remove an officeholder on the basis of a presumed or actual residential violation.
“In at least four instances since 1990 the legislative body did not seek permission from the AG or pursue its own action to sue in Superior Court under the quo warranto process, but instead took action to vacate the seat and appoint a replacement on the theory that the officeholder’s seat automatically became vacant under the statutes,” Dunn told the council. “In three of those cases the former official then pursued his or her own quo warranto action to challenge the removal.”
In the matter involving Brosowske, it is a given that Brosowske, represented by Morgan, will force a full quo warranto procedure. That challenge will be an energetic one that has already been assisted by the haste in which the Hesperia City Council acted. In the rush to effectuate Brosowske’s removal, the council neglected to consider in whole or part any of the 211 pages of documentation Brosowske had submitted which he and Morgan maintain is directly relevant to the question of Brosowske’s residency.
Before the vote to remove Brosowske, Councilwoman Swanson endeavored to remind the council that it had just voted to undertake an investigation into the validity of the grounds it was now proposing to use as the basis for Brosowske’s removal. She said the council should hold off on removing him until those questions were resolved.
“I don’t believe that [Brosowske’s removal from office] is in our purview,” Swanson said. “I believe that is in the purview of the people of Hesperia to vote and have their votes count. I do not feel this is our decision to make to vacate a decision that the people of Hesperia made.”
Swanson continued, saying it was “premature” to remove him without at least looking over the documentation he had provided. “Those decisions are going to be challenged and we’re going to be out hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars,” she said. “Gentlemen, you need to resolve your issues some other way, not with the money of the people of this city. That is not how to resolve your petty differences. If you cannot get along, fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re stronger because we have different points of view. You don’t like each other? Get over it. Stop spending the money of the people of this city because you cannot get along and you don’t like each other. Can we please wait until the investigation is done before we take steps that we cannot back off of, that may harm our city, harm our reputation and cost a lot of money? We could just wait until this investigator is chosen and all of the information comes to light. If we have an investigator that’s going to get this information for us, then we can make a decision based on that, not based on conjecture… not based on emotion, not based on anything but information that is given to us by someone who is an outside provider of that information.”
The degree to which the council majority’s momentum to simply be done with Brosowske was holding sway grew evident in how Holland, Bird and Gregg steamrolled over Swanson’s suggestion that the council should make an analysis of the documentation provided by Brosowske before taking the vote to remove him.
That Brosowske had provided the 211 pages of documents at this point was irrelevant, Bird said, suggesting, in essence, what had been provided was a day late and a dollar short.
“This isn’t the first council meeting that anybody in the audience has requested information,” Bird said.
Bird, who is generally cautious and deliberative in his approach to the council’s action, came across as atypically heedless of the possible consequences that blasting Brosowske from office might entail. Bird’s headlong advocacy for Brosowske’s removal is explicated by a chain of events that began last month when First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood precipitously announced that he would not seek reelection next year. Shortly thereafter Congressman Paul Cook, without making a firm commitment, let it be known he was contemplating leaving the House of Representatives to fill the void that will be left by Lovingood’s retirement. Were Cook to in fact run for supervisor, Assemblyman Jay Obernolte almost certainly would run for Congress to replace Cook in the 8th Congressional District. In that circumstance, Bird would seek to replace Obernolte in the 33rd Assembly District. Brosowske would be another logical candidate for that office. It thus appears that Bird’s calculation in joining with Holland and Greg in beheading Brosowske had something to do with Bird’s political aims and the clash of ambition he has with Brosowske.
Holland, in attempting to justify Brosowske’s removal, said, “Mr Brosowske was given the opportunity to prove he lived here [and] it didn’t happen. It is our charge to uphold what the voters should have been told but weren’t because they were lied to. It’s that simple. At this point, it becomes so crystal clear and so black and white: Did he live where he said he lived when he was appointed, when he ran for office and was elected and since?”
Brosowske, in a curious mix of bravado and bombasticism, self-pathos and false humility, accusation and appeal, spewed out in the first and third person, “This is all politically motivated and I’m here to fight for the citizens of Hesperia who elected me in the Fourth District. I’m not going to let my colleagues hold [me] back. If anything, I’ve learned from this meeting that they’re willing to do anything they can to take power away from this office. So for me being the nice polite Jeremiah, those days are gone. I’m going to move forward in a much more aggressive manner. And I look forward to the upcoming elections and I hope that you guys are ready for those and I hope when those are done we can resolve our differences and all have lunch but it’s time to have dialogue that’s respectful, to sit down and talk to each other one-on-one, instead of put items on the agenda about special investigations. This is something that could have simply been handled by the mayor asking me to sit down and show him electric bills and items like that and I think if we had appropriate leadership at this city council, things like this wouldn’t come to embarrass our city. So, I apologize that our leadership in our city has embarrassed you, and I’m going to fight hard in this next election cycle that you get good and firm leadership on this city council. Whether they vote me off or not I will be back and I will be ready to fight harder than ever.”
City Attorney Eric Dunn did nothing to pull the council back from the precipice of action against Brosowske, making no comment when it was suggested that an analysis of the contents of the 211 pages of documents should be made, and offering no hint of whether he had made such an analysis on his own or what conclusions he had drawn therefrom. That there might be some evidence to suggest that Brosowske had set up residency in Hesperia did not necessarily preclude the council from removing him if it had other indicators to suggest Brosowske wasn’t living in the city, Dunn said. “Ambiguity cannot prevent you from taking an action you want to take,” he said.
Brosowske insisted that the proof to establish he is a Hesperia Fourth District resident exists and will come back to haunt the city after he takes legal action to contest his removal. “Ask the city attorney,” Brosowske said. “He’s got all the documents.”
After the 3-to-2 vote to remove him, as the council was about to move on to the next item on the agenda, Brosowske inquired if the action meant that he had to absent himself from the dais immediately. When Dunn indicated it did, Brosowske stepped down from the dais and exited City Hall. There ensued, in the parking lot while the meeting continued inside the building, several heated exchanges between Brosowske’s supporters and others who had advocated his removal. Bird at one point dispatched a sheriff’s deputy into the parking lot to quell the disturbance.
The day following the meeting, Morgan told the Sentinel that the council majority had “bypassed” the concept of carrying out a methodical investigation of the facts relating to Brosowske’s residency and “unilaterally decided to declare his seat vacant. We are of the position they didn’t have the authority to do that. It puts Jeremiah in the position of having to go to court and have a judge set his removal aside. He intends to do that.”
The city council’s claimed authority to take the action was based on assertion rather than facts or law, Morgan insisted. “They said they have that authority simply because they say they have it,” Morgan said. “They said he doesn’t live within the city. They made that assumption without conducting an investigation and after voting to conduct an investigation, they voted to remove him.”
His client, Morgan said, “does live in Hesperia, and the public record shows that, including a lease agreement and his utility bills. He has electricity and gas service, and an internet connection.”
What the council did, Morgan said, “exposes the city to liability for damages and attorney fees for having to defend his right to hold the office.”
Morgan said that Judge Cohn had stated in his ruling the previous Friday that Brosowske’s remedy under the law is to bring about a quo warranto proceeding to ascertain whether he is eligible to serve, and then assert to regain his office based upon his election to it last November.
“We’re looking into that,” Morgan said. “In court on Friday we tried to delay the process a little bit and asked the court to enter a stay but the judge ruled the city has the authority to remove him from office. He said he could not act because of the separation of powers, so if they want to make that mistake they can, and the remedy, or one of the remedies, is Jeremiah can pursue a quo warranto proceeding himself.”
Asked what would occur if Brosowske simply disregarded the council’s vote as being both unwarranted and unlawful, Morgan said, “I would anticipate the sheriff would follow the directions of the council and probably remove him. That could have happened last night but he left the meeting and the council took a recess and came back to finish the meeting without him.”
The Sentinel asked Morgan whether Brosowske was risking his claim to the council position by simply complying with the council’s action, since state law requires that an elected official who is absent from all regularly scheduled meetings over a 60 day period be removed from office.
“I do not anticipate such a scenario,” Morgan responded. “We will go to court to show they don’t have the power to remove him. He has already been removed. If we accept the council’s decision that he has been removed and is no longer a council member – and I can’t stress enough how much we disagree with that – for the sake of the city and its residents he will not attend the meetings as we take this to court and attempt to reinstate him on the council.”
An examination of elements of the 211 pages of documentation submitted by Brosowske and Morgan to the city undergirds, at least partially, Brosowske’s claim of residency. His 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, runs to eight pages including a cover letter and an addendum, and appears to be in order. Included are 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, in the amounts of $170.19 in September, $73.48 in October, $111.99 in November, $75.58 in December, $54.28 in January $35.01 in February, $26.49 in March, $1.61 in April, $32.87 in May, $65.83 in June, $135.66 in July and $149.70 in August. Similarly, bills from Southwest Gas to Jeremiah Brosowske for residential gas service to a service address at “16784 Sultana St #7” in Hesperia are also provided for the same timeframe.
While the rental agreement and the bills certainly establish that Brosowske had arrangements to live at the 16784 Sultana Street Unit 7 address, the evidence consisting of the utility bills is 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.
In his declaration, included among the 211 pages, Brosowske states, “When preparing this declaration, I noticed that my mailing address for my gas bills is my parents’ home in Apple Valley. I imagine that after years of living at my parents’ house, I used the wrong address and have not noticed it since because I receive my gas bills electronically.”
Among the 211 pages of documentation is a bill from Spectrum for internet service in Brosowske’s name at the 16784 Sultana Street Unit 7 address. While this too is evidence of Brosowske’s occupancy of the 16784 Sultana Street Unit 7 address, it also cuts the other way, as it demonstrates, and Brosowske in his declaration acknowledges, he did not arrange for internet service at the apartment until last month. By last month, there was intense questioning and speculation as to Brosowske’s actual living quarters. Thus, his purchase of the service eleven months after he claims to have taken up residence there raises as much doubt about his residency there as it tends to back his claim.
Included among the 211 pages of documents is a color photocopy of Brosowske’s driver license, with his driver license number redacted. The license gives his address as “16784 Sultana St 7 Hesperia, CA 92345.”
Also included are a series of text messages that passed between Brosowske’s cell phone and that of Bill Jensen.
One, on June 12, 2018 includes Jensen alerting Brosowske to the possible availability of places to live in Hesperia, including the Sunset Point Apartments, the Countryside Phyllis Luxury Apartment Homes and the Villa Apartments, all on C Avenue, each with their respective address numbers and phone numbers. Further on in the text, when Brosowske thanks Jensen for his assistance, Jensen gives an illustration of the bonhomie and goodwill between them, along with an indication of his willingness to enable Brosowske in his political quest.
“Thank you for your help,” texts Brosowske.
“You are welcome,” replies Jensen. “Thank you for being a patriot and a citizen. You’re above and beyond most that I know. And you did an outstanding job during the election season. We are more than ready for you on the next front.”
A June 28, 2018 text from Jensen seems to indicate that Brosowske is at that point living on his premises.
“Since you’re my roommate we should set some time to talk every evening. And every morning” Jensen’s text reads.
While the evidence Morgan and Brosowske marshal might indeed establish Brosowske now qualifies as a Hesperia resident, it simultaneously characterizes him as a carpetbagger.
By last month, Brosowske was beset on all sides by former allies who felt betrayed after learning of his interaction with and commitment for advocacy on behalf of special interests. His involvement in, or at least tolerance of, an effort to chase from office someone – Holland – whose assistance at a critical juncture had been key to his own political success left him at odds with a significant element of the Hesperia body politic. Even at that point, Brosowske yet had an opportunity to rise above the fray by redirecting his young and facile mind away from its constant focus on politics and the strategy of obtaining and holding onto power to how he could wield the power yet in his grasp toward the betterment of those being governed. He could have familiarized himself with the myriad of problems and challenges besetting Hesperia, where for three generations the development community has been allowed to build and build and build without supplying the necessary infrastructure to accommodate that development. The opportunity for him to have used the bully pulpit of his position on the city council to elucidate and explore the issues and hammer out in the smithy of a collective public forum the basis of, and steps toward, solutions, and maybe in some cases some actual solutions at that point yet existed. That, however, was beyond the 28-year-old, who despite his youth possesses ten times as much knowledge as most people twice his age have with regard to getting people to vote for him or a candidate he supports so an election can be won. Despite that impressive array of electioneering skill, he evinced no understanding of how the power that is derived from an election can be employed for actual public benefit.
While the ultimate outcome of the action by three of his colleagues removing him from the Hesperia City Council this week and the effort he and his attorney have promised to undo that action is still unclear, Jeremiah Brosowske’s once promising political future and prospects in Sacramento and Washington D.C. now appear to be severely curtailed. His elected position has been ripped from his grasp. The foundational allies who had embraced him as a young man with breathtaking opportunities before him now see him as a plotting schemer willing to backstab them to achieve his own advancement. Most damagingly, the nature of the political machine, Mountain State Consulting, that has crafted his image as the next up-and-coming capable, charismatic and resourcefully creative young politician in San Bernardino County now stands exposed as an entity accumulating and distributing, buying and selling, cultivating and then peddling influence to advance the interests of the political donors whose money is being laundered through the kingmaking efforts of a disgraced former politician convicted of 14 counts of political corruption who is now dedicated to mentoring fledgling politicians such as Brosowske.
By Mark Gutglueck