Former Sheriff John McMahon exited as San Bernardino County‘s highest law enforcement officer earlier this year upon being presented with overwhelming evidence that former Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Bill Postmus had successfully manipulated him and his department into action that was lining the pockets of a marijuana cartel controlled by Postmus and his associates.
That cartel, through an out-of-state entity set up by Postmus, has laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars to a myriad of public officials throughout the county, those associated with it have acknowledged. A significant portion of those payoffs, in the form of disclosed campaign contributions as well as ones hidden in a variety of forms, have gone to politicians in the cities of San Bernardino, Adelanto, Needles, Hesperia and Barstow, where marijuana and cannabis-related commercial establishments have been or are in the process of being permitted and licensed. Simultaneously, Postmus is spreading those bribes around to members of the board of supervisors and politicians in several county cities, where commercial cannabis and marijuana-related activity is not yet permitted but where the cartel and those politicians it is greasing have designs to liberalize regulations that will allow the Postmus cartel to set up a monopoly or near monopoly within the next two-to-five years.
Sources close to McMahon say that the former sheriff was taken in by Postmus’s show of religiosity. Expressing piety was a chapter in Postmus’s original political playbook, which he in his maiden campaign for the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in 2000. when he was 29 years old. Boldly, Postmus, on the strength of his having volunteered for Republican Assemblyman Jim Brulte, Republican Assemblywoman Kathleen Honeycutt, and Republican Assemblyman Keith Olberg, as well as his status as one of the founding members of the High Desert Young Republicans, Postmus took on incumbent First District County Supervisor Kathy Davis, also a Republican, in that race.
A key element of Postmus campaign was the support that came his way from five of the eight largest churches in the High Desert, a Pentecostal and two Baptist in Victorvillle and two Baptist in Hesperia. The preachers at all five were believers in Christian denominational political action, and they would not hesitate in letting their congregations know who among the candidates seeking office at any given time were worthy of support and who were not. Postmus made a point, as the election was approaching, of putting in an appearance during Sunday Service, sometimes at three different churches from early morning to early afternoon, depending on the time of worship at each. The ministers did not hold back, and in between their sermons and homilies, and in their sermons and homilies, sometimes with Bill Postmus present in any one of the first three rows and sometimes with him attending elsewhere, the subject of the upcoming election would be brought up. The worshipers should search their hearts, they were besought, and vote for person Jesus would cast his ballot for. The message was clear: that person was not the liberal-leaning Kathy Davis.
Postmus, assisted by his electioneering team, represented himself as a rock-ribbed conservative, family values Republican. With his clean-cut, All American youthful demeanor, which made him look like the grandson every Republican grandmother in America would love to claim as her own, together with his pro-law enforcement, anti-abortion, let’s-maintain-a-strong military stance, Postmus trounced Davis, a former Apple Valley Mayor Kathy Davis, who despite her GOP affiliation from the time she was elected to the board in 1996 had played footsie with the two Democrats supervisors on the panel, Jerry Eaves and Larry Walker, and her other liberal Republican colleague, Jon Mikels.
Having pulled off that coup, Postmus arrived in San Bernardino, becoming the fifth youngest supervisor in county history, after ?? in ?. Thereafter, he proved fabulously successful, handily achieving re-election in 2004, at which point he was chosen by his board colleagues as board chairman, making him the second youngest person to hold that honorific after ????, in 189? At the same time, he was voted in as chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee. In a county that was then dominated by the Republican Party, at the age of 33 he was the dominant political entity in 20,105-square mile San Bernardino County, reigning over a dominion that geographically larger than Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware, combined. As the leader of the San Bernardino County’s Republicans, he intensified fundraising efforts on behalf of the party’s candidates and causes, succeeding in his stated goal of keeping the Democrats and liberalism at baythroughout the area, with the lone exception of the county’s Central Valley and its cities of Fontana, Rialto, Colton and western San Bernardino and their heavy blue-collar and union-affilated populations. In 2006, while he was yet chairman of both the central committee and the board of supervisors, Postmus launched a campaign for county assessor. Spending just under $3 million in what remains to this day the most expensive electoral effort in San Bernardino County history, he beat inumbent Assessor Donald Williamson, making himself the most powerful taxing authority in the county.
At that point, the future seemed to auger well for Postmus. He had control of the county GOP’s political machine. He held the elected position of the most powerful taxing authority in the county. The loose ethical standards normally applied in San Bernardino County allowed him to adjust the assessments on the property of the county’s wealthy elite downward and thereby save them tthousands, tens of thousands or perhaps more than a hundred thousand dollars per year, leaving them disposed to make generous donations to Postmus’s political fund, either of the political action committees he controlled or the San Bernardino County Republican Party if he made such a request. With his own campaign coffers flush with cash and the county party structure he dominated, Postmus had the luxury of having multiple options as to which office he might next successfully accede to – assemblyman, state senator or congressman – while serving as a kingmaker by being able to vector at will sufficient cash to ensure his closest allies in the primary races against other Republicans prevailed and to then commit adequate resources so that Republicans beat their Democratic counterparts in the November races.
As assessor, however, Postmus soon overreached, as when he increased from one to two the number of assistant assessor positions and installed in those posts two of his closest political associates, neither of whom had any previous experience in assessing or real estate. He then filled 11 of the assessor’s offices next 14 highest-paying positions with his cronies and political operatives.
Postmus initially continued to ride high but by late in 2017 the manner in which he and those around him were exploiting the assessor’s office for personal and partisan political purposes had grown obvious to those paying attention, Things worsened in 2008, at which point the district attorney’s office had detailed investigators to look at the activity of Postmus, both assistant assessors, and at least seven of the assessor’s office personnel in its management and administrative echelon. In June 2008, Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman, who was at that point Posmus closest political and office associate, was arrested and charged withs six felonies, including destroying public records, vandalism or purposeful destruction of a assessor’s office computer, and the production/creation/forging or public documents. From midsummer 2008 until October of that year, Postmus was absent from the assessor’s office headquarters, and his whereabouts, in the face of growing scrutiny, were publicly unknown. Three months after he surfaced, in January 2009, district attorney’s office investigators, armed with a search warrant relating to suspected misuse of the assessor’s office authority, served a search warrant at Postmus’s Rancho Cucamonga condominium, finding in the course of that action methamphetamine and evidence indicating that he was smoking the crystalline form of the drug and had also engaged in the use of inhalants, such as toluene, paint thinner, butane and aerosol sprays.