Gunfight at the ARA Corral

If you can't find the "enterance," please feel free to use the entrance.

If you can’t find the “enterance,” please feel free to use the entrance.

I went to a meeting of the Anaheim Republican Assembly (ARA) tonight at the Northwest Orange County Republican Headquarters, in Stanton.

At the same time, in the next room, there was another meeting being held by a group purporting to be the Anaheim Republican Assembly.


For the last several weeks, the ARA has become the target of an old-school unit take-over attempt being organized by the Tait re-election campaign. Tait forces (including the Taits, Tait neighbor and insta-candidate Doug Pettibone, and janissaries such as Cynthia Ward and sidekick Brian Chuchua, and others weren’t even Republicans) stormed the meeting and attempted to dump unit President Steve Sarkis and replace him with Tait supporter Benita Gagne. Steve has been a GOP volunteer for years and years, but his status as a supporter of Lucille Kring for mayor marked him for liquidation. In the end, the coup apparently didn’t succeed.

Fast forward to this evening. The legitimate ARA unit conducted its business (bylaw changes, officer elections, reports) and scheduled an endorsement meeting for September.

In the next room, at the Tait ARA gathering, clapping could be heard.


Both meetings ended about the same time, and the Tait ARA attendees filed out. It looked to be the same folks involved in the July take-over attempt, plus George and Aaron Park, insurance brokers and conservatives-for-hire. Blogger brother Aaron (whose actions are single-handedly responsible for the idiotic and intrusive FPPC regulation of bloggers) looked as though he was competing for first prize in a “Dress Like An Obnoxious Tourist” contest. To me, that signaled collusion with the claque that has been in control of CTRA for the last couple of years.

After the meeting, CRA President John Briscoe (part of the Tait CRA drill) gave Sarkis a letter signed by state CRA officers:

“The Charter Review Committee has determined there were no elections in May, 2014 therefore the officers elected in May of 2013 are no longer in office and as such there have been no officers since the close of the May 2014 membership meeting.

The Charter Review committee in conjunction with the only current board member, by virtue of her position, District Director Benita Gagne, called a meeting for this evening and has re-organized the Anaheim unit.”
The letter concludes with the assurance that the state CRA Board will ultimately settle who are the “rightful officers of the Anaheim Republican Assembly.”

To these ears, that sounds like, “You’re out, they’re in” and they’ll get around to sorting things out in November. 

I don’t know what was going on next door, but knowing the personalities involved (including Tim Whitacre, who is apparently the on-site campaign manager for Tait’s campaign; I don;t know if that was disclosed at OC GOP Central Committee on Monday night when Whitacre made the motion to endorse the mayor), my guess is they were endorsing the Tait Slate and either the Tait ARA or the Tait campaign will issue a press release announcing the Tait Slate has been endorsed by the CRA.

Mind you – that is my guess. By-laws may require them to agendizing an endorsement meeting for next month.

To those who wonder if the Tait ARA actions are all legal and on the up-and-up, the appropriate response is, “Does it really matter?” This is politics, and in my estimation the Tait camp will claim the endorsement, use it in mailers and drop pieces and worry about the legalities of CRA bylaws and such niceties later. Running for office isn’t beanbag.

In the meantime, there’s the original ARA and a rogue ARA claiming that status. You could well have Tait and Kring touting rival ARA endorsements.


  1. Wrong, most the people from last month did not even show-up tonight at the New ARA. Gadfly Ward held nearly 20 proxies. Over my objection, the new board, elected tonight, will nominate delegate for the nomination convention. And why didn’t you stick up for me when I got thrown out on my tuckus from the old ARA!?!? This is bizarre, good thing Tait didn’t bother showing-up, he is a terrible actor.

    • Thanks for pointing out Ward’s armful of proxies, especially since Aaron Park – who was at the meeting — blogged the very same day:

      “The current by-laws of the Anaheim Republican Assembly allow proxy voting..This is hardly the hallmark of a real CRA unit.”

      Guess that all depends on which side of the fence Park is on. He and team Tait need to get their scripts straight.

  2. And if y’ll are going to use me as a pawn and drag me through the mud, I should be on someone payroll so I can at least afford a beer after it all. I’m barely a year out of school, and this is BS! Sorry…

  3. So Matt, are you saying Steve Sarkis DID hold an election in May to retain his seat? No? How about June? Did he hold a meeting in June? July? Did he hold a meeting in July to conduct an election? Or did Steve Sarkis declare himself the de facto President for life by simply refusing to hold elections once his term was finished?

    Daniel, if you want a beer, put down your keyboard, get a job, and earn the money to buy yourself one. You went to law school, you have a skill set to market, and a brilliant mind when not concocting conspiracy theories, go use those combined assets to earn a living, because nobody owes you a thing in this world, and the only person dragging you through the mud online is yourself.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      I don’t know, Cynthia. You talk as if this drill were about bringing regularity to the election of ARA officers. It’s not. If it were, there are other ways to cure it. This about one campaign taking over a CRA unit with paper members in order to control its endorsement; the election of officers issue is a pretext. It’s a smart move, and it has happened before.

      But again, this whole episode is driven by the mayoral race. Absent that, nobody believes you (a same-sex marriage supporter, which puts you directly at odds with CRA), Brian Chuchua (a supporter of a gate tax – real CRA material there) are the entire Tait family, the Pettibones, and the families of the Tait supporters would ever have joined the ARA. I’m merely presenting this little drama for what it is.

    • Cynthia, why do you always sound like you are whining at the podium during city council public comments?

  4. Who is footing the air fare and lodging bills for the Parks brothers and others who traveled hundreds of miles to their rump meeting? The Tait campaign? If Aaron Park is involved, then there is payola going on. That guy doesn’t breath unless you pay him to.

  5. When is someone going to admit that Cynthia Ward is an official member of the Tait campaign – regardless of whether she is paid or not. Tait is aligned with the person who is suing the city, she follows him around like a puppy dog. No honesty or kindness from Mayor Tait or his family – disgusting display or attack dog politics. Tait is a spoiled, rich boy who refuses to lead through any means but pure force, manipulation and buying locality with his family money and connections.

    Daniel Lamb – don’t know you but Cynthia Ward has no right to lecture you – given she’s Taits lead sycophant. And she’s making her payday by suing Anaheim taxpayers. You should tell her where she can shove her lecture!

  6. Anaheim Hills Resident

    I attended a gathering for Tom Tait at a private home recently and he went to great lengths about how everyone is attacking him and an ugly campaign would be mounted against him. Seems to me that Mayor Tait is the only person in this race getting in the mud. He is a very good actor, his presentation focused on kindness was very believable. I will encourage my friends in the Hills to read this story. Not an example of honesty or kindness.

    • If Tait were really sincere about his kindness schtick and deploring “ugly” campaigns, who wouldn’t tolerate the behavior of the trolls he surrounds himself with. But he does tolerate it. Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Mayor.

  7. The Tait transformation is very alarming to say the least. His tantrum tactics and speeches are something more people need to be paying attention to as November grows ever closer.

  8. Can we get back to the issues here?

    Steve Sarkis had been in violation of his own unit bylaws for at least a year, failing to create a board of the required number, thus no board meetings were legally conducted.

    Steve Sarkis had been in violation of the State bylaws for at least a year, because they require meetings at least once per quarter and Sarkis had let membership decline to the point that he was unable to call a quorum and hold a legal meeting.

    Steve Sarlis violated the unit bylaws by failing to call for a nominating committee, and then failing to call for the required election in May.

    The June meeting where he called for an election, he failed to convene a quorum, refused to accept new membership applications to correct the lack of members, and instead swapped out the election for a guest speaker, Lucille Kring.

    New member applications that came in through the rest of June and into July should have been sent to State CRA, after which if he rejected them the State org could offer to let them be at large members or form their own unit, perhaps an Anaheim Hill unit, but Sarkis violated the State org bylaws by illegally intercepting those applications and rejecting them, and his claim that they were not Republicans is horse pucky. He rejected Tom Tait and his family, (you may not like them but they are Republicans in good standing) he rejected Senator John Lewis and others.

    In July Sarkis was offered yet another opportunity to conduct business and retain his leadership position, yet once again he failed to hold a quorum for lack of members, he himself had failed to bring in new members to correct the failure, and he refused to accept new members or even answer the rejected members who showed up to find out why they had been rejected! Baron Night reminded “the President” that the bylaws did not require him to give a reason for rejecting them. Do you know what else the bylaws do not require? they do not require the members to let Sarkis retain his seat in perpetuity by refusing to hold an election. So following his refusal to hold an election, an officer of the State CRA announced that she had accepted the rejected members as new applicants, having confirmed on the computer as they went along that they WERE Republicans, and those new members then conducted an election under the leadership of the only remaining legal Officer, District Director Benita Gagne. Sarkis refused to participate and lost his seat.

    Even after that meeting. Sarkis was grabbing the memberships of those new applicants and rejecting them. some for a second time, after the State org had accepted them. Sarkis had NO legal authority as he was no longer President, and his “board” helping him consisted of THREE PEOPLE when the bylaws dictate SIX members for a legal board. At that point he was violating unit and state bylaws, and creating a PR nightmare for CRA. Complaints have been filed against Sarkis and Baron Night, and their memberships with CRA are under review by the State board, to be determined next month. They both have far bigger issues with CRA than who is President today, and if Sarkis used ARA money for the certified letters sent for rejections or the ridiculous security guards I understand he hired, as an officer of the ARA I will propose that we pursue him personally to retrieve those costs from him out of pocket, in court if need be. (and you know I will.)

    Last night’s meeting was simply verification of our election by the State organization under whose umbrella the ARA was formed. Board members from all over the State came in (the Parks drove, and nobody paid them, they would not even let us buy them dinner) and you can claim “sour grapes” all you want, the reality is that the State CRA says Steve Sarkis is President of nothing more than his own fantasy world at this point.

    Now if you have some proof that Sarkis held a legal election in May, June, July, or that he convened legal Board meetings this year including the number of Board members required by the ARA bylaws, you might want to send that along to the State CRA before Night and Sarkis face the full Board next month. This blog, however, has exactly ZERO authority to reverse the State decision. So yell your heads off in this echo chamber, the floor is all yours.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Nice deflection attempt, Cynthia. But nobody is buying.

      Show of hands: who thinks Cynthia really gives a hoot about the ARA itself? Who thinks Cynthia or anyone else associated with the Tait campaign would have joined the ARA if he wasn’t facing a challenge from Lucille Kring? Where has Cynthia been? She only joined a couple of months ago.

      From beginning to end, this has been a unit take-over drill with the goal of getting control of the ARA in order get the endorsement not only for Tom Tait, but even more to secure some kind of GOP for Pettibone and Vanderbilt. Cynthia is part of that drill. It’s the reason she joined ARA. All this bylaws stuff is just a pretext. It would be refreshing if the “truth teller” would just admit it.

  9. Ward, you should be audited, along with Team Tait chief, John Lewis and the whole cabal. Lol. I can’t believe I am writing that here. Anaheim…

    Mayor Tait, for months, led me to believe things would work out financially. I have records to prove it, he’s a pretty mean guy.

    Team Tait just used me and planned on discrediting me when it was time. I saw it coming, so I acted in a way that may it all obvious. The public knows their shame.

    Looking back, I see that Mayor Tait used his kids (my friends I thought) to feed me info and scare me about how brutal the race would get. These people, (who are also shockingly incompetent) should not be trusted with a lawn-mower.

  10. Let’s play connect the dots…

    Tait is aligned with ThinkOC aka Cynthia Ward

    Cynthia award and Greg Diamond (who runs against any seat he can find to challenge conservative Republicans) are suing the city of Anaheim.

    The two of them meet regularly with Tait, his family and are strident supporters of his campaign.

    Neither supports the principles of the CRA.

    This latest issue is designed to hit anyone who doesn’t march lock step with Tait so now Sarkis is added to the human collateral damage citywide.

    None of this kind of negative media/blogging/ attack dog mentality existed in Anaheim when Curt Prongle was Mayor or Speaker of the Assembly.

    Anyone concerned about the state of Anaheim should connect the dots on who is slinging mud in this town – it’s always six degrees of Tom Tait.

  11. And all of this bickering resolves the Sarkis issue HOW exactly? What part of this are you missing? Your howling at the moon is useless. Do you somehow imagine I will hang my head in shame at the way all five Flying Monkeys over here hate my guts? Or that your disapproval somehow puts Steve Sarkis back on his self appointed throne? Here is a news flash. I am tired of self righteous jerks from BOTH parties descending on Anaheim like we are some backwoods hillbillies in need of missionaries to teach us how to live like civilized society, and that counts for the hills of Orange sending their “right wing” bloggers, or south county sending their arrogant limousine liberals. We do not need Matt Cunningham telling us what ‘Business friendly” policies look like. We do not need Steve Sarkis and Baron Night misrepresenting the view of Anaheim Republicans to voters and alienating even more folks into re- registering DTS, by selling bad candidates as favored Republicans.

    The damage done there is more important than my own views on ARA/CRA, but I am not sitting quietly and letting this continue, and if it takes someone obnoxious like me to stand up and slug the bully and take the stolen football back to the playground, then I will do that very thing. I’m sorry if you and your friends had your hearts set on playing with that stolen football, but that is not my problem.

    I do recognize that Districts are not the fix all for our problems,but Districts are a reality and you can spin out of control with a keyboard and alienate the few voters who wander over here or we can get off our butts and be out there registering voters and explaining that Latino ancestry does not make one an automatic Democrat, and my naturalized neighbors or first generation neighbors have a lot more in common with the party of Reagan than the party of Obama, but they are not going to see that when all they see of “republicans” are the dirtbags promoted by the likes of Sarkis and Night.

    By the way you ask where I was with CRA/ARA why don’t you ask their past members who failed to conduct any outreach for new members? I came in because Brian Chuchua told me they were so pathetically depleted of members they could not call a quorum. I saw it for myself and brought in Mayor Tait and his family, not yet realizing Sarkis was in the bag for Lucille. How is it that the CRA endorsed Mayor was not solicited for membership? Why would Baron Night get in the Mayor’s face and claim he was cutting his own political throat? For what? All the guy did was try to join a group that had supported him when he needed it and now seemed to be in need of his help. Well that’s one Helluva thank you note. You don’t get it, NONE of us wanted that unit. Sarkis did so much damage to the reputation I am not sure it can be salvaged but after his insane behavior I am willing to try. And the way to do it is building bridges, because unlike this blog and the Masters of the Universe crowd, not everyone has to be just like me for me to work with them in common cause for the greater good of my City. But then again I wonder how many of the sock puppets here can even claim Anaheim as their city. You all have a nice weekend, I have work to do. You go back to the whining already in progress.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      I’ll have to create a new category for comments like this called “fairy tales.”

      The rest of us living in the real world do not buy for a minute that Ms. Ward is exerting all this effort to take over the Anaheim Republican Assembly because she thinks two guys she hardly knows are going to ruin the Republican cause. Really? Baron Night and Steve Sarkis? Two individuals who have given far more of themselves the causes Republican and conservative than a Johnny-come-lately like Cynthia Ward ever will.

      Amidst all the sturm und drang of an expensive and time-consuming re-election campaign, Ward and the Tait campaign devote time and energy toward an ARA take-over because you don’t like how Steve Sarkis is running the unit? Yeah. Right. Sorry Cynthia – nobody made you the Oracle of Republicanism, mystically endowed to interpret the will and desires of the GOP faithful. I realize that whatever you believe at the moment, you believe with absolute certainty – even if it directly contradicts what you believed with absolute certainty in the recent past. Please stop conflating what you think at the moment with what is right for the Republican Party.

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