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Righeimer leads in campaign fundraising

Costa Mesa mayor pro tem pulls in $35,000 in 2011, which will be used to pay down election debt

Monahan raised $4,233.

February 07, 2012|By Joseph Serna

Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's campaign committee raised more than $35,000 in 2011, with about $11,000 coming in a single fundraiser in December, financial disclosure forms show.

The disclosures, which were released last week, show Righeimer far ahead of anyone else seeking city office.

Righeimer for City Council 2010 remains $42,000 in debt from loans Righeimer's company, LMC Management Group, used to fund his campaign two years ago, a time when he faced strong pushback from the police union.

He last gave his campaign a loan of $16,308.27 on Feb. 3, 2011.

Though Righeimer's seat isn't up for reelection until 2014, he said the money will help pay down his last campaign's debt.

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In August, Righeimer spent more than $10,000 in campaign contributions on a sister city exploration trip to China, where he represented the city alongside Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau board members Dan Joyce and Susan O'Brien Moore.

The trip meant to boost cooperation between Costa Mesa and the Inner Mongolia city of Ordos, which is also looking for its own sister city, was not campaign-related.

A representative from the state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) said Monday that it's legal to use campaign money for government-related trips.

Other donors to Righeimer's campaign are attorneys who represent the city on outside legal matters. About three and a half months after Righeimer and a majority of the City Council voted to approve contracting with the Jones Day law firm to defend the city against an employee lawsuit, three Jones Day attorneys made individual contributions totaling $549. The FPPC confirmed the donations are legal.

Among Righeimer's other donors: Orange County Fair Board member Dale Dykema, Facilities Management West spokesman Guy Lemmon and TNT Fireworks American Promotional Events, which last spring saw the days its fireworks could be sold extended by the city.

Care Ambulance Service, the company that deflated Righeimer's bid to expand its service in the place of city paramedics, contributed $500 to his campaign.

Mayor Gary Monahan, who is seeking reelection in November, raised $4,233 last year, much of it in October and November.

Among the Monahan's donors were property owner associations and two marijuana dispensaries. The mayor spoke out in favor of legalizing and regulating dispensaries in Costa Mesa last month. His campaign has $2,500 cash on hand.

Along with Monahan, the seats currently held by Councilmen Eric Bever and Steve Mensinger will be on the ballot. Bever is termed out and Mensinger was appointed by the council in January after Katrina Foley stepped down to take a position on the Newport-Mesa Unified school board.

So far the only other hat in the ring besides Monahan is Sue Lester, who ran in 2010 and whose marijuana dispensary recently closed up shop in Costa Mesa. Lester's campaign has about $700.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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