Rutherford

07:13 AM PDT on Tuesday, October 12, 2010

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

Fontana Councilwoman Janice Rutherford, who has made ethics reform a central platform in her candidacy for San Bernardino County supervisor, has a former aide to former county assessor Bill Postmus running her campaign.

Ted Lehrer, a former spokesman for Postmus, testified last week in the criminal trial of Rex Gutierrez, another former assessor’s employee.

Lehrer’s name also came up Friday in a preliminary hearing on the corruption charges against Postmus when an investigator said Lehrer was part of a business partnership with Postmus and Adam Aleman, a former assistant assessor who also is facing charges.

Postmus is accused by prosecutors of using his office for personal and political gain, padding his staff with political operatives who worked on campaign activities on county time.

Lehrer, who is not facing any criminal charges, testified during Gutierrez’s trial that at Aleman’s direction he wrote articles for a blog called “Red County San Bernardino” that was used to promote candidates Postmus favored.

In the Postmus hearing, Hollis Randles, a senior investigator with the district attorney’s office, testified that a partnership called ALP LLC made up of Aleman, Lehrer and Postmus collected advertising revenue from “Red County” and another political blog that Postmus’ staff worked on.

Rutherford, who is challenging Supervisor Paul Biane in the Nov. 2 election, has criticized Biane for his vote in support of a $102 million lawsuit settlement with a Rancho Cucamonga developer in November 2006. Postmus is charged with bribery in that case. Biane has been implicated as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Rutherford said her criticisms of Biane were regarding his decisions on taxpayer money, and that Lehrer is on her campaign staff and paid with campaign money raised from private donors. She pointed out he is testifying for the prosecution.

“He’s trying to do what’s right and help get a conviction,” Rutherford said.

MANY HAD TIES

She said most Republicans involved in politics in the county have had some connection to Postmus, who served as chairman of the local party for several years.

But a spokesman for Biane described Lehrer’s leadership role in Rutherford’s campaign as an example of her lack of sincerity.

“If you’re truly committed to reform, why in the world would you hire somebody from Bill Postmus’ political shop to run your campaign?” asked Chris Jones, a campaign consultant for Biane. “That would be like Jimmy Carter hiring Nixon’s plumbers to run his campaign.”

In an interview, Lehrer said he had no involvement in a partnership with Postmus and Aleman, and if his name was included, it was done without his knowledge. He also denied that any of his blog postings were written on county time.

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