Tuesday, March 8, 2011 – 06:30 p.m.
Last Modified: March 9, 2011 – 12:35 p.m.

Information is starting to spill out as federal agents and prosecutors bear down on political and governmental activities in San Bernardino County.

And what is being said is alarming.

A common and also troubling thread within the information coming to light is none other than O.C.-based consultant David Ellis, owner of Delta Partners LLC and The David Ellis Group.

Ellis

Ellis, a long-time political operative in both the O.C. and Inland Empire, has a reputation for a “Take no prisoners.” or “It’s better to do it and ask for forgiveness later” attitude.

It’s an attitude that has kept him on the outer fringe of regulatory and legal hassles.

Ellis is also the current chairman of the Orange County Fair Board.

However all of this may soon change.

In San Bernardino County, Ellis has no problem letting it be known that he’s the political right arm of District Attorney Mike Ramos.

A position which clearly has given him broad latitude in operating in the county unchecked.

A relationship Ellis has been able to parlay into handsome “no-bid” contracts from the San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association (SBCERA) and Yucaipa Valley Water District.

However, what’s coming to light now is more than just politics as usual.

An individual using the power of government in plotting to neutralize political speech, in other words donors, while favoring his allies is different.

It’s the type of activity which leads to leveraging the power of law enforcement in a highly unethical and potentially illegal manner.

All with the cover, protection and blessing of a county prosecutor.

City of Upland

First, it has become known that Ellis was heavily involved in the 2008 mayoral and city council election campaigns in Upland.

A successful campaign which opposed recently-appointed Upland Mayor Ray Musser, while supporting indicted Mayor John “J.P.” Pomierski and sitting councilman Ken Willis.

A campaign where Ellis’ connection to Ramos was employed.

Sources are telling InlandPolitics.com that behind the scenes in the Pomierski-Willis campaign was the Lewis Group of Companies.

The Lewis Group of Companies is a billion dollar plus developer headquartered in Upland.

The Lewis Group is also a strong ally and donor to Ramos.

Apparently, in 2008, Ellis made verbal agreements with the late David Lewis, to keep the Lewis name “visibly” out of the election.

Ellis was successful. No one knew of the Lewis Group’s backing of Pomierski and Willis.

Lewis, an executive-vice president and one heir to the family fortune, who several sources report, was cooperating as an informant in an ongoing investigation into county corruption, committed suicide at his Las Vegas home last year.

An terrible event that was barely covered by the local media. It seems the Lewis family worked frantically to make the news of the young executives passing fade quickly.

And it did.

Very few in Upland political circles believe Lewis killed himself. The common speculation is his death was a homicide.

A shotgun wound to the chest is very painful and not always immediate. Many agree it’s a method of suicide that seems incompatible to Lewis.

The extent of the Lewis Group’s campaign support is unknown at this time. Only the players, and federal investigators, really know.

Victorville Meltdown

Next we have the City of Victorville. A city currently in financial disarray.

Victorville, in its own way, is a different version of Bell, California.

Many sources believe Ellis client, William “Buck” Johns, President of O.C.-based Inland Energy is a key figure behind Victorville’s financial meltdown.

Those sources are most likely correct in their assumptions.

Johns

Ellis has been Johns’ political operative in Victorville for a significant number of years. The San Bernardino County Grand Jury has reportedly been examining Ellis’ more recent campaign tactics and mailed literature used in Victorville elections.

Multiple investigations involving Victorville’s financial transactions have been ongoing for some time.

However those investigations have garnered a new ally.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the investigatory arm of the U.S. Department of Justice has now joined the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the San Bernardino County Grand Jury, in examining Victorville.

The SEC has been investigating to determine if the city misled bond investors by way of inadequate disclosure of risk.

The USCIS has been investigating the city’s failed EB-5 Worker Visa Program. A program Victorville paid Johns handsomely to initiate.

In what is described as an unusual and rare move, the USCIS terminated the Victorville EB-5 Program late last year.

Recently Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron, a new-found supporter of Johns, made a public plea to end all the investigations.

A move that reportedly was done at Johns behest.

However the entrance of FBI agents onto the scene makes the motive for McEachron’s actions appear dubious at best.

Sources report one of the focuses of federal investigators is alleged questionable contracts and payments that former city manager Jon Roberts approved at the direction of former Mayor Terry Caldwell.

Payments which benefited Johns and reportedly done without council approval.

Many believe Johns turned Victorville into his own private piggy-bank to the detriment of the city’s residents.

Now it looks like all the feeding at the trough is coming to an end.

Ellis-Johns press for relationship with county

In 2009, Ellis tried to get his friend and client Johns into business with San Bernardino County.

The angle? Propose to bring a waste-to-energy plant as a way to address county landfill problems.

Private meetings to discuss the idea were held with some county supervisors. Ellis, Johns and even Victorville’s Caldwell attended the private meetings.

Caldwell

Eventually the waste-to-energy idea never gained traction and fell away.

Ever since, Johns has been politically pressuring First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt by proposing to running Caldwell to unseat him in 2012.

Representing rave promoter

Ellis also represents businessman Shahvand Aryana.

The source of another questionable matter.

Aryana became embroiled in a battle with the City of Redlands over operating teenage raves at the site of amusement park Pharaoh’s Lost Kingdom.

The raves caused major problems for the city as well as the parents of many area teenagers.

Eventually the property owner had to legally take back possession of the park.

The county pension fund

Another cozy relationship for Ellis is his contract with the San Bernardino Employees Retirement Association (SBCERA).

Ellis, who has no investment background, no registration as a placement agent or lobbyist, was awarded a nice “no-bid” contract with the county pension fund to market the fund as a manager of health savings funds for other jurisdictions.

A task which has become much more difficult these days since the performance of SBCERA has fallen to the bottom ten percent of all public pension funds.

SBCERA, with Ellis’ assistance, formed Pacifc Public Partners to legally seperate the pension fund from the new venture.

More to come

What’s about to significantly complicate matters for many players here is the fact that one source says significant court-ordered electronic surveillance has been ongoing for some time now.

Surveillance of the audio recording type.

Sources also indicate some individuals may have crossed the line.

In various conversations, sources say Ellis and his clients discuss political tactics, including active and potential criminal prosecutions, which benefit the political and business interest of his various clients.

The aforementioned, and other conversations involving discussions on how best to impact political and business enemies may come to light shortly.

Expect the FBI stay in San Bernardino County to be protracted.