Admin Note: To some surprise this opinion editorial was published in the Monday edition of The Sun newspaper. The author has released his work to InlandPolitics.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Few stories, in my 20 years as a newspaper reporter, ever electrified readers more than one I wrote for The Press-Enterprise in 2008 when a pair of San Manuel Band of Mission Indians got house arrest for crimes that would have sent anyone else to prison.
Eric and Stacy Barajas pleaded guilty to crimes ranging from attempted murder and transporting drugs to assault with a firearm and gang involvement. They were charged in connection with the “dead presidents” case, in which key prominent San Bernardino gang members enjoyed sanctuary from police on the reservation in Highland.
For years, I covered gang cases that traced violent criminal gang members onto the reservation. Court records detailed how the San Manuel Indians repeatedly blocked San Bernardino city and county law enforcement officials from fighting crime there.
At that time, James Ramos led the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. He rarely had the courage or character to return calls about these cases — much less fight crime on the reservation, which is basically an autonomous country inside San Bernardino County.
In a story on Nov. 2, 2008, I wrote how San Bernardino County District Attorney officials denied any connection between James Ramos as his then $22,000 in contributions to District Attorney Mike Ramos. Secretary of State records detailed how most of those contributions came in during the course of the dead presidents investigation.
The Barajas siblings pleaded on April 17, 2008. James Ramos sent Mike Ramos a $7,000 campaign contribution the following month.
Through 2012, Ramos’ contributions to Mike Ramos’ campaign committee totals more than $53,000.
Now Ramos wants to become a San Bernardino County Supervisor. He receives at least $100,000 tax free dollars each month, so mentioned in court records in 2008, and lavishes his largesse on liberal causes and candidates. He is trying to unseat Neil Derry for that post.
Ramos’ behavior – turning tax-free dollars into a political empire — is beyond galling for any voter or citizen.
Ramos has since gone onto become the George Soros of San Bernardino County. In May, Ramos gave $1,000 to Pete Aguilar, the far-left Redlands mayor who failed in his bid for Congress earlier this year. That amount was on top of $75,000 the San Manual band contributed to Aguilar’s congressional campaign accounts.
Aguilar is currently running for re-election on the Redlands City Council.
Also in May, the San Manuel band gave $50,000 to Paul Cook, who is one of two Republican candidates running for the new congressional district 8, which covers Highland. The other candidate is Gregg Imus.
Previously, Ramos and the San Manuel Indians have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to many Democrats and a few Republicans as well. They range from San Francisco uber-liberal Nancy Pelosi to Jerry Lewis, the outgoing Republican representative from Redlands.
Voters should reject James Ramos or any candidate connected to his money. Any candidate who accepts any tax-free dollars from Ramos or his reservation should return his contributions.
John Berry is a former reporter who covered courts in San Bernardino County. He lives in Redlands.