Jim Righeimer+Steve Mensinger

Costa Mesa City Councilmen Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger are shown. (Los Angeles Times / Daily Pilot)

By Jeremiah Dobruck
Decmeber 16, 2014

Costa Mesa police union suggested ways to catch councilmen in compromising positions, according to emails

In the months before the 2012 city elections, police officers in Costa Mesa mocked members of the City Council and suggested ways to catch them in compromising positions, according to emails contained in court documents.

The emails among board members of the Costa Mesa Police Assn. came as the union asked its law firm to hire private investigators to monitor three councilmen who disagreed with the union’s political positions on retirement benefits and other issues, according to documents filed by county prosecutors.

In one email reviewed by the Daily Pilot, Officer Mitch Johnson — then the treasurer of the city’s police union — suggested telling the union’s lawyers about an upcoming city-sponsored trip to Las Vegas in the hope of catching them breaking California’s open-meeting law.

“I could totally see him sniffing coke (off) a prostitute,” Johnson wrote of one of the targeted councilmen. “Just a thought.”

Two private eyes who had been hired hands of the law firm were arrested last week on suspicion of calling in a false DUI report against one of the council members and placing a GPS device on another’s car and following him for weeks.

Police in Costa Mesa have tried to distance themselves from the 2012 incident and fired the law firm that employed the private eyes. But in emails contained in the criminal case, officers and ranking members of the police union are quoted suggesting clever way to catch the council members in compromising positions.

After being read the quotation from the email Monday, Councilman Steve Mensinger, who is now the city’s mayor, said “It speaks volumes to the corrupt culture of our police union.”

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