Miller deal rouses ire

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! DIAMOND BAR – Rep. Gary Miller helped secure $1.28 million in federal funds for street improvements in front of a planned housing/retail center he co-owned, according to federal documents and statements from Miller.Miller, R-Brea, partnered with his top campaign contributor, Lewis Operating Corp. of Upland, to finance development of the 70-acre Diamond Bar Village, according to documents obtained from Diamond Bar city officials. Campaign watchdog groups said the federal spending – and Miller’s investment in the development with a campaign contributor – are a conflict of interest.Kathay Feng, executive director of the campaign-finance reform advocacy group Common Cause of California, called the situation “very suspicious.”“With the cloud of ethics violations hanging very low over Congress right now, this is a very bad time for Gary Miller to be treading so close to the gray area of more violations,” Feng said. “This is a surprisingly close nexus between a congressional member, investments he holds, and him playing an integral role in getting funds that seem to benefit him and a major political contributor.”Miller defended his role, saying he helped get the $1.28 million for street improvements because Diamond Bar requested it. Any assertion or assumption that he is doing anything improper is “totally wrong,” he said.Miller received from the Center for Responsive Politics an almost perfect score on the clarity of his financial disclosures. He said he has nothing to hide.“I have always prided myself on being honest,” he said. “There is nothing inappropriate being done with anybody. Period.”Diamond Bar Village is planned for the southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Golden Springs Drive. It will feature a Target store, 70 single-family homes, 110 condominiums and two restaurants, according to city documents. Construction is expected to be completed late this year or in 2007. Lewis-Diamond Bar LLC, a company formed to buy the land, is the developer.Miller owns between $1 million and $5 million in Lewis-Diamond Bar LLC. The other partner is Lewis Operating Corp., according to 2004 federal financial disclosure and city documents.Lewis Operating Corp. and members of the Lewis family have donated $18,100 to Miller’s campaigns since 2004, which is more than any other contributor, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The maximum donation is $2,000 per individual or business per election cycle. The Lewis family spread out their donations among family members, which is legal.Randall Lewis of the Lewis Operating Corp. said Miller would not be involved in a project if it there were a conflict of interest. He declined to comment further, saying he was unfamiliar with the Diamond Bar Village project.Miller, 57, is a member of the House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He also is vice chairman of House Highways, Transit and Pipelines Subcommittee, which gives him a prime position to acquire federal money for area transportation projects.The $1.28 million for repairs on Grand Avenue was part of a six-year, $286.6 billion transportation bill passed in August. Miller served on a select committee to help get the bill through Congress, according to a press release on his Web site.He also helped secure $9.6 million for adding onramps and offramps to the Pomona (60) Freeway at Lemon Avenue in Diamond Bar, which is about 1.5 miles from Diamond Bar Village. In all, the bill allocated to cities in Miller’s district about $28 million for local transportation projects. Miller’s 42nd District includes Whittier, Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights, La Habra, Chino Hills, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita and Yorba Linda. All received money in the bill.Miller said the work on Grand Avenue was to improve traffic flow, but Diamond Bar City Engineer Fred Alamohoda disagreed.The money will be used to repave and restripe the road and to update irrigation systems on Grand Avenue’s medians, he said.“It doesn’t really improve traffic flow, except for the restriping, which could help a little,” Alamohoda said.City Manager Linda Lowry said the city requested the money from Miller, but she could not remember if the city did so before or after Lewis-Diamond Bar, LLC, proposed building Diamond Bar Village.Miller said his dealings with the city were on the up and up.According to city documents, Lewis-Diamond Bar, LLC, paid the city $1.2 million in traffic-mitigation fees.The company also paid the city $2 million to allow housing at the site, which was previously zoned for office uses.“We paid more in city fees than is normal,” Miller said.Lowry said the federal money will not be used for improvements directly in front of Diamond Bar Village.Instead, it will be used on Grand Avenue as it leads to the center from the east, she said.Lowry declined to comment on whether she saw a conflict in dealing with Miller.“I’m a city manager,” she said. “I don’t have opinions.”Councilman Bob Zirbes said the city requested money to fix up Grand Avenue before Miller’s project.“Our road was trashed,” he said.”We really did treat them the same as everybody else,” he said. “We didn’t offer them anything, no sales tax revenue, no discount on the property. I really never tied the project to Grand Avenue funding, because there wasn’t a tie there.”Feng, of Common Cause, said almost as problematic as the allocation of federal money were Miller’s ties with Lewis Operating Corp.Along with his investment in Lewis-Diamond Bar LLC, Miller also owes between $1 million and $5 million to Lewis Investment Co., which is also in the Lewis family of companies, according to campaign-finance disclosures.“How does the public know how much money is changing hands between \ and his partners?” Feng asked.Miller, a Diamond Bar resident, grew up in Whittier and served on the Diamond Bar City Council and in the California Assembly before being elected to Congress in 1998. He has been friends with the Lewis family for “about 30 years,” he said. He also said he is wealthy and the idea that he could be swayed by a few thousand dollars in a development deal was “outrageous.”Miller is the owner of G. Miller Development Co. in Diamond Bar, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto and Fontana, according to his personal finance statements.Miller, or his company, in 2004 bought properties valued between $1 million and $5 million, according to financial statements.He said he would not see any long-term benefit from street improvements because the retail center is being sold to other companies.Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said it is not illegal for members of Congress to invest in property. However, helping allocate federal funds near investments is a conflict of interest and unethical, he said.Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at Santa Clara University, said Miller should be more careful with his investment choices.“His job is to be a congressman,” Nadler said. “That’s his first priority, ethically, to those who elected him. This raises questions about whether he is being impartial.” [email protected](626) 962-8811, Ext. 2703last_img read more


first_imgThe decision to schedule Donegal’s All-Ireland qualifier clash with Galway at Croke Park on Saturday night looks set to backfire on the GAA with clubs reporting a very poor demand for tickets. Donegal fans expressed their angry at the decision by the GAA to drag supporters to HQ this Saturday evening when they felt a ground between Donegal and Galway would have been more sufficient.The game is a double-header and with neighbouring counties Sligo and Tyrone also in action at Croke Park on the same day – some have found the decision baffling. Rory Gallagher sympathised with Donegal fans last week when the details of the fixture where announced.However, while he said he felt sorry for Donegal fans having to make the long trip to Dublin, Gallagher was delighted that his side were getting the opportunity to play at Croke Park.It seems more logical to most to have possibly played the game at a neutral venue in either Ulster or Connacht, but GAA powerbrokers decided to host the double-header at Croke Park.It now seems Donegal may struggle to sell their ticket allocation for the game with clubs all across the county signalling that there has been a significant drop in demand for tickets. Another possible factor for the drop is the fact that if Donegal do win on Saturday against Galway they will be back in Croke Park for the All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo the following Sunday.What’s your view on the game being played at Croke Park?Are you happy to be heading back to HQ? Or would you prefer the game to have been played closer to home?TICKETS SALES FOR DONEGAL’S ALL-IRELAND QUALIFIER POOR – AS FANS VOTE WITH THEIR FEET was last modified: July 28th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:GAAnewsSportlast_img read more