MICHELLE BROUGH, Dana Point

For months, I stood by and watched my husband, Assemblyman Bill Brough, be dragged through the mud by his own political party because he dared to challenge the mighty Transportation Corridor Agencies (the Toll Roads). But now, my children have been negatively impacted by the negligent actions of some in the name of political retribution against my husband. How dare they?

To promote good governance, my husband proposed a bill merely asking for an audit of the Toll Roads (that have spent and collected billions of our dollars) to ensure that his constituents’ hard-earned money was not being squandered by this unaccountable quasi-governmental powerhouse. Now one would think that any elected individual, regardless of party, would encourage legislation that reviewed how an agency with the power to mandate fees spends that money. (I am not talking about the toll one pays to drive on the roads; I am talking about the fees assessed by the toll roads on developers and businesses attempting to build or expand in our communities that increase every year and then get passed on to us.) This is not the case here. In fact, when my husband began discussing this legislation, he was told by his then-district director, Jennifer Beall (whose husband is Rancho Santa Margarita Councilman L. Anthony Beall and receives compensation for serving as a director on the Toll Road board and whose law firm has represented toll road and transportation authority issues throughout the country), that “he would be destroyed.” This was stated to my husband in front of another elected official.

My school-aged children are being severely and callously harmed by the false allegations being levied against their father for petty politics and money, albeit a lot of money, which apparently is more important to some than the welfare of a child.

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who recently told the press that she is experiencing nightmares because of my husband’s alleged actions that occurred 11 years ago, has done quite well by the Toll Roads. Her campaign consultant, president of Venture Strategic, on a motion made by Ms. Bartlett as a board member of the Toll Roads, ended up with a $1.8 million consulting contract. Apparently, conflict of interest is not relevant with the Toll Roads. The motion to hire her consultant was originally made when Ms. Bartlett still owed money to this consultant.

Now, maybe there is nothing wrong with any of this (an audit should show any misconduct). But, the response against my husband makes me think that certain folks are afraid of what may be unearthed by such an audit. A few of the current and former Toll Road board members, including Ms. Bartlett, Anthony Beall, Ed Sachs and Michael Munzing, who claim to be good governance Republicans, have thrown fits, personally bashing my husband, while other board members focus on the legislation and welcome an audit. What are certain board members so afraid of?

I am in no way suggesting that credible sexual harassment claims should be casually dismissed; but, neither should the possibility of false allegations that are politically or financially motivated be overlooked. False allegations should be taken equally seriously, as they severely undermine those hundreds of thousands of legitimate claims that are out there.

Lisa Bartlett has changed her story repeatedly about the event that she alleges occurred 11 years ago.  Also, she seems to want to publicize her allegations at a time that would benefit her politically.  Additionally, I have credible reason to believe she has promised a job to the other woman that alleged my husband harassed her, in return for her talking to the press.

We were told that this would all go away if my husband does not seek re-election, in which case his Toll Road bill would die. These facts should at least raise questions about the legitimacy of the allegations.

That said, if what they say about my husband is true, they absolutely should file a complaint against him in a court of law—clearly, they are not worried about discussing the allegations (they had no problem talking to the press and others in closed and open door meetings). Please, I implore you, rather than call my husband a “sexual predator” in your constituent meetings and at social events, file a lawsuit; let’s get the facts out. A lawsuit would also grant my husband his right to due process. Unfortunately, even if my husband were to prevail, the damage that they have caused cannot be undone.

This mom has had enough! If there is wrongdoing, one should absolutely file a complaint; but it is not OK to intentionally ruin anyone’s reputation and harm their children solely for personal or political gain.  I am utterly disgusted with what politics has become—rather than logical arguments to support their political positions, candidates and politicians sling mud and tell lies in an attempt to damage those with whom they disagree.

Politics has become a game where politicians profit off of the backs of the citizens whose interests they are supposed to be protecting and serving.  Ask your elected officials about their position on auditing the toll road to see how the money was spent; their answer says it all!

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