Larry Agran is Stealing Another Election in Republican-Heavy Irvine

O'Hara answered, "Small Business Owner," continuing, "which, as you likely know, tests extremely well with California suburban voters. Please let me know what you think of the particulars of the ballot statement."

Later on Aug. 8, O'Hara emailed Strader that he'd edited the statement. He wrote, "I have completely reoriented my approach to Katherine's ballot statement this evening based on new information that convinced me of the error of my 'Great Park' one-issue messaging."

On Aug. 9, Strader urged Daigle to seek endorsements "ASAP."

On Aug. 10, Daigle filed for the mayor's race.

Four days later, Strader and Daigle discussed ways to win the support of the Orange County Republican Party and the conservative, powerful Lincoln Club.

On Aug. 15, Daigle worried to Strader in an email that she might be publicly tagged as a fake candidate for Agran. She asked him if he was "retreating" from promised assistance.

"Absolutely not," he replied. "Can we have a phone call today?"

On Aug. 20, Daigle advised Strader about the status of her campaign printing costs, logo and brochure design. "I neglected to ask you for a donation of $440 from you and your spouse," she wrote. "I would really appreciate your contribution. Please, one more favor, would you provide five or six other names that I may meet over coffee or I can approach for a similar donation? We could use it."

But after she'd placed her name on the ballot, Daigle didn't enjoy quite the same respect or attention from Strader. On Aug. 24, he shortchanged her on a maximum contribution, giving her just $250 and not sending any money from his spouse or other relatives. By comparison, he and his family gave at least $1,500 to Agran's campaign on Sept. 24.

According to professional polling information reviewed by the Weekly, Daigle's candidacy is pulling thousands of votes away from Choi and will block him from winning.

Confident the public would never learn that his political machine already secretly stole next month's election, a jovial, backslapping Agran walked into the Irvine City Council chambers for a rigged Oct. 10 mayoral candidate's forum.

Adam Probolsky, a Republican pollster and campaign consultant, organized the event. Until about a few years ago, Probolsky openly despised Agran, but that has changed. Nowadays, Probolsky routinely uses his forum as a part-time Orange County Register columnist at the paper's Irvine World News to brazenly shill for Agran's machine and its tainted Great Park machinations that have funneled tens of millions of public dollars into the hands of Agran campaign consultants on questionable, no-bid city contracts.

He is also, you should know, a close associate of Strader.

Adam Probolsky Irvine Agran ocw2.jpg
Meranda Carter / OC Weekly

Probolsky's candidate forum was a ruse from the start because Choi, who fired Probolsky as an aid several years ago and knows well that he's now in Agran's camp, refused to participate because of the conflict of interest. Nevertheless, Probolsky disingenuously continued to publicly bill the event as a three-way candidate's forum. His sole purpose was to assist Agran's jump from councilman to mayor by holding a major event that could do what Daigle couldn't do on her own: raise her name identification for voters.

Indeed, though there was never any chance Choi was going to play dupe in the forum scheme, Probolsky placed the councilman's name on a placard in front of an empty seat at the council chamber dais and told the audience he was waiting for him to appear.

Larry Agran Adam Probolsky rigged forum 6.jpg
Choi: Smart enough to avoid the Agran-Strader-Daigle-Probolsky trap.

Once the forum began, Probolsky admitted he knew Choi wasn't going to show, mocked him as a conspiracy-theory loon, and then gave Agran and Daigle 10 minutes each to speak uninterrupted. He then paused, announced without warning that he wanted an audience question, squinted his eyes as though he were searching the room for a questioner and quickly picked a lady wearing a purple outfit who was sitting in a front row.

She was a plant.

"I have a question for the empty chair," the woman said, reading from a notecard prepared before the start of the debate when nobody supposedly knew Choi wouldn't attend. "Mr. Choi, how can I trust you to represent me and others when your absence indicts that you are probably not a person who listens well to others, especially to those who disagree with you. Thank you!"

Daigle smirked. Agran cocked his head back, smiled and nodded in agreement.

Probolsky made a joke at Choi's expense, refused to take any more audience questions at the time and returned to a format that gave the two candidates a whopping 10 minutes each to answer a softball question. Not surprisingly, Agran appeared to be a wise elder statesman compared to Daigle, who gave rambling, disjointed answers and acknowledged that she enthusiastically supports Agran's alleged leadership on issues such as education.

But Agran--one of the best jugular-piercing experts in modern California politics--saved his best for Choi. After hailing Probolsky's "objectivity" and calling him a "good moderator," he pounced.

Larry Agran Katherine Daigle stage 4.jpg
Meranda Carter / OC Weekly
Agran was delighted by the fake candidate forum.

"Uh, you mentioned Adam, the fact that, uh, Council Member Choi wasn't here," said Agran, pretending once more for the audience that he's not a sneaky bastard. "His loss, maybe. But it's the community's loss. I believe in the old Woody Allen saying repeated on Sex and the City and in other forums that 80 percent of life is showing up. And certainly, if you're a candidate for public office, you should show up. . . . I want, maybe, to begin tonight just asking everyone here to give a round of applause for everyone who showed up, including yourselves."

Agran probably doesn't know there's a fitting Woody Allen quote for him, too.

"Some guy hit my fender," the entertainment star once said. "And I told him, 'Be fruitful and multiply.' But not in those words."

Go HERE to read a prior Weekly exclusive news report on Agran's corruption.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
(rscottmoxley at ocweekly dot com)

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