Complaint with the State Attorney General’s Office filed day before Kinnamon unloaded a series of bombshells

PALM DESERT — Joel Kinnamon, College of the Desert for Trustee Area 4, has filed a complaint with the State Attorney General’s Office requesting prosecution of criminal misuse of public resources for political purposes and is requesting prosecution.

Megan Beaman Jacinto, Kinnamon’s attorney, filed the complaint on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

The complaint with the State Attorney General’s Office was filed one day before Kinnamon shot a series of bombshells across the bow of COD President Martha Garcia — and potentially others.

Kinnamon is seeks prosecution of what is an apparent violation of Government Code sections 8314 and 54964, Penal Code section 424, and/or related codes prohibiting the use of public resources for political purposes, according to the complaint.

During the fall of 2022, candidates were campaigning for two of the elected Trustee positions, those of Area 1 and Area 4. At the time, Aurora Wilson was the elected Trustee in Area 4. Kinnamon, a former President/Superintendent of COD, was her opponent and ultimately won the seat.

After taking elected office, Kinnamon uncovered documents (emails) stating plainly that Wilson and COD President/Superintendent Martha Garcia used COD and legal counsel resources to impact Kinnamon’s campaign, according to the complaint. On Aug. 31, 2022, Wilson forwarded an email from her campaign consultant attaching a draft campaign video to Garcia, asking for Garcia’s feedback on the video. Garcia responded back that same day, telling Wilson she had reviewed the video and
would call her later.

On Sept. 2, 2022, Wilson messaged COD legal counsel Carlos Campos and Garcia, asking if COD could issue a writ of mandate to Riverside County Registrar of Voters to challenge Dr. Kinnamon’s ballot designation, according to the complaint. Garcia followed up on Sept. 6, 2022, reminding Campos of Wilson’s request and asking that they discuss the matter. Campos responded on Sept.6, stating that he would instruct the election expert at his firm to review the matter, and billing records reveal that at least 1.4 hours of legal time was billed to COD related to this request.

Further, on Oct. 16, 2022, Wilson forwarded to Garcia an email from a democratic club, which referred to Kinnamon’s campaign communications, and a website he and his spouse had set up to share information about COD with the public. In response, Garcia responded on Oct. 17 informing Wilson that “Legal” sent a cease-and-desist letter and that additional legal steps may follow. Wilson
responded on Oct. 17, thanking Garcia and referencing her own campaign event. On Oct. 19, 2022, Garcia emailed all Trustees with a legal memorandum prepared by Campos, regarding the status of COD’s legal action toward Kinnamon’s campaign activities and informational website. Wilson responded on Oct. 19 asking Garcia and Campos if the legal memorandum was confidential, implying a desire to share it. It is not clear how or if Garcia and Campos responded.

Later, on Nov. 10, 2022, Wilson once again contacted Garcia and Campos using her COD email  address to ask them if the cease-and-desist toward Kinnamon’s spouse would create a conflict for  Kinnamon in the event that he won election. It is not clear how or if Garcia and Campos responded.

Legal billing records acquired by Kinnamon reflect some but not all of the time Campos and his legal partners spent addressing Wilson’s, Garcia’s, and other  Trustee’ concerns about Dr. Kinnamon’s campaign activities.

It is our position that Wilson, Garcia, and any other involved COD Trustees used public resources (COD) email, administrative staff, and legal counsel) for campaign activities and unauthorized personal purposes, in violation of applicable law, according to the complaint. This violation does not appear to be an anomaly or inadvertence, as COD Trustees implicitly and/or explicitly accused Kinnamon of improprieties and proposed a review of his actions during a public COD meeting in the early part of his campaign,  which Kinnamon was forced to address with legal action. In response to his legal demand letter, COD retreated.

Kinnamon is requesting prosecution.


Image Sources

  • Complaint, (Shutterstock, shutterstock_410755015-e1559764701226.jpg)): Shutterstock