In Bed with Big Tobacco⁉️

A mailer called "Honesty Counts Supporting Jeff Gorell & Opposing Claudia Bill-de la Pena" (sic) asserts that Bill-de la Peña gave a "Pot License" in exchange for contributions to her campaign, claiming that she is "in bed with Big Tobacco."
This accusation of corruption and a quid pro quo vote is laughably untrue.
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Here are the facts: on June 30, 2022, the Thousand Oaks City Council voted 4-1 to allow anyone 21 or older to enter and purchase from the city's already-approved dispensaries. The city has a seven-year history dealing with the shifting laws regarding cannabis regulation that you can view here.
Leaf Dispensary, owned by David MacFarlane, is one of these existing dispensaries. The other, Legendary Organics, was approved in July of 2018. According to the Ventura County Star, the co-owners of Legendary were step-brothers Patrick Spillane and Sean Cassar, and the company's director of operations was then-Westlake Village Mayor Pro Tem Ned Davis.
Fast forward three years. According to her Form 460, Hugh Cassar, Sean Cassar's father, contributed $750 to Bill-de la Peña on August 12, 2021. Keets Cassar, his wife, also is reported as contributing $750 on the same date. No other contributions on August 12th are reported. To see the Form 460, click "View" on the report that covers from 07/01/2021 to 12/31/2021. Hugh Cassar founded Kretek International, a specialty tobacco company that is based in Moorpark.
So, that's it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If it were true that there was an exchange of votes in favor of "pot licenses" for campaign contributions to Bill-de la Peña, wouldn't the other three council members have to be in on the scheme somehow? It takes three votes to take an action, after all. There doesn't appear to be any corrupting "Big Tobacco" money contributed to council members Al Adam, Bob Engler, or Ed Jones.
Abe says, "Fun Fact: Jeff Gorell has himself received--and kept--thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from BiG ToBaCcO."
Update: The Acorn has reported about the fundraiser in question; it was held at Mark Watring Stables in Hidden Valley, in November of 2021, on a property that Hugh Cassar owns.
Abe adds, "Should we really expect the truth from the phony folks using the real Honesty Counts' name?"


  • Jeff Gorell
  • Big Tobacco