Cindy Allen, a candidate for Long Beach City Council’s Second District seat, has filed multiple legal complaints against her opponent Robert Fox’s campaign, including allegations of stalking, surveillance and illegal background checks — all of which Fox has denied.
Allen and Fox will vie to represent District 2 in the Nov. 3 election.
Allen submitted reports or complaints, based on information provided by a former ally of the Fox campaign, to the Long Beach Prosecutor’s Office, the Long Beach Police Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which have all confirmed they have received the complaints.
“On or about September 18, 2020, the City Prosecutor’s Office received a complaint regarding a number of acts which, if true, could violate state laws,” City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said in a statement. “The allegations are not Elections Code violations, but they focus on conduct by a candidate for Long Beach City Council seat and are in connection with that candidate’s campaign. This inquiry is still in the initial stages.”
The information in Allen’s 26-page complaint, which the Press-Telegram obtained, all came from Lee Richmond Charley, who says he was a volunteer for Fox’s campaign for much of this year.
Charley said in interviews that many of the actions he took to help Fox’s campaign — like surveilling a house Allen owns in Fountain Valley and discussing installing a camera to watch the property 24/7 — crossed ethical lines. He came forward to Allen last week, he said, to atone.
Fox, meanwhile, said he had no part in Charley’s actions and that Charley was not part of his campaign staff.
“He’s never been on my campaign because he’s too volatile of a person, too much of a loose cannon,” Fox said in a Monday, Sept. 22, phone interview. “I kept warning him, ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do this. It’s not right.’ But he’s uncontrollable.”
Emails, text messages, photos and videos exchanged among supporters of Fox’s campaign and provided by Charley to the Press-Telegram appear to show, however, that Fox and others were at least aware of Charley’s actions and, in some cases, cheered him on. Members of the Fox campaign interviewed for this story did not dispute the authenticity of those communications.
One email written in March by a campaign supporter to Fox and others — including Charley — detailed a plan called “Operation Allentown” to investigate whether Allen lived in Long Beach or Fountain Valley.
Allen owns a house in Fountain Valley and two condos in Long Beach. City officials have repeatedly confirmed that she lives in Long Beach and is eligible to run for the City Council.
Charley said that he visited the Fountain Valley property 85 times as part of “Operation Allentown.”
Allen’s complaint also says members of Fox’s campaign used drones to film her Long Beach condos, ran illegal background checks on her and members of her family, and created fake social media accounts to make it appear as if Allen did not live in Long Beach.
Fox and others on his campaign denied all of those accusations.
But emails exchanged between some members and supporters of the campaign showed that Fox and others were aware, at least, of Charley’s surveillance.
“I am going to follow her home to Fountain Valley,” Charley emailed the team on April 14, with photos of her Long Beach condo building.
Ian Patton, a member of Fox’s campaign and a longtime city activist, responded: “careful, but i love it Rich.. (sic)” Patton emailed back. “you are the ultimate intrepid!!”
In a phone interview, Patton said Charley was acting on his own accord, though he acknowledged he initially supported Charley’s actions.
“He was on his own mission,” Patton said. “At first, we just thought he was pretty eccentric, and obviously, if you have a citizen who wants to go off and do stuff and is generally supportive (of your cause), you’re going to be generally supportive of that.”
But Patton said he felt Charley crossed a line when he filmed the current tenant of the Fountain Valley house.
“Robert Fox and me both told him to cut it out,” Patton said. “He has never been part of our campaign, and now he’s saying a lot of crazy stuff.”
Emails also show Charley and another Fox supporter — with the candidate and campaign members copied — discussing the installation of a camera to watch the Fountain Valley property 24/7.
Fox said he was unaware of that plan but acknowledged it could have been discussed by others.
Charley and Fox said, to their knowledge, a camera was never installed.
Allen, for her part, said she believes Charley’s decision to come forward proves that Fox’s campaign has engaged in unethical and potentially illegal behavior.
“On a local level, the council person has the biggest impact on quality of life, and I care about these voters,” Allen said. “I care about the issues. I care about what happens in this city.
“To see someone like (Fox) who has no respect for this process, no respect for the voters,” she added, “it’s just really been devastating to watch.”
Fox and members of his campaign, meanwhile, denied any wrongdoing.
Charley stands by his account.
He said he didn’t come forward to tear Fox down. He said he merely felt like his own experience was important information for voters.
“I just wish Long Beach citizens would know the real truth,’” he said. “If they understood the full picture of what’s really going on, they can make a better, more informed guess.”