Late Breaking

HI THERE, WELCOME TO WAL-MART


Late Friday evening the rumors began. By Sunday it was common knowledge– Armando Garcia had suddenly submitted his resignation as Executive Officer of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC).

An unknown party emailed me a copy of the upcoming commission meeting agenda for Tuesday, November 18. At that time Garcia’s resignation will be accepted and an interim Executive Officer will be appointed. A search committee will be appointed to fill the vacant position.

There has been some word that Garcia might be preparing something in writing to give his side of the story at the meeting. But the fact of the matter is that he was given a choice to resign or be terminated, and for what it is worth his office has been cleared out.

Since word has reached the boxing/MMA world of Garcia’s sudden departure, there has been considerable speculation as to the reason. Well, hang on to your hats because I have three sources that claim that the reason is sexual harassment, I believe the only crime in which you practically have to prove your innocence.

In September 2007, we ran a two part investigative series concerning Garcia’s alleged violation of Chapter 18, Article 6308 of the Professional Boxing Act of 1996. The series made the case that Garcia accepted compensation, accommodations, travel, and meals for training seminars of sanctioning bodies and state commissions to violate this federal law.

Through the Freedom of Information Act we obtained copies of the three years of Garcia’s Conflict of Interest Disclosure Report, form 700. According to Garcia, he had “No Reportable Interests,” something that it would seem that the IRS might have interest in following up.

Former staffers have said that it was common practice for Armando to accept gifts and lunches. He’s been seen quite frequently in Las Vegas enjoying a boxing show in the front row. Actually, I don’t care if he received a courtesy credential. I’m more concerned about how he got there, what he ate, where he stayed, and why wasn’t it reported on that form 700?

Early this year, in another two part series we examined Garcia’s personal ethics in collecting travel claim advances and irresponsible handling of state funds, placing as much as $350,000 without accounting in an unlocked file cabinet. If a party was to make a withdrawal, how would you know?

Further, we looked at wasteful policies that permitted his very own group of inspectors, the so-called “Men in Black,” to work one or two bouts and claim a full night’s pay as well as travel expenses when appropriate.

A source alleges that while on medical leave she received a call from Garcia to review his outstanding travel claims, stated to be about $4,000. The state has hotels such as Hilton that offer a “state rate.” Nevertheless he would search for a budget hotel and share a room with a subordinate. In addition, the employees generally paid for all of his meals, parking and expenses.

My informant told Garcia that she disliked the cheaper hotels. She felt unsafe and told him that they would have to repay the state for the difference. As I wrote in that second series, it strains credibility to believe that anyone would go through these machinations to present an honest claim. They should be audited.

The series also listed a number of examples that Garcia operated a hostile work environment. Several staff members complained about favoritism of certain event officials. Others endured profanity laced verbiage used freely in front of subordinates. Examples included the referee called “too fat” to work on TV, a judge singled out as not being allowed to sit within camera sight, and a referee chastised for having tattoos.

Garcia was said to make a “post show” speech loaded up with profanity and negativism with working officials and subordinates. One former employee said that Garcia, “out of his mind in anger, scared me with his outburst and actions.”

It was also alleged that Garcia made it common practice to inform visiting sanctioning body presidents or their representatives of the scores of fights. If proven to be true, this would constitute a serious breach of the public’s trust, as potentially those visitors could advise their fighter’s corners by word or sign.

There was all of this and considerably more. Any one of these items might be considered grounds for termination, one might think, particularly the criminal acts if proven to be true in a court of law.

So while much of this does involve harassment of sorts, just how does it fit in with the sexual harassment referenced earlier?

Well, a female office technician, Lily Galvez, was observed “hand feeding” Armando and adjusting his attire at events, in the office, and in the field. She also accompanied him on trips. In itself this is third party harassment because others in the office could question perceived favoritism because they chose not to fulfill his every whim.

The problem is that when a couple is so obvious about their in-house affair, it’s not long before the whole crew knows it.

“Everyone said it was a secret and how did I find out?” My source asked. “I told them it was his own office staff that tells all. They’re the first ones to tell the gossip and news.

“Why be tight lipped now? Everyone knows now. It was a stupid thing to do on both parts.”

Apparently Lily cut off the relationship and Garcia continued to pursue it anyway. Taking in account the dozens of interviews and documentation for the articles, I almost feel as if I know Armando on a personal basis. I can only imagine his response for being dumped and rejected in his own office.

In any event, Lily Galvez filed suit charging sexual harassment.

Armando Garcia had a network working from coast to coast to cover his back in the face of any impending danger, a fact I can attest to by personal experience in my investigations. Further, you have to seriously wonder why the California Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the CSAC, failed to take appropriate action with this man after I gave the criminal information to their legal counsel, Anita Scurri.

This past February at the CSAC meeting Agenda Item 16, “Evaluation of Executive Officer” was held under closed session, and when the meeting was reconvened to open session there was no further public discussion. It’s not as if they were not warned. I sent every committee member a copy of my articles.

Good going, California. You broke it. You bought it.

So after all of this, it’s the sexual harassment suit that turns out to be his undoing. Bureaucrats, much like businessmen, are highly hypocritical and really don’t care what you do when you bring in revenue as long as you don’t bring them bad publicity and cost them money to settle lawsuits. Then it’s easier to replace someone than support him/her.

It’s all very ironic.