Will Gibson’s emails to his lover surface before election?

April 23, 2014
Bruce Gibson

Bruce Gibson

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

For more than 17 months, San Luis Obispo County officials have claimed they are attempting to comply with the California Public Records Act, yet they have failed to provide emails that could tarnish the reputation of a supervisor currently running for reelection, as required by law.

The California Public Records Act is a powerful tool used by reporters and the public to uncover governmental shortcomings and illegal activities. The act was enacted more than 40 years ago after it was determined that timely public access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right.

Nevertheless, nearly a year and a half has passed since San Luis Obispo County received a public records request for emails exchanged between Supervisor Bruce Gibson and his romantically entangled legislative assistant Cherie McKee, who previously went by the name of Cherie Aispuro. The county promised Los Osos resident Julie Tacker, the maker of the request, six years of Gibson-McKee emails but has only delivered two and a half years of messages, Tacker stated in a grand jury complaint she filed Monday.

In November 2012, Gibson revealed that he had been engaged in a long term affair with McKee. The second-term supervisor announced that McKee had won his heart and that he was planning on divorcing his wife of multiple decades.

Three days after learning of the affair, County Counsel Rita Neal and County Administrator Dan Buckshi cleared Gibson of any wrongdoing. Neal and Buckshi said they reviewed approximately 6,000 emails between Gibson and McKee and determined the pair had not used any county resources  and had not violated any county policies during the course of their affair.

On November 29, 2012, Tacker submitted a request under the California Public Records Act for the emails Neal had already reviewed, as well as other documents she examined, such as travel reimbursements. Neal responded saying it would require considerable time to review and redact the emails, but that she estimated it would take less than a month to deliver them.

Neal has since sent Tacker several batches of emails but has not released any since November 2013. The majority of the emails remain outstanding, Tacker said.

Gibson, who is nearing the end of his second term, is currently running for reelection. The primary election, which will likely determine whether or not he keeps his seat, takes place on June 3, and absentee voters will receive ballots in two weeks.

“The evidence, if provided at this time, would be detrimental to the supervisor’s bid for reelection,” Tacker wrote in her complaint to the San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury. “The delay and over-redacting surrounding this particular request is not because it is voluminous as much as it is because it reveals that indeed county resources were used in the supervisor’s affair.”

Gibson said in his Tribune announcement of the affair that he and McKee always gave 110 percent to the job. But, one string of messages released by Neal brought into question whether Gibson and McKee were always hard at work.

On April 12, 2012, Gibson and McKee agreed by email to postpone a conversation with a constituent until the next day.

“OK, I don’t have the energy to deal with this today anyway,” Gibson wrote in an afternoon email.

McKee responded to him that day at 4:01 p.m.

“I just woke up,” she wrote. “You wiped me out.”

“Sorry to be so demanding! :)” Gibson replied.

This year, Tacker has given Neal three reminders of the outstanding record request, none of which received responses, Tacker wrote in her complaint.

In a prior reply to Tacker, Neal said she managed to review the thousands of documents in just a matter of a few days because, as the county attorney, she could view parts of documents exempt from public disclosure. She later said during a board meeting that complying with the request was taking hundreds of hours of staff time and costing the county thousands of dollars.

Neal did not respond to a CalCoastNews email asking why she has not released the emails and whether or not it has anything to do with the upcoming election.

Tacker copied the grand jury complaint to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office and would like for a member of the agency to instruct Neal to comply with the public records act, she said.

It is unlikely the grand jury would take any action on the matter prior to the June 3 election. Still, if the body chooses to investigate the matter, there exists the possibility of the grand jury finding wrongdoing beyond failure to comply with the records act.

If the grand jury were to find criminal conduct on the part of Gibson or other county officials, it could call for prosecution.

“Who knows what’s in there?” Tacker said. “There could be criminal implications on more than just the public record act.”


137 Comments

  1. fishing village says:

    I’m sure reading….the Tribune is hard for some people. It is our only local daily and is a great source of news, articles about what is happening in our county and has supplied many articles about candidates, and their views. Try it you might learn something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 19

    • givemeabreak says:

      Yes Fishing Village it is very hard to read the Trib’s BIASED reporting. That is why very few read it anymore. You call the Trib a great news source? That explains most of your kool-aid flavored posts. t

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 7

  2. rogerfreberg says:

    I heard his recent ad…. boring… vote for me and I will actually do something…helping the environment ( when I am not planting trees on my property)…

    Oh yeah, we need another 4 years of this guy…. besides Caren and Adam need to find a new friend.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 7

  3. fishing village says:

    Yeah! Tribune endorses Bruce!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 26

  4. slomike says:

    Did anyone at this site notice the article about Dow and ethics today? Seems an apt topic for a fair and balanced local news source.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 19

    • Kevin Rice says:

      A fabricated story. Complete smear aided by the daily.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 14

      • Kevin 99 says:

        As of 5 minutes ago, I wasn’t sure who was going to get my vote in the D.A.’s race. But if Kevin Rice is supporting Dow, I am most assuredly going to support Covell. Thank you for that, Kevin.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 12

        • kayaknut says:

          The same can be said for the mayor of Arroyo Grande, just take a look at his front yard signs and it helps at least to determine who not to for vote because anybody he supports you know has issues. Remember Mr. Ferrara always supported Mr. Wallace and the millions who wasted at the OCSD and probably still does, and that’s enough to question those the mayor supports.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 5

      • paragon says:

        A fabricated story? Really?

        So you are saying the Tribune is lying when they state that DA Candidate Dan Dow accepted $5,000 in campaign donations from attorney James Murphy while Murphy was representing a defendant Dow was prosecuting? Did they also falsify the campaign contribution records showing the same, as well as the quotes from Dow, Murphy, and Covell about the issue?

        Indeed your accusation of fabrication amounts to libel against the Tribune if you have nothing to back it up, so please elaborate on why you claim that story was made up by the Tribune and is not true.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

        • south says:

          Sadly, the obviously bright and passionate Kevin Rice appears to blindly follow any candidate with an R after his name. All the while slamming liberals who do the same. the DA is a non partisan office, a real non partisan office unlike the Supervisors’. I say blindly because anyone who will listen to the facts cannot elect an attorney with 9 years experience in the law and literally no felony trial record to be the chief prosecutor for this county. If, as Mr. Dow claims, it is simply management and leadership that the office needs, hell, let’s just elect a management consultant.

          Also surprising is that Kevin, as a working firefighter, is willing to ignore the fact that a “firefighter 1″ is running for “chief” and trying to convice the voters that the rest of the “firefighters” like him so he must be qualified.

          Mr. Dow has run to the government employees’ unions (yes the DA’s have a union – currently suing the taxpayers of this county), the defence attorney’s and the Republican party for support. Mr. Covello has gone to the judges (most if not all have donated to his campaign), the law enforcement chiefs (the Sheriff is on the ballot and should not endorse), and law enforcement management. Which group is more qualified to understand that experience counts, and that a track record is more important than a fine set of bleached teeth and a winning personality?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

        • givemeabreak says:

          The “Fibune? ” hahahahahahahahahahahhahaha The worst source of info of what is happening in our county. Biased as they come.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. fishing village says:

    I’m wondering if the same people defending ex-Mrs. Gibson are the same ones that attacked her when she was Bruce’s wife. You know who you are.!! A lawsuit was filed against her professional firm, who did that? There is plenty of blame to go around!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 29

    • kayaknut says:

      Typical, ignore one persons faults by trying to point out someone elses. It still doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Gibson choose to tie his private life to his political life and now you seem to wnan to seperate them, too late, Mr. Gibson made his choice long ago.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 36 Thumb down 9

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