Peterson names Grover Beach officials she believes took bribes

February 23, 2019

Former mayor John Shoals and current Mayor Jeff Lee


Days after stepping down from the Grover Beach City Council after accusing public officials of corruption, Debbie Peterson has now named the council members she believes have taken bribes. [Cal Coast Times]

“While I support the legalization of cannabis and the benefits of bringing the industry to Grover Beach, I cannot support those on the council, who with their political consultant, crafted a pay-to-play insider game,” Peterson said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “Many members of the community and the cannabis industry report that some dispensary applicants paid council members and their consultant to get their licenses approved.”

Peterson identified both former mayor John Shoals and councilman Jeff Lee as the public officials she believes accepted bribes for three applicants for pot shop permits.

In 2017, amid allegations of threats and backroom deals, the Grover Beach City Council awarded three marijuana shop permits to applicants who were political contributors to Shoals and Lee. Peterson recused herself from the vote because of a conflict of interest, she owned property near one of the proposed pot shops.

At the time, Shoals and Lee veered from staff’s recommendations, selecting Helios Dayspring’s Natural Healing Center, The Monarch and 805 Beach Breaks as their top three choices.

Helios Dayspring, rapper Xzibit and then Grover Beach mayor John Shoals outside a building Dayspring planned to house one of his marijuana businesses

In 2018, three of Dayspring’s former grow supervisors told reporters that Dayspring had paid public officials for votes and support.

Two of the former grow supervisors, who have asked to remain unnamed because of fear of retaliation, said Dayspring paid $100,000 to Shoals at a restaurant to secure one of the lucrative city cannabis shop permits.

Another former grow supervisor, Tony Brocking, said Dayspring boasted of paying public officials.

“Dayspring told me he paid the mayor $100,000,” Brocking said. “He was guaranteed a spot.”

Councilman Lee did not respond to requests for comment. Mayor Shoals denied the allegations.

“These allegations are unfounded and specious, and I am not going to dignify this inquiry with any further response,” Shoals said. “I trust that you will inform whoever is making these false allegations and anyone you are communicating with that I categorically deny these allegations.”

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

How could it be proven?

$100,000 in cash sitting in a safe, used only for groceries and incidentals, that’s why this whole cannabis thing is so ripe for corruption!!!

Lot’s of cash to sprinkle around to the right places, a few political fundraisers and donations, walaah, you now have a permit that limits competition by those that deserve it:(

Yeah…and a few crony golf tournaments and phony charities to launder the ill-gotten cash.

Ask Bill Nicolls. He knows all about it.

Yeppum, Bill knows all about it. Gotta say 5 cities, it is truly mind boggling to see the likes of B/N, friends & family still in office considering his track record of indisputable, first hand, seen it with your own eyes corruption, nepotism and collusion. A textbook display of insanity. Do,do and redo and expect different results, just aint gonna happen.

More than “so ripe for corruption”…guaranteed corruption. ABC licenses are regulated by the State and require a background investigation and conformance with set and transparent standards. Marijuana not so much. Marijuana regulation needs to be at the State level just the same as alcohol. It is transparent, allows public participation at hearings and the rules are defined. The City will still be able to enforce their own planning regulations as to the number and location of retail outlets just as they can with alcohol, just not pick the winners as is occurring in Grover CITY and SLO.