Failed Thorpe recall committee finally submits finance report, contractor disputes claims he stole money, took signatures

Required Form 460 months late; contractor provides accounting for payments received

Of the $46,000 raised $43,900 paid to signature gathering coordinator in 9 installments without a contract

Committee treasurer, assistant treasurer refuse to answer questions; two organizers provide some details

By Allen D. Payton

Undated text from Lindsey Amezcua mentioning Bryan Schafer and Blitz Canvassing. Source of all texts: Kathy Cabrera

The failed Committee to Recall Lamar Thorpe finally submitted their required campaign finance report last week. Committee treasurer, James Pringle shared it in an email message on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, wrote “Please find attached, the PDF copy of the Form 460 that I mailed out last Wednesday.” Antioch City Clerk’s Office Administrative Analyst Edgar Villanueva, confirmed receipt of the report on Thursday saying, “I just got it in the mail, literally this afternoon.”  Committee to Recall Thorpe Form 460 1-19-23

The report and information shared by the paid contractor, Bryan Schafer, during a 40-minute interview this week, undermine the claims by the committee members of “criminal activity and fraud” made on the day they announced the recall’s failure.  Their further claims that he stole $23,000 and didn’t turn over the signatures to them is in dispute. But three of the organizers, Treasurer James Pringle, Assistant Treasurer Tom Hartrick, who was the main person handling the committee’s finances, refuse to answer questions, and Amezcua refuses to answer most questions on the record to provide the details for the public of what transpired. However, Amezcua did go on the record to refute what Schafer said about the number of signatures he submitted and the amount he was to be paid. (See related articles here and here)

As previously reported, the committee’s press release issued on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 read: “Due to various reasons, including Covid and a paid signature company that failed to turn over signed petitions after receiving payment, the recall will not be on the November ballot. Signing efforts during this recall period showcased that close to 11,000 Antioch residents signed the petitions believing that Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe is not providing good leadership for the City of Antioch and we thank them for stepping forward.

To be transparent with the community, due to what we believe is criminal activity and fraud by a professional signing company hired to assist us in signature gathering, paid signatures were not turned over or collected after paying over $23,000. In addition, over 1,500 signatures, gathered by volunteers, were delivered to the signature company, paid to validate as registered voters, were not returned.”

Committee to Recall Thorpe – Form 460 portions of p.14 Schedule E Payments Made

Nine Payments Totaling $43,900 Made to Contractor

The report, known as a Form 460, was due last summer and shows the committee raised $46,077.27 and spent $45,045 leaving $1,032.27 cash on hand. It also shows who contributed $100 or more and how the funds were spent.

There were three large contributors including the largest amount of $15,000 from former Assemblyman Jim Frazier, followed by $4,000 from Kenneth Turnage Construction in Antioch, and $3,883.42 from developer Robert Nunn of Brentwood. The remaining contributions of $100 or more were in smaller amounts totaling $9,036.09 and all from Antioch residents or businesses. A total of $14,558.76 was also raised from contributions of less than $100. The details of who contributed less than $100 is not required by state campaign finance law.

Committee to Recall Thorpe – Form 460 portions of p.15 Schedule E Payments Made, continued.

The report shows almost all of the funds raised were paid to “Brian Robert Schafer” of Saginaw, Michigan, misspelling his first name, which is Bryan, who was the contractor hired by the committee. But without a contract.

A total of $43,900 was paid to Schafer in nine payments ranging in size from $1,500 to $20,000 but the report doesn’t provide any dates of when they were made. The committee members previously claimed he absconded with $23,000 as well as the signatures. But that’s not true according to Schafer.

Committee to Recall Thorpe – Form 460 portions of p.16 Schedule E Payments Made, continued.

Questions for Schafer

Questions were sent via text to Schafer Thursday evening asking, “How much of the $43,900 did you pay the people you hired to gather the signatures? How much were you charging per signature? How many voters’ signatures were gathered for the effort? How many did you submit to the committee? To whom did you submit the signatures? Has any legal action been taken against you by the committee? They claim you left town with $23,000 and the signatures causing the recall to fail. Is that true? Did Lamar Thorpe or anyone else pay you to leave Antioch without turning over the signatures?”

Schafer Says He Didn’t Steal Money or Signatures

Undated text messages between Amezcua and Schafer on amount of deposit and number of signatures.

During a 40-minute interview Thursday night, Schafer gave his side of the story completely refuting the claims of the recall organizers.

“The number they contracted for me to get was 6,000 signatures,” he stated. “From the beginning they were having trouble paying me to keep people in the field gathering signatures. They were paying me each week a few thousand dollars. But when they ran out, I had to pay out of my pocket. I had to hire quite a few independent contractors because of the problems they were having with the Thorpe supporters who were hassling our white petitioners. We call them ‘blockers’. It was quite a lot of opposition for such a small town. I had to hire African Americans.”

“I hired a total of 12-15 signature gatherers by the time we finished,” Schafer added. “My dad was one of my petitioners. He got harassing phone calls and texts, even until last fall. Just messing with him.”

Asked how many signatures were gathered and submitted to the recall organizers he said, “I know it was over 3,000 signatures, because they were in the hole $800 or $900 to me.”

Asked how much he charged the committee Schafer explained, “It was $10 per signature for the street price. Normally we do $13.30 which was $10 for the street price and $3.30 for me. But they were up front in the beginning they would have trouble raising funds.”

Texts dated April 1, 2022 between Schafer, Cabrera and Amezcua, showing rate of $10 per signature and who was to receive the completed petitions

“We agreed once I got 3,000 signatures, they were going to give me my override of $20,000 at the halfway mark,” he continued. “When I submitted the 3,000 signatures the painter guy (Tom Hartick) said it was the last of the money and it was to see me through the rest of the campaign. But we still needed 3,000 signatures which with my override would be another $30,000 not $20K.”

Asked if signatures were given back to him for verification Schafer said, “They were supposed to give the signatures back to me and pay my office workers 50 cents each to validate them, but they couldn’t come up with that money and that they were going to handle it in a different way. But they were only to give me the signatures they had gathered before they hired my company because I had already validated the signatures we had collected.”

“Lindsey, Kathy and the assistant treasurer are who I dealt with. And I met the one lady’s husband, who collected signatures from me.” Asked if that was Lindsey he was referring to, Schafer said, “yep.”

“When they paid the final $20K it would have only covered 2,000 signatures,” he continued.

A total of $43,900 was paid which covered 3,000 signatures at $13.30 each plus the city clerk’s recall.

“The City Clerk’s recall was only $3.00 per signature. So, some of that has to be factored in,” he explained. “I’d say I didn’t get over 1,500 signatures on that.”

“My override was factored into all of it” Schafer added. “They already said they were strapped for cash so I couldn’t charge them an override for both petitions.”

Text message dated April 7, 2022 from Amezcua to Schafer providing talking points for his paid signature gatherers.

Asked if he had a signed contract Schafer responded, “I asked them for something in writing, but they kind of dodged around it. Their exact words were, they had to talk to someone about getting a written agreement, but we never did one. It was a verbal agreement.”

Asked about Blitz Canvassing he responded, “I don’t know where you guys got that from. I know Blitz Canvassing. They’re a nationwide company. I’ve never worked with them in the 10 years I’ve been petitioning. Although I’ve hired several people from Blitz. The first meeting I had with Kathy and Lindsey, I told them my company was Designated Petitions. We talked for several hours.”

However, Kathy Cabrera refutes that sharing it was she and Alicia Taylor who meet with Schafer and

“I gave them a 1099,” he added. “I haven’t received a tax form from them so I can get my workers their forms.”

Asked about the claim that he didn’t pay the signature gatherers he hired he stated, “My workers got paid. That’s how they keep working for me. I couldn’t be a coordinator if I didn’t pay my people.”

Schafer said he rented a house in Pittsburg that had 12 beds costing $3,000 per week.

“I was able to house all my people there,” Schafer shared. “They all worked in Antioch at one point or another.”

When informed that Hartrick said no police report was filed because he was told it’s a civil matter Schafer responded, “I was never worried about it because I knew.”

“If they had the $30,000 to finish the signature gathering, we wouldn’t have had the time to finish,” he explained. “If they had hired us at the beginning not 50 days before the deadline we could have gotten it done.”

“I’ve been doing this for about 10 years. I started coordinating about four or five months before I met them, Schafer stated. “Now, I’m coordinating Southern California. Now, I’m on my way to the top. It’s my five-year plan. According to my boss, I’m a sub-coordinator. My boss sends me $40,000 to $60,000 at a time to go buy signatures then I ship them to the Bay Area,” where he’s based.

“He’s technically not my boss because I’m an independent contractor,” he added.

Regarding Thorpe, his committee or anyone else paying him to leave town, Schafer laughed and said, “Looking back on it, I wish he had.”

“My boss saw the initial article in the Herald and he kind of laughed at it because we’ve worked together for the last six years and he knows me,” he added.

Questions for Committee Members Go Unanswered

Questions were sent Thursday evening to Pringle, Hartrick, Amezcua and Cabrera asking, “Why did it take so long to submit your committee’s Form 460? How many total voters’ signatures did the effort collect? How many signatures did you receive from Bryan Schafer? Since he was paid in installments, did you receive signatures with each payment? How much were you paying for each signature? How did the payments to Mr. Schafer work, did he hand you a stack of completed petitions, and you handed him a check? Did someone on the committee first verify the validity of the voters’ signatures before paying him each time?”

They were also asked, “When were the payments for $3,000 and $20,000 listed last on the report made to him?

Do they total the $23,000 you claim he took without providing signatures to you? How many signatures did he owe you at that time? Why did you pay a lump sum $20,000 to him unless he was also handing you the petitions with the remaining signatures required to reach the necessary total at the same time? Who handed him the check?”

They were then asked if the amounts Schafer shared of $10.00 and $3.30 per signature were correct and if it’s true Amezcua retained about 6,000 signatures. “If so, what did you do with those petitions which contain voters’ names, addresses and signatures? Were they destroyed or do you still have them?”

They were also asked if what Schafer is claiming is true, that he was never given any signatures gathered by volunteers before he was hired, to verify, because the committee couldn’t afford the 50 cents per for his office staff and, “if so, where are those petitions with the signatures?”

The organizers were also asked, “What vetting was done before he was hired? Did you check to see if he really owned Blitz Canvassing and had a business license from anywhere or obtained one from the City of Antioch?”

They were also asked if they were aware that on Blitz Canvassing’s website a Bryan Schafer is not mentioned, nor that they do business in California, before Schafer was hired?” and if any of them ever know that he told Kathy Cabrera and Alicia Taylor that his company is Designated Petitions.

Amezcua was asked, “was it the other signature gatherer you mentioned in your text who told you Bryan was with Blitz Canvassing? Or did Bryan tell you that?”

They were all asked, “Did you have a signed contract with him? If so, please provide a copy of it. They were all then asked if it was true that Schafer asked to get things in writing, but they never had a signed agreement with him.

The four were then asked, “Was a police report filed? If not, why not? Have you taken any legal action against Mr. Schafer or his associate, Kim Ridley to at least recover some or all of the funds you claim he stole from the committee?

The organizers were asked, “What will you do with the remaining $1,032.27 remaining cash on hand? Will you send it to former Assembly Jim Frazier who contributed the most to the effort? Or will you be using it to pay any fines for submitting your Form 460 late?

Amezcua was asked, “Did Bryan give the petitions with signatures to you and your husband as he is claiming?

Did you keep any of those petitions with the signatures? If so, how many signatures did you have or do you still have in your possession? Or did you destroy them? Did you or anyone else from the committee give Bryan any petitions with signatures on them for his office staff to verify at 50 cents each, including signatures gathered before he was hired?

Amezcua was also asked, “was it the other signature gatherer you mentioned in your text who told you Bryan was with Blitz Canvassing? Or did Bryan tell you that?”

They were all asked, “Was Bryan paid for all the signatures he and his team gathered for both the Thorpe and Householder recalls? Who agreed to hire Bryan? Who paid him each of the amounts listed in your committee’s Form 460? How many signatures did he submit for her recall? Did you agree to pay Bryan and his team $13.30 per signature for the Thorpe recall, including his $3.30 per override, and $3.00 per signature for the Householder recall? If not, what were the amounts agreed to? Do you have the accounting broken down for the number of signatures you received, and the amounts paid to Bryan?”

Cabrera Responds

In response, Cabrera wrote, “He NEVER mentioned Designated Petitions. Lindsey told us he was with Blitz and he clarified it to us at the initial meeting that he was with them – but he and Kim [were] doing this as their own business.”

Cabrera confirmed that, “It was Lindsey’s hubby David” who received some of the signature petitions from Schafer.

“We gave Lindsey his information and she connected with him after that. After the initial meeting,” she added.

An additional question was sent to Cabrera Saturday morning, Jan. 21 asking about the press release received from her email account on May 11.

“With whom did you discuss and develop the press release? Who signed off or agreed to it for publication?” she was asked.

Cabrera responded in writing, “The press release was a joint effort between Lindsey, Tom and I.”

Possible Retaliation Against Cabrera for Providing Information to the Public

On Friday night, Jan. 20, Cabrera informed the Herald that after the email was sent to Hartrick, Pringle and Amezcua containing the text messages between Amezcua and Schafer, Cabrera had been removed as an administrator from the Facebook page set up for the Thorpe recall which was since renamed Antioch Watchdog Lamar Thorpe.

Asked if that was done in retaliation by Amezcua, Cabrera responded simply, “Yep.”

Cabrera was asked who else was or is an administrator for that Facebook page. She responded, “Michelle Kuslits who is friends with Lindsey.

“Noticed several mutual friends blocked me yesterday,” Cabrera added.

City Clerk Won’t Fine Committee but Can File Complaint for FPPC Enforcement

Questions were also emailed to Antioch City Clerk Ellie Householder late Thursday afternoon asking when the report was originally due. Because she can assess a late fee fine of $10 per day to the committee Householder was also asked if she will be fining the committee for each day it was late and if so, how much the total will be.

She was also asked, “Was the committee required to submit a Form 497 or any other form for each contribution or expenditure of $1,000 or more?”

Householder responded, “I will not be fining him, because we haven’t issued fines in my office, before. We can file a formal complaint with he FPPC (California Fair Political Practices Commission) and let them handle the enforcement. I will check with my team to determine what other remedies are at our disposal.”

Text Messages Between Amezcua and Schafer

In a comment below the August 11, 2022 post on the Antioch Herald Facebook page of an article about the committee’s lack of reporting their campaign finances Amezcua wrote, “I’ve told you multiple times I’m not on the financial committee and I am not the recall organizer. Please stop including my name in these articles.”

However, text messages between her and Schafer clearly show she was one of the recall organizers.

In undated copies of texts between the two Amezcua asked him, “Brian, what deposit amount is needed from us?” Schafer responded, “I will need 25000 to start.” He then asked, “We said 5,500 for the mayor’s recall?” Amezcua responded, “Let me check with our campaign treasurer and nail him down for a check.”

In an April 1, 2022 text thread with Kathy Cabrera, Schafer wrote, “256 mayor $2,560; 151 city clerk $453; $3013 total. Who do I give these signatures to?” Cabrera responded, “That would be Lindsey as she has all the petitions.” Amezcua responded, “I can pick them up at Safeway in about an hour or so if you’re there?”

In a text thread on April 7, Amezcua wrote, “Good morning, Bryan. I’m sending you talking points for your signature gathers [sic] to perhaps alleviate any more altercations” referring to the confrontations by Thorpe and some of his supporters. She then provided a list of reasons why the mayor should be recalled.

Amezcua Refuses to Answer Most Questions

Amezcua responded in two emails with information that she wrote was off the record. So, the following questions were sent to her, again Saturday morning, Jan. 21 asking, “Did Bryan give the petitions with signatures to you and your husband as he is claiming? Did you keep any of those petitions with the signatures?

If so, how many signatures did you have or do you still have in your possession? Or did you destroy them? Did you or anyone else from the committee give Bryan any petitions with signatures on them for his office staff to verify at 50 cents each, including signatures gathered before he was hired?”

Regarding Cabrera’s removal as an administrator from the Antioch Watchdog Lamar Thorpe page, Amezcua was asked, “did you remove Kathy Cabrera from the Antioch Watchdog Lamar Thorpe Facebook page? Are you an administrator of that page? If you didn’t do you know who did or who else is an administrator for that page? Was her removal done in retaliation of her providing answers and information about the recall?”

Following a third email from Amezcua with information she would not share on the record, additional questions were emailed to her Saturday afternoon asking, “How many signatures were gathered by the volunteers? If you were the one receiving the signatures, did you tell Tom how many so he would pay Schafer the correct amount for each batch? How many batches of signature petitions did you tell Tom you had received? What happened to the signature petitions? Were they destroyed? If not, where are they?”

Finally, she was asked, “Do you think it’s fair that those who contributed financially to the effort and the voters and residents of Antioch who signed the petitions are not informed what happened with their money and signatures and information?”

Additional Questions for Organizers

The following questions were then sent to Hartrick, Pringle and Cabrera Saturday afternoon asking, “Who received the signature petitions from Bryan? Did they tell either of you how many signatures had been submitted to ensure you paid Bryan the correct amount for each batch? How many batches of signature petitions did the person or people he submitted signatures to tell Tom they had received? What happened to the signature petitions? Were they destroyed? If not, where are they?”

Finally, since Cabrera is the only recall organizer to answer questions and provide information about it, Hartrick and Pringle were also asked the same question posed to Amezcua, “Do you think it’s fair that those who contributed financially to the effort and the voters and residents of Antioch who signed the petitions are not informed what happened with their money and signatures and information?”

Cabrera, Amezcua Refute Per Signature Payment Amounts, Number of Signatures Gathered

Regarding the amounts charged per signature by Schafer Cabrera responded, “Thorpe: $10/signature; Ellie: $3 signature; Verification: $0.50/each. Then rest of the financial questions I cannot answer as I do not know the answers. Sorry I’m not much help But I never got involved in the financials and Lindsey was the ones with the petitions.”

Asked if she had ever collected or received any of the signature petitions from Schafer, Cabrera responded, “Oh sure – I worked signing tables and gathered signatures and gave them to Lindsey. I signed the completed petition forms.”

But Cabrera did not receive any of the signature petitions from Schafer.

Amezcua responded with the following information.

“No, I did not receive 3,000 valid signatures as claimed.  It was less than 1,800 for Thorpe and less than 900 for Householder,” she wrote. “I was never told about any ‘override’ cost and have never seen any evidence that supports that claim.”

8,000 Signatures Gathered as of April 22nd

However, in an April 22nd letter to the editor from Cabrera she provided a “Recall Update” writing, “We have 8,000 Signatures and 9,511 is what is required to put the initiative on the ballot. Our goal is 10,000 signatures. So, 2,000 more signatures are needed with a little less than 3 weeks to go!! Our Pro Signers as well as Volunteers are still working hard throughout the city to get us to our goal.”

Yet, how many of those signatures were gathered by volunteers versus by Schafer and his team is still not clear.

Check back later for any additional responses or other updates to this report.

the attachments to this post:

Cabrera removed from Thorpe FB page

Lindsey & Bryan text 4-7-22

Lindsey & Bryan texts re deposit

Lindsey & Bryan texts 4-1-22

Committee to Recall Thorpe – Form 460 Schedule E Pmts Made_Page_2

Committee to Recall Thorpe – Form 460 Schedule E Pmts Made_Page_3

Committee to Recall Thorpe – Form 460 Schedule E Pmts Made_Page_1

Lindsey text re Bryan & Blitz Canvassing

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