ICYMI · News · Press Release

BREAKING: Voice of OC: Michelle Steel Caught In Private Plane Pay to Play Scheme

This Time Steel Steered a Lucrative Taxpayer Funded Airport Contract to Her Top Campaign Donor – ACI Jet

Today, Michelle Steel is set to approve plans that would severely increase private corporate jet traffic over the homes of Orange County families and against the deep concerns of Orange County residents.

Explosive new reporting from the Voice of OC today shows how Steel worked to steer a 35-year exclusive bid airport contract to one of her top campaign donors and private corporate jet company – ACI Jet – in what has been described as “a process choc full of corruption concerns.”

Campaign finance records from the last two years show direct employees and executives with ACI Jet in total contributed $19,600 to Steel’s congressional campaign. Meanwhile, Steel has given at least two contracts to ACI Jet and pushed private jet expansion that would benefit ACI Jet despite the serious and strenuous objections of Orange County residents.

Statement from DCCC Spokesperson Andy Orellana:

“Michelle Steel’s pay-to-play scheme gives taxpayer dollars to a corporation that has completely ignored the residents of Orange County and turned a deaf ear to their concerns. Steel isn’t a tax fighter for Orange County families who put their concerns first, but a corrupt career politician who is making sure her corporate campaign donors get the business they want regardless if it comes at the expense of Orange County families and taxpayers. Today, Orange County Congressional candidate and OC Board Chairwoman Michelle Steel further solidified her status as Orange County’s most corrupt career politician.”


Voice of OC: Private Jet Plan for John Wayne Airport Sparks Resident Concern and Corruption Allegations

By BRANDON PHO // 9.15.20202

Orange County supervisors today are set to approve plans that could spike private jet traffic at John Wayne Airport, amidst a process choc full of corruption concerns from residents alongside significant political jockeying and public infighting among the companies competing for the three lucrative contracts.

Several county supervisors have been called out regarding their handling of the private jet contracts.

County Supervisor’s Chairwoman Michelle Steel has been called out for campaign contributions she took for her congressional bid from ACI Jet, one of the companies vying for the private jet contracts.


But it’s not going through without objections and criticism by supervisors’ political foes and the aviation companies who sought the same full-service operator contracts but lost their bids to the companies up for contract today.

Supervisor Steel — whose district encompasses the airport and most affected communities — has come under fire from her political opponent in this November’s election, 48th District Congressman Harley Rouda, for taking tens of thousands of dollars from ACI Jet for her congressional campaign.

Steel didn’t respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment Monday.

Federal Election Commission campaign finance records show direct employees and executives with ACI Jet in total contributed $19,600 to her congressional campaign.


The scheduled vote today has also prompted objections from rival aviation companies like Atlantic Aviation — which unsuccessfully bid for the contracts — with lawyers for the company filing requests for public records around the county’s initial calls for the airport contract bids and through legal memos demanding the county delay the vote.

One letter from Rutan & Tucker, the law firm representing Atlantic Aviation, alleges county staffers are “fast tracking” the decision on the contracts:

“Specifically, that it is scheduled to be before the Board of Supervisors on September 15, 2020, rather than in November as previously publicly announced,” the firm’s letter to the county reads.


Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who voted along with supervisors Steel and Andrew Do back in August to move forward with the three companies up for contract today, denied any claims that supervisors or county staff were fast-tracking the process to Voice of OC on Monday.

“This is not being fast tracked. This process has been going on for nearly four years and is now coming to the Board of Supervisors for a decision,” Bartlett said.

She also denied any notion that her past association with a current lobbyist for Clay Lacy, Jeff Corless, had an influence on her vote to move forward with the company on Aug. 11.

Corless was Bartlett’s campaign manager for supervisor…



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