Chain of Emails Strongly Suggest Former Councilwoman Kris Murray is a Paid Consultant for Anaheim First
Kris Murray with Mayor-elect Harry Sidhu and Amelia Castro (now a member of Anaheim First’s Board of Directors) at the Disneyland Hotel in 2018.
By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher
A chain of emails the Anaheim Investigator recently obtained from the City of Anaheim during a routine California Public Records Act request strongly suggest that Kris Murray, a former Anaheim City Councilwoman, is working as a paid consultant for Anaheim First, a shadowy 501(c)3 nonprofit group created by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce to promote its interests.
The first email in the chain, written by Xochitl Medrano, Director of Community Engagement for Anaheim First, consists of a message “reaching out” to David Belmer, Director of the Planning and Building Department, “on behalf of Leslie Swan and Kris Murray with Anaheim First,” inviting him to speak to their members later that month at the Chamber’s office near Angel Stadium.
It is reproduced here in its entirety:
From: Xochitl Medrano <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2019 12:10 PM
To: David Belmer <DBelmer@anaheim.net>
Cc: Leslie <Leslie@AnaheimFirst.com>
Subject: Inviting you to speak again to Anaheim First members
I tried leaving you a voicemail on your office line but I wanted to make sure you also have my email. My name is Xochitl Medrano and I am reaching out to you on behalf of Leslie Swan and Kris Murray with Anaheim First.
We would love for you to speak again to Anaheim First members at our Onboarding meetings to talk about how the city’s Planning & Building Department operates and what residents should know about zoning. We are hoping you are available on June 19th and June 26th (both at 5:30 pm at the Chamber).
If you can let us know at your earliest convenience that would be most helpful. Also, if you cannot attend and would be able to send someone that would be great too!
Director, Community Engagement
2099 S. State College
Anaheim, CA 92806
In response, Belmer told Xochitl:
Hi Xochitl. I am out of town at a family reunion on the 19th but available on June 26. Does it work if I only attend on the 26th?
The next day, Leslie Swan, Director of Anaheim First, jumped in by sending out an email graciously thanking Belmer for “accepting to speak to the Anaheim First Neighborhood Leadership Council on June 26th.” But Swan then quietly added Murray to the discussion, using the email address of her political consulting firm, KLM Strategies:
From: Leslie Swan <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2019 11:05 AM
To: David Belmer <DBelmer@anaheim.net>; Xochitl Medrano <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Kris
Subject: Re: Inviting you to speak again to Anaheim First members
Hi David, thank you for accepting to speak to the Anaheim First Neighborhood Leadership Council on June 26th. These are additional members, 10 for each district. We offered two dates for convenience purposes. Since we are splitting up the group in two sessions is there anyone in your office that could walk through the presentation you shared with us last September and Q and A’s? In our meeting here with the consultants, there was mention that many community members do not understand zoning and planning. We thought your presentation to Anaheim First Advisory Board in September is one that is on point with the process of the upcoming assessment. If you could assist us with someone from your office on the 19th it would be greatly appreciated. We are looking to have the meeting here at the Chamber 2099 S. State College Blvd. Suite 650, Anaheim at 5:30 pm. If there is any change on the location we will reach out to you. Enjoy your family reunion!
Director Anaheim First
2099 S. State College
Anaheim, CA 92806
A copy of the entire chain of emails can be downloaded here.
What role Murray has played in Anaheim First has been the subject of widespread speculation for several months now. Hundreds of photos reviewed by the Investigator clearly show Murray has been a visible presence at their secret meetings, including one held at the Anaheim Convention Center on March 13th where she was seated next to Councilman Jordan Brandman.
Mayor Sidhu speaks to members of Anaheim First during a secret meeting at the Convention Center while Brandman eats a salad and Murray snaps photos.
The emails the Investigator uncovered not only reveal that Murray’s involvement in Anaheim First is much deeper than what is publicly known, but they underscore the political nature of this group. Murray and Swan are friends of Mayor Sidhu. So is Xochitl‘s father, Ernesto Medrano. In fact, all three were guests at Sidhu’s victory party at his Anaheim Hills estate last December.
For matter of record, the Investigator sent two emails to Anaheim First asking for more information about Murray’s work for their group.
The following questions were posed:
Is she an employee or independent contractor? How much compensation is she getting? Is she being paid a regular salary? Or a flat fee?
A similar message was sent to Murray at the email address she uses for KLM Strategies.
But so far, they haven’t responded.
I read your article about Kris Murray. I am trying to figure out where the “story” is. Kris is a seasoned professional and if Anaheim First (or any other organization) hired her I think they would be making a good choice. She is very experienced in all levels of government, has spent her professional career in service to her community, and is above reproach in her reputation and work product. I know Kris Murray’s heart and have respected and admired her for nearly a decade.
I think you should spend your incredible energy investigating how Anaheim First can be funded. The concept upon which it was founded is pure and focused on the community, the neighborhoods, and the needs of those less fortunate in our city. The fact that it was founded by the business community in partnership with the City is a very good thing in my book. However, the challenge remains…how do we fund it? I have some ideas as to the answer to this question and would volunteer to have you write a story about said ideas in your next article.
Duane, I have said this to you before…”You are a gifted researcher and writer, I would love to see your energy used for constructive missions for the benefit of all of Anaheim.”
Feel free to call me or email me if you’d like to learn more.
Excellent letter Bill Taormina . I support Kriss Murray and agree with Bil’s letter . I have watched the dedication both of these amazing people continue to give to elevate Anaheim to a higher standard. Duane you could accomplish more for the good of Anaheim with less negativity reporting. With your ability to switch from such negativity would certainly elevate your standing with the public. Sadly to see you go after one person I have grown to highly respect Kris Murray is — well I have no words. Do I agree always with our elected or formerly elected – of course not, but if you would spend some time to look back into her public service record , you could write a winning book . So enough with the bashing.
Native of Anaheim, born 1934 – JO AN BURDICK GOTTLIEB
I’m sure all these people are just worried that Todd wore a wire and God knows how many of them and their friends are on tape doing their shenanigans I’m sure as time goes on will see all the dominoes fall and they all turn on each other to save themselves. It’s very sad these people call themselves conservative or Republicans and engage in behavior like this in our city there’s no room for people like this in politics.These people have added A stain to our city it’s gonna take a long time to remove.They all operated in darkness but now that the light is shining on them we’ll see how fast they run. It is time to get these career politicians at office and get new blood in. I think you’re on the right track with this article we will see what happens as time goes on.