Letter: Is Poseidon Water Buying A MWDOC Board Majority?


Debbie Neev, a Laguna Beach resident and candidate for District 7 of the Municipal Water District of OC board (MWDOC), received a whopping $35,250,89 “campaign boost” recently from Poseidon Water. The Huntington Beach Ocean Desalination vendor acknowledged this relationship via the officially mandated form.

Other major politicos who received “help” in a similar manner, with similar gross sums around $35,000, were Tyler Diep, Cathy Green and Stacey Taylor. (Those forms are available to the public as well.)

Poseidon’s California Form 496 lists the money provided to Neev as an Independent Expenditure statement, filed on September 9, 2020.

Via subsidizing Neev’s slate mailers, the candidate is neither required, nor is there a legal compulsion, to disclose this as a direct contribution due to the manner in which it was progressed.

CWN is wondering why Neev accepted this controversial desalination vendor’s help, it certainly required her permission and collaboration.

What do they all get in return, surely no one naively believes that sums of funding this large don’t come without strings, expectations or IOUs, do they?

Neev’s campaign is being openly challenged due to this Form 496 now being circulated widely in the SOC water community.

Neev is running against incumbent Megan Yoo-Schneider in District 7, which encompasses Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, and portions of Mission Viejo.

Why is a major influence purchaser doing business in a totally different MWDOC district significantly assisting her campaign?

How could Neev NOT be aware of how much opposition there is, how much enmity exists between many potential desalination consumers getting gouged and especially enviro-protectionists regarding Poseidon?

How could Neev NOT know that over the years Poseidon has been accused of outright purchasing political will, and that the optics of this are not good?

This both looks and feels like Poseidon has its proverbial thumb on the scale, trying to monopolize the future of desalination in the OC.

As Desi said to Lucy: “You got a lot of ’splainin’ to do!”

Roger Bütow, Laguna Beach

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  1. In response to Roger Butow letter…
    It is personally offensive to infer that I was aware or gave permission to Poseidon for their contribution to my campaign…I did NOT…and it is insulting to any fare-minded candidate to state otherwise. An independent expenditure (and I just learned this term from my Treasurer) is just that…independent. It is no secret that I have supported environmentally sound desalination for many years. As a LBCWD Commissioner, I represented the agency in the pilot study for the Doheny Ocean Desal project that uses slant well technology and is endorsed not only by Surfriders, but also meets all of the requirements of the California Ocean Plan. I have over three decades of environmental engineering experience cleaning up soil, water and wastewater around the world and view water reliability and new sources of water as a critical need. Desalination is just one tool in the toolbox! I served on the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board during the inception of the OCWD Water Replenishment System, one of the largest water recycling systems in the world and also support storm water capture and innovative conservation efforts as additional contributors. I invite you to look at my record and even better, let’s have a conversation! Perhaps Poseidon made a choice to back me because I’m simply the best candidate! Debbie Neev

  2. Hi Debbie!
    Thanks for responding! Is this to say that we SHOULD expect you to do them favors and this is just a heads up?

  3. Ms. Neev:
    Yeah, now that’s REAL gaslighting and redirection, folks.
    As I wrote, the optics make Ms. Neev look Poseidon chose to back you because you could be bought?
    I’d debate you on this topic, but you’ve got your fingers in your ears….As everyone knows I have a lot of expertise in this field of desalination, work professionally in it.
    Hopefully you & your buds don’t gain seats at MWDOC, plus you’re not hired by our City assist. GM at the water district.
    You’ve been compromised, coopted by the darker forces, maybe GM Joone Lopez out at MNWD has a seat/job for you, you’ve breached your trusting relationship here.
    Acting as if you didn’t know or wasn’t involved, have/had no control, well Ms. Neev: Why DID Poseidon do that, only an idiot would believe that along with the others receiving gross sums (directly or indirectly) willy-nilly.
    Corporations don’t DO favors without expecting favors, power or leverage in return.
    Het, why not do as Trump, say that its a hoax, a conspiracy, dirty politics, an October Surprise, you and the others being set up by Poseidon?
    Now you’re insulting water customers intelligence.
    You’ve been caught, doing another Trumpian contortion now make yourself out to be a victim.
    Wha Wha.

  4. Thank you Roger Butow for bringing this to the attention of voters in Laguna Beach. The fact that Poseidon dropped “a whopping $35,250,89 to boost Neev’s candidacy” cannot be ignored and it raises concerns related to your statement: “What do they all get in return, surely no one naively believes that sums of funding this large don’t come without strings, expectations or IOUs, do they?” I personally am not interested in voting for candidates supported by PAC’s, big spenders and powerful corporations. When I see this, I get very suspicious. And I don’t buy it when candidates respond with “I didn’t ask for their support.” It just never passes the smell test.

    Sadly, this brings me to the fact that we are seeing this type of buying public office positions in our City Council elections as well. It started becoming apparent in 2018 with Liberate Laguna PAC selecting and supporting Sue Kempf and Peter Blake. This year it’s Larry Nokes and incumbent Bob Whalen. This same question should be asked of Kempf, Blake, Nokes and Whalen. What is LL PAC getting in return for their large campaign boost to promote you and destroy your opponents? What strings, expectations or IOUs come along with their financial investment?”

  5. A very poorly written and mudslinging article. I don’t know Ms. Neev at all, but I do know sensationalism when I see it. The great majority of this article conveys no facts at all, but rather one insinuation after another. To inform readers properly you should be stating facts (e.g. exactly the nature of any reward expected by (in this case) Poseidon in exchange for their donation — assuming they did in fact make one — with references to where that information comes from so that it can be cross-checked) and not posing questions masquerading as statements of fact.

    The fact that the amount alleged to have been donated by Poseidon is misspelled (there is no such amount as $35,250,89 — I’m guessing it was meant to end with a 0, but that’s pure generosity on my part) can only further undermine whatever confidence the reader had in the article.


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