Scott Ellis 9:46 p.m., April 22
Top port cop gets provisional intelligence moonlighting OK from state watchdog
Fabled "Sheriff of Baghdad" and Marine reserve Lieutenant Colonel gets conditional go-ahead to cash in on links to anti-terrorism intelligence
The assistant chief of the Port of San Diego's Harbor Police, an expert in Islamic counter-intelligence, has received conditional approval from the state's Fair Political Practices Commission to go freelance with his legendary anti-terrorism and criminal intelligence experience.
But a few details still remain to be determined.
Boasting a celebrated takedown of a major Iraqi official during the U.S. invasion there, Mark Stainbrook became assistant chief of the San Diego Harbor Police in November 2011.
He's also a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, with more than 26 years of military and law enforcement experience, part of it keeping track of Islamic populations in the U.S and United Kingdom.
Dubbed the "Sheriff of Baghdad" for a rough-and-tumble takedown of Hekmet Alawazi, Saddam Hussein's minister of finance, Stainbrook became an overnight star on CNN and later got a Fulbright Fellowship and worked intelligence for England's West Yorkshire police in Pakistani-Muslim communities where the July 2007 London bombers had lived, according to a letter signed by FPPC general counsel Zackery P. Morazzini.
After that Stainbrook moved back to Los Angeles, becoming a lieutenant in L.A.P.D.'s Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, “continuing to work with Muslim communities and then in intelligence,” according Morazzini’s July 15, 2013 letter.
Part of Stainbrook's L.A. assignment was controversial with Islamic activists and their backers in the Los Angeles African-American community, who accused him and his bureau colleagues of racial profiling regarding a 2007 proposal to map Islamic neighborhoods, allegedly for enhanced surveillance.
Said the Rev. Eric Lee, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, in a November 2007 interview with the Long Beach Press Telegram:
"We have been fighting profiling for years. We don't see the LAPD mapping out skinheads. We don't see the LAPD mapping out neo-Nazis. We don't see the LAPD mapping out corporate criminals. This is an effort to profile people based on their race."
Added the paper:
The controversy erupted after LAPD deputy Chief Mike Downing testified before a U.S. Senate panel late last month that the department was joining with an unidentified academic institution and looking for a Muslim partner to develop the mapping project.
In his testimony, Downing said the project would detail the Muslim communities in the city, along with demographic data and information on social interactions.
In his interview with the paper, Stainbrook denied that L.A. cops would use the data generated by the project to spy on Muslims.
"This was initiated with the idea we need to partner with the Muslim community. The only project is to have a partnership."
"Chief Bratton has made it clear we cannot do this on our own and need feedback from the Muslim community. The whole point is to get people involved.
But critics of the high-tech intelligence project, including Sharif Mourassay of the Committee for American Islamic Relations, were not mollified.
"It is ill-advised and deeply offensive as well as constitutionally questionable. All this does is generate fear and mistrust and looks like you are trying to gather intelligence based on religion and ethnicity."
In a telephone interview today, Stainbrook said the social mapping plan was badly misunderstood by the Muslims, and as a result was not pursued.
Morazzini, in his July letter to Port District attorney William D. McMinn, detailed Stainbrook's current and future moonlighting activities:
In 2008, Mr. Stainbrook developed a relationship with the Center for Defense and Homeland Security at the Naval Post-Graduate School at Monterey, California after speaking to one of their classes on Diaspora Communities and Terrorism. He typically speaks there twice a year.
Since 2011 he has been paid a $500 honorarium for each time he lectures. Last year he was asked by a retired Army general whom he had met in Africa to speak to his class at the Monterey Institute for International Studies, for which he was paid a $5,500 honorarium. He receives a W-1099 for any paid speaking engagement.
(Stainbrook told us today that the $5,500 figure was misstated in Morazzini’s letter and that he had received $500 for the presentation in question.)
Most recently, Mr. Stainbrook was published in two newly released books and hopes that these publications will generate future speaking engagements.
As to whether Stainbrook can legally profit from his outside activities, Morazzini offered a mixed opinion.
Mr. Stainbrook is only prohibited from accepting any payment for giving talks and lectures that are not made in connection with the practice of a bona fide business, trade, or profession.
Under the facts you have presented, it appears that the payments Mr. Stainbrook receives are in connection with a bona-fide business, provided, however, that the predominant activity of the business is not speechmaking, as explained below.
The letter went on to say:
A business is presumed to be “bona fide” if the owner of the business has maintained the following documents for the two calendar years immediately preceding the year in which the consideration for the payment was provided:
(1) Books and records of accounting consistent with the operation of a business; and
(2) Copies of tax returns filed in connection with the operation of the claimed business.
Even if the presumption applies, a business is nevertheless not a “bona fide business” if its sole or predominant activity is speechmaking.
...Speechmaking is presumed to be the “predominant activity” if, during the 12-month period prior to and including the date of a speech: (1) more than 50 percent of the hours spent on the individual’s business is devoted to the preparation and/or delivery of speeches; or (2) fifty percent of the gross income of the business is derived from the preparation and/or delivery of speeches.
Absent information regarding the hours devoted to or the gross income derived from speechmaking by Mr. Stainbrook's business, we are unable to determine whether the predominant activity of the business is speechmaking.
Stainbrook told us today that port district attorneys are now evaluating the FPPC letter and expect to formulate a response regarding their own evaluation of the situation.
If it is determined that his speaking fees were not permitted by law, he said, he would refund them.
Stainbrook added that he does not currently have a business license, but might obtain one for future outside activities, based on a final determination in the case.
More like this:
- War is a junket — March 19, 2014
- California's political watchdog OKs media moonlighting by Assembly staffer in San Diego — June 7, 2013
- Islamic Center of San Diego, San Diego — Sept. 1, 2005
- The Controversialist — April 14, 2005
- Atrocious Act — March 7, 2002