Costa Mesa Confidential
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Costa Mesa Mayor John Stephens Uses Taxpayer Funded Event to Promote his Campaign

The Fourth of July celebration was put on with taxpayer funds which Stephens promoted on this campaign social media.

This month, Costa Mesa Mayor John Stephens appeared to use a taxpayer-funded event as promotional material for his mayoral campaign, which some have raised as a questionable ethical violation. Stephens, who lost his bid for reelection in 2020, was directly appointed as mayor by the city council. 

The event, which was Costa Mesa’s Fourth of July celebration show, is a free event paid for by Costa Mesa taxpayers. Yet on Stephen’s Facebook page for his mayoral campaign, he advertises himself holding up a flier for his event. Some have portrayed this as Stephens using the “free” city event to promote himself ahead of the November election.

The Facebook page Stephens used to publish the materials appears to be his official mayor page, calling it “Costa Mesa Mayor John Stephens,”. However, it links directly to his campaign website, with his campaign website also linking directly to the Facebook page. It also features other fundraising advertisements for his campaign.

The photo of Stephens and the promotional flier also contains advertising from One Metro West, an 1,050 unit apartment building project owned by company Rose Equities. Stephens accepted a $5,000 donation from Rose Equities ahead of the 6-1 vote by the city council approving the project. Despite residents showing opposition to the high density apartment complex, the council moved ahead.

Costa Mesans have the ability to halt construction of the One Metro West property due to Costa Mesa’s Measure Y requiring this type of project to be on the ballot in November. However, Stephens is pushing to reduce residents’ control of city projects through an effort to eliminate Measure Y. 

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