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    Supervisor Andrew Do’s ridiculous smear of LAist reporter Nick Gerda
    • December 20, 2023

    Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do has come under much needed scrutiny for his involvement in approving millions of dollars of public funds to Viet America Society, a nonprofit organization in which his daughter has had a leadership role.

    This editorial board, citing this and his clearly established record of cronyism and pay-to-play activity, has called for Supervisor Do to resign.

    In response to this, Supervisor Do has offered little but deflection and word games to obfuscate his well-documented and unethical activities.

    But now Supervisor Do has reached a new low.

    In a press release published online today, Supervisor Do accuses LAist reporter Nick Gerda, who has done courageous reporting on this issue, of linking to a “falsified” IRS document belonging to the Viet America Society.

    “The tax filing that Nick Gerda has cited about Rhiannon Do’s employment with the Viet America Society in 2021, which he argued required disclosure, was in fact forged. Viet America Society’s 2022 tax return was modified to say 2021 in order to create a false timeline,” said Supervisor Do, who also called for Gerda to be fired.

    Strong words. But what’s the truth?

    What obviously drew Supervisor Do’s ire was a recently published story by Gerda titled, “Nonprofit Led By OC Supervisor’s Daughter Failed To Submit Required Audits For Millions In Spending, Records Show.”

    As part of a much larger piece, Gerda’s story links to two tax returns, one from the 2021 calendar year and one from the 2022 calendar year. The 2022 form lists Supervisor Do’s daughter, Rhiannon Do, as vice president of the organization. According to Gerda’s past reporting, Rhiannon Do’s LinkedIn profile indicated her title was “president” of the organization from July 2021 onward, though this was changed amid LAists ongoing reporting.

    Here’s where Supervisor Do, or whoever did his research for him, appears to be confused. Stay with us, as this gets into the weeds.

    The 2022 form linked by Gerda does, in fact, say “2021” in the upper right hand corner of the document. But it also says “For the 2021 calendar year, or tax year beginning 01-­01-­2022 , and ending 12­-31­-2022.”

    This editorial board searched ourselves for Viet America Society’s tax returns.

    Nonprofit ProPublica shows the 2022 tax returns for Viet America Society with “2022” clearly marked in the upper right hand corner. The only apparent discrepancy is the year in the top right corner. Otherwise, the figures and information contained in the tax return linked by Gerda and the one linked by ProPublica for the same year appear to be identical.

    We next searched, which also contains financial information on nonprofit organizations.

    Sure enough, the 2022 return on includes the same quirk as the document linked by Gerda: “2021” is included in the upper right corner of the document, while also saying, “For the 2021 calendar year, or tax year beginning 01­-01-­2022, and ending 12­-31­-2022.”

    Supervisor Do, in other words, appears to at best be confused and worst seizing upon a minor glitch in a document available from a reliable clearinghouse on nonprofits in order to distract from all that Gerda has dug up.

    Supervisor Do certainly knows that most people won’t have the time or will to dig into comparisons of Form 990s. And so, he has teed off on a reporter who has rightly brought to public awareness that he knowingly steered public funds to a nonprofit headed up by his daughter without disclosing that.

    The one point of contention Supervisor Do actually has with Gerda’s reporting is over the legal status of the nonprofit.

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    In 2023, the California Attorney General warned the nonprofit that it “is prohibited from engaging in conduct for which registration is required, including soliciting or disbursing charitable funds” due to a delinquency dating back to the 2020 fiscal year. Gerda also showed that in 2020 the county’s contract administrator told colleagues she had “serious concerns about issuing a contract to this organization that appears to be a home based business and can’t verify their non-profit status.”

    In response, Do’s screed against Gerda meekly explains, “In fact, the Viet America Society was given 60 days to cure a paperwork filing deficiency with the California State Attorney General and has always been a legally registered non-profit organization.”

    Throughout this entire scandal, Supervisor Andrew Do has shown that he will go to great lengths to excuse away and deflect from his unethical behavior. It raises legitimate questions about what else he’s done and what else he is hiding.

    Once again, we call for Supervisor Andrew Do to stop misleading the public, to take responsibility for his unethical behavior and to resign from office immediately. He cannot be trusted with public funds or public office.

    ​ Orange County Register