City Council candidate receives second threat letter

Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner

The message accuses Jefferson Wagner of tax violations and threatens to send information to the IRS and The Malibu Times if he does not drop out of the campaign.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Two days after an article was published in this newspaper about an anonymous threatening letter to City Council candidate Jefferson Wagner, another one arrived at his surf shop, Zuma Jay’s. The letter warned that further information about Wagner would be turned into this reporter.

This second letter was handwritten. The first one was typed. At the top of the letter, it says “IRS.” It addresses Wagner as “Mr. Zuma Jay,” and then lists eight first names, with an initial following three of them. Wagner told The Malibu Times some of these names are of current or former employees at Zuma Jay’s.

The letter states, “Well let me remind you that you did not pay tax’s [sic] for each. Big Problem [sic] Don’t run for office or these names will be turned inTo [sic] IRS and Jonathan Friedman w/Much More Details.”

Wagner said the person who sent the letter was “probably somebody following the business very closely,” but he did not think it was an employee.

“I kind of doubt it, because they [an employee] would have come up with a better list,” Wagner said. “Some of these are legitimate names of [employees], some are made up.”

Wagner said he has no payroll tax issues, and has received several clean audits, including one from the State Board of Equalization prior to his appointment as co-manager of the Malibu Pier and another following his divorce.

“I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent squeaky clean because there’s always something they can say you’ve done wrong,” Wagner said. “But I’m 99 percent clean, and I’ve never paid a penalty or any interest on a penalty through any business relationship.”

Wagner turned the letter into the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. Detective Misty Snow has been assigned to the case. She was in court this week, and could not be reached for comment.

Wagner said he had some theories as to who might have sent the letter, but he declined to mention any names.

“It would only be speculation, and I’m not going down that route,” Wagner said. “I’m going to take the high road in this campaign no matter what.”

He said he did not feel threatened by the letter, nor did he feel that way about the one sent last month that alleged he did not live in the city, and warned “we have people watching.”

“Some of this you just got to roll with,” said Wagner, who added he was bothered that dealing with the situation was taking up his time.

“I’d rather be doing positive campaigning than putting Band-Aids on negative campaigning,” Wagner said. “At what point is this person or persons going to realize it’s not going to affect me personally or affect my campaign, and move on?”

Wagner is one of five candidates running for three City Council seats. The other candidates are Mayor Pro Tem Pamela Conley Ulich, Kathy Wisnicki, John Sibert and Susan Tellem.

Election Day is April 8.