Council candidate receives threat

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Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner

Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner says the threat is “silly” but said he is taking it seriously.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

City Council candidate Jefferson Wagner received an anonymous letter last month that Malibu Lost Hills Sheriff’s detectives have classified as a possible criminal threat. The five-line typed letter was sent to Wagner’s surf shop, Zuma Jay’s, in an envelope postmarked Dec. 21 with no return address. Wagner received it on Dec. 22, he said.

The letter alludes to his residency situation, which has been under scrutiny.

“If you run, the district attorney will prosecute,” the letter states. “You better never go to your house for 4 [sic] years if you run. We have people watching. Never mind the old drug charges and lawsuits.”

Wagner said this week he has never had any drug charges against him and the only personal lawsuit he has been involved in dealt with a worker who hurt his finger on his property, which he said he settled. According to the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Web site, which has a database containing all criminal trial information since 1973, Wagner has never faced any criminal charges in this county during that time frame.

Wagner said, after receiving the letter, he turned it into Lost Hills Sheriff’s officials. A Sheriff’s Department document classifies the letter as “suspicious” and “possible criminal threats.” Sheriff’s detectives did not return calls for comment.

Wagner said he did not notify the local media about the letter because he “didn’t want to color the campaign.” He raised the issue on Monday in an interview with The Malibu Times, Wagner said, because he had been contacted earlier in the day by another newspaper regarding the letter, and thought The Malibu Times was calling about that as well.

He called the letter “silly, stupid stuff.”

“It sounds like a threat,” Wagner said. “It wasn’t fair, certainly something I wouldn’t do.”

However, Wagner is taking the letter seriously. He said he recently spotted a car parked near his current residence on Pacific Coast Highway. When he approached the vehicle that he described as an SUV with dark, tinted windows, the driver suddenly took off.

Wagner declined to guess who might have sent the letter.

Wagner has had a home in Latigo Canyon just outside of the city limits for several years. When he pulled nomination papers for a City Council run last month, he listed his surf shop as his residence. There is a living quarters above the store. However, somebody is currently renting that space. After receiving a letter on Jan. 2 from City Clerk Lisa Pope stating he could not use that as his residency claim because he admitted somebody is already living there, Wagner rented a one-bedroom apartment on Pacific Coast Highway. He registered to vote from that residence and restarted the nomination paper process. Wagner said he is paying the rent for the home.

City Attorney Christi Hogin said this week it was confirmed that he can use that address as his residency. Hogin said a City Council candidate must be registered to vote in Malibu before submitting signed nomination papers into City Hall. The candidate must also be a registered voter for at least 30 days prior to Election Day.

Wagner said he planned to live at the newly rented apartment three to four nights a week, and spend the rest of his time at his Latigo Canyon home. His teenage daughter and longtime girlfriend will continue to live full-time at the Latigo Canyon residence.

Hogin declined to comment on whether living three to four days at a residence is enough.

“We don’t take roll [call] every night, but the rule is you have one place that is your one domicile [home], otherwise you have the possibility of committing voter fraud,” Hogin said.

Wagner has in the past lived at a home he rents next to the Malibu Pier (he cannot live there now because the owner will be moving back into it this year) and at the living space above his surf shop. He said he has been registered to vote for city elections at the two places on separate occasions, but never at the same time. He said he has never been registered to vote at his county property. The Malibu Times was unable to get in contact with Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office officials before the newspaper went to print to confirm Wagner’s statements. It is against state law to be registered to vote in more than one place at once.

Hogin said if a complaint were made to her about Wagner’s residence, she would direct the person to the District Attorney’s Office. She said she had not received any complaints as of Tuesday. As of last week, the District Attorney’s Office has also not received any complaints about Wagner.

Ballot order set

Last week, the County Registrar’s Office confirmed that the five City Council candidates had signatures from at least 20 eligible Malibu voters on their nomination papers, qualifying all for the ballot. Also last week, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen did a random drawing to determine the order the candidate’s names will appear on the ballot. The order will be: Pamela Conley Ulich, John Sibert, Susan Tellem, Kathy Wisnicki and Wagner, who will be listed as Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner.