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By Californian file photo
BY LOIS HENRY Californian staff writer email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Former State Sen. Michael Rubio confirmed Wednesday that a highly placed oil executive, a campaign donor whom he described as a close personal friend, helped him with the purchase and sales of two homes.
That includes the $681,000 four-bedroom, five bathroom El Dorado Hills Home Rubio bought last March.
Rubio characterized the deals with Majid Mojibi, president of San Joaquin Refining Co., who also has interests in several other oil and energy related businesses, as completely "above board."
Rubio abruptly announced last Friday that he was resiging from his State Senate seat for a position with Chevron. He cited family reasons but the move raised eyebrows because of Rubio's record of working with oil companies.
An official with the state Fair Political Practices Commission said last week the office would conduct a routine review of the situation to make sure there was no violation of the conflict of interest rules in the Political Reform Act.
"We will look to see if there is something to indicate that the Act was violated and, if so, we will take a look at it," said FPPC Chief of Enforcement Gary Winuk, before Rubio's real estate dealings came to light.
Rubio maintained he has adhered to the strictest of ethics while considering the Chevron job and that his home sales were very far removed from anything to do with the oil business.
He said he met Mojibi while working out at a gym in Bakersfield and the two became fast friends.
"It was personal, not professional or political."
A call to Mojibi's home was not returned.
When it became apparent in 2010 that Rubio had to move out of his home at 320 Quincy St. because it was outside the 16th Senatorial District he was running for, Rubio said he and wife Dora, opted for a short sale.
He had a real estate agent working on it when Mojibi contacted him asking about the house because he wanted to buy it for a relative. Rubio said he put Mojibi in contact with the real estate agent and had nothing further to do with the sale.
"It went through the normal transaction and was approved by my lender," Rubio said. "It didn't sell for a dollar more or less than the short sale process dictated and I made zero money on it. In fact, I lost money."
A Mojibi relative still lives there, Rubio said.
Some have suggested Mojibi sweetened the deal because online real estate sites had it valued at much lower than the $185,000 price Mojibi paid on March 4, 2011. Rubio explained that was because the online sites hadn't included the increased square footage added on over the years.
Tony Ansolabehere, Kern County Deputy Assessor, confirmed that had been an issue and that the Assessor's office had adjusted the square footage as well.
Zillow.com estimates the home's worth at about $120,000 today.
The Rubios ultimately bought a house in Shafter.
When they decided to buy a house in the Sacramento area to ease the strain Rubio's Senate job was putting on the familiy, he said he couldn't get a conventional loan because of his past short sale and the loan on his Shafter home.
So, he contacted Dcm Assets Management LLC, a property investment and loan company that Mojibi also has an interest in.
"That's what they do, make loans to people so I asked if they would consider drawing up a loan at market rates that I could pay while I continued looking for a conventional loan," Rubio said. "This was all done in consultation with my attorney."
They did and Rubio bought the home on March 28, 2012, according to El Dorado County Assessor records. He said he had bought such a large house because of expected visits from family members.
"Dcm and I agreed the best solution was for me to quitclaim the house to them, which I paid for, and we drew up a lease agreement where I rent the property from them for $3,000 a month, which I have been paying every month," Rubio said.
Records show Dcm bought the home from Rubio on Aug. 2, 2012 for the exact amount he first paid.
Mojibi family members have donated more than $21,000 to Rubio's Senate campaign between 2009 and 2011. And two of Majid Mojibi's companies, Tricor Energy LLC and Tricor Refining LLC, have donated at least $18,000.
Rubio shrugged off the idea that such campaign contributions would make him beholden to "big oil."
"When you start a campaign, you reach out to family and friends first," he said.
He denied there has been any conflict of interest due to his home sales/purchases or his job switch.
"I just want to move on and be with my family," he said.