July 2020 — Utterly Corrupt And Incompetent Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff Organized A Scheme To Have Some Zillionaires Pay His Buddy Tom Penn Of The LA Football Club $100K For 250K Face Masks For LAPD To Hand Out For Free — Pretty Shady But Then In August — With The Masks Ordered, Delivered, And In LAPD Possession — Michel Moore Announced “I’m asking for us to hold any distribution on masks until Josh has fully organized messaging for our people as well as externally” — Which Took Two Weeks — Until September 4, 2020 — How Many People Caught COVID During Those 14 Days? — Who Would Not Have If They’d Had A Mask? —How Many Of Them Died? — Who Thinks Messaging Is More Important Than Public Health? — Psychopaths — That’s Who

This post is about a series of emails involving Steve Soboroff and Michel Moore discussing the donation of 250K face masks in July 2020 for LAPD to hand out for publicity purposes. The whole collection is available here on Archive.Org. If you could use these in a usable format like MBOX or EML drop a line and I’ll work it out.

Zillionaire typewriter fetishist Steve Soboroff serves on the Los Angeles Police Commission. Officially his role consists of little besides acting as one of Michel Moore’s five voting proxy members and asking Jamie McBride how high whenever he’s instructed to jump. Unofficially, though, Soboroff seems to revel in the endless opportunities to fantasize that he and Moore are actual friends in real life and they’re hanging out like socially or something.1 Another of Soboroff’s favorite hobbies is sharing access to Moore with his zillionaire buddies, of course.

Not necessarily for social clout, although that’s not nothing, but often to arrange porkbarrel bucks for the ZBs. Like for instance on July 12, 2020 we find Soboroff emailing Michel Moore2 conveying an offer from Los Angeles Football Club supreme commander Tom Penn to sell a bunch of face masks to LAPD to hand out as a publicity stunt.3 Note that Soboroff doesn’t say word one about public health. It’s just not something that’s on his radar at all. But think how COOL it’s gonna be!!

Tom Penn and his family have created high quality disposable masks. I’ll get samples Their idea is for all officers to have supplies for themselves and to give out to the public

Design would be friendly (dept could weigh in) and they are individually packaged

Reminds me of dodger card giveaway that cops did that was so cool

Potential of up to a million units

Having officers wear a cool, community friendly styled disposable mask and handIng them out (vs a ticket or warning) seems like a great program


Moore was interested and on July 16, 2020, after an inordinate number of self-congratulatory emails, he emailed Soboroff to ask after the status of the donation. Soboroff told him that he’d just dropped off a box. At the same time that this was going on Jeff Gorell was apparently organizing another mask acquisition and as part of a discussion about this Soboroff emailed everyone on July 30 and happened to mention that the Tom Penn masks had not yet been ordered.

He also notes that “The LA Police Foundation is the way to do these 250,000 as the donors are familiar with the donation process via a audited 501.c.3” The question of who will pay Penn for the masks he’s organizing for LAPD runs throughout these emails. This is a characteristic Soboroff caper. He finds a zillionaire with some crap to sell to LAPD, then he finds a donor to pay for the crap, then he sits on the Police Commission. which votes to accept the crap.4 The outcome is that LAPD gets more crap that neither they nor the City paid for and Soboroff’s buddies make bank from whoever actually does pay.

By August 3, 2020 a plan for packaging up the money to pay Tom Penn was beginning to come together. Moore decided to skip the Police Foundation because it’d be too slow. Instead he decided to funnel the money through the Emergency Operations Center to take advantage of some COVID-related regulation easing. On August 4 Soboroff told his zillionaire buddies, who by now included Casey Wasserman and any number of his ghoulish associates, that the people supplying the cash were going to give it to one of Garcetti’s slush funds and the Mayor’s office would then pay Penn $100K for them:

Our mutual friend, Matt Johnson, via his Covid emergency authority group, is handling details to expedite their acquisition & distribution to LAPD

***both of the $50,000 contributions , per Matt, should be payable to the Mayors Fund. Deidre Lind is the person who Matt said would coordinate

The entity that the mayors Fund will be purchasing from will be provided by Tom Penn

Regards and thanks for all you do for the underserved of Los Angeles and,of course, the LAPD

And this dude actually did thank these zillionaires for helping what he calls the underserved of Los Angeles when clearly the only people he’s thinking of are himself and the cops, none of whom are underserved.5 And Michel Moore was quite happy himself, as he said in this reply email:

Thank you, thank you! The timing could not be better. We are increasingly being asked to take enforcement action and this will provide our people with a much better alternative.

It’s important to note, by the way, that not one participant in these discussions was thinking of public health, of saving lives, of the fact that wearing masks significantly slows the spread of COVID. No one seems to realize that universal mask distribution could have ended the pandemic quickly. None of this is their concern. Soboroff’s a clout-chaser and a fixer reveling in his ability to create publicity and funnel money to his cronies.

On August 20, still thinking of how freaking COOL it all was, how GOOD he was going to look, Soboroff referred to mask distribution as “a perfect ‘small act of kindness’ from thousands of cops to hundreds of thousands of Angelenos” It’s a small act of self-serving publicity seeking, actually. But maybe their motives don’t matter as long as the masks got out so people could use them to protect their health?

There’s an argument to be made there, but motives do matter in that they can shape outcomes. Thinking of 250K masks as a way to save lives rather than as a way to look supercool and get some positive press coverage might induce some kind of urgency in these people, tasked with running the City rather than with bolstering their egos and images.

Soboroff cares about looking good and about skimming money for his co-conspirators. Moore, on the other hand, cares only about the publicity. How will it look? How will it play in the polls? Which is why it makes total and complete sense that slightly less than three weeks after the money had been organized, on August 21, 2020, with the masks paid for and delivered, Moore emailed his top brass along with former Public Information Officer Josh Rubenstein and Soboroff to tell them that messaging was more important than mask distribution:

I’m asking for us to hold any distribution on masks until Josh has fully organized messaging for our people as well as externally. We have a number of potential contributors to the message (Commissioner, philanthropy, MEG) for the external message as well as ensuring we spin up this internally significantly. I’m asking for more than a DOC notice in announcing this to our people.

A few more steps for a clean launch that I’m sure can be in place by early next week.



This is bad. They had 250K masks ready to hand out for free but Moore delayed it so that they had “fully organized messaging for our people as well as externally.” In fact it looks like they didn’t start passing out masks until September 4, 2020, when Rubenstein had it all over their social. Which means that Moore delayed mask distribution for two full seeks so Rubenstein could get their “messaging” straight.

This is what happens when people in charge use their unlimited power to serve their own interests rather than the interests of Angelenos, who ceded the power to them to serve. How many people caught COVID during those two weeks who wouldn’t have if they’d had a mask? How many of those people died of it? Every last one killed by Moore, to whom “fully organized messaging” was more important than human life.

And Soboroff’s no better. He sits on the Police Commission, meant to provide civilian oversight of LAPD, to make them use the power and resources we give them for our public purposes rather than their own private goals. The whole thing is appalling. But not at all surprising.6

  1. A position with which, after reading hundreds of thousands of emails concerning these clowns, I would bet is unshared by Moore.
  2. CCed to Josh Rubenstein, because if a zillionaire does a deed superficially classifiable as “good” but there’s no public information officer present to issue a press release did anything actually happen? I don’t think so.
  3. Handing out face masks in a pandemic is a good thing in most contexts but that doesn’t mean anything else about it has to be good, like the motives of everyone involved, just for instance.
  4. Regardless of Soboroff’s dirty little habits, he apparently did not vote on this particular donation. I can’t find it in the Police Commission agendas, and it’s totally plausible that as the money ended up being funneled through the Mayor’s slush fund that some semi-competent Deputy City Attorney decided it didn’t need to go to the Police Commission as, maybe (because this is speculation), the Mayor’s Fund donated the masks to the Emergency Ops Center, which must be able to transfer goods to LAPD without LAPC approval, right?
  5. Unless you count being served with court papers in civil rights lawsuits, in which sense they are in fact vastly underserved.
  6. It’s really time, don’t you think, to elect the Police Commission directly. Let’s start with one elected member from each Council District.

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