Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, weighs in on county firefighter OT dispute — for a fee

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — U.S. presidents typically go on the speaking circuit when they leave office and earn millions. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox will record a personalized message — happy birthday, what have you — for less than the cost of a bounce house.

And guess who hired him? A political action committee that’s backing the Kern County Firefighters Union, which would very much like 5th District Superintendent Leticia Perez to change her position on a controversial issue — overtime pay for county firefighters.

Last month supervisors voted 3-1, with one abstention, to limit that extra pay.

Fox — president of Mexico from 2000 till 2006 — was subsequently hired to push the union’s position. He recorded a 60-second message, posted on Youtube and Facebook, that was directed to Perez.

“The firefighters in your county, your Kern County, which you supervise, are really needing support for its firefighters,” Fox says in the video. “They render a solid service to the community and I think they deserve to be supported by everybody.”

Fox was hired by Americans for Safe Neighborhoods, a Bakersfield-backed PAC that attacked Supervisor Mike Maggard in 2018 for his vote to ban recreational marijuana. The PAC also opposed Prop. 47, the bail reform effort.

T.J. Esposito, spokesman for Americans for Safe Neighborhoods, helped arrange the endorsement video — a service for which Fox typically charges $255.

“Fox … does do political videos, specifically in matters that affect Latino communities,” Esposito said. “In that situation he does have the ability to accept the request for comment, or deny it. It’s the same thing with public speaking. If you want them to speak at your event, you pay him for their time and they’ll get involved in the issue.”

What kind of impact might Fox have on Kern County government policy? We’ll find out. It’s not every day a foreign leader endorses a local issue and calls out a county supervisor leader. This may be a first.

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