Thousands of cellphone text messages accidentally released by Mayor Teresa Jacobs paint the clearest picture yet of how the sick-time ballot initiative was kept off the Nov. 6 Orange County ballot.

They also show the influence of corporate lobbyists and legal confidantes on Jacobs, who ran as a maverick outsider willing to take on powerful interests.

The messages show how she, her staff and a ring of informal advisers worked with businesses to defeat the measure, which would require many employers to provide sick time to their workers.

The battle over the sick-time initiative raged for weeks, ballooning into one of the most fierce Orange County political fights in years.

After a six-hour hearing, the commission on Sept. 11 voted 4-3 to delay voting on the initiative until after the deadline for printing the fall ballot had passed. Jacobs did not vote for the delay, but she has called the ballot language misleading.

“These secret texts have pulled back the curtain on an ugly puppet show where special interests pull the strings, politicians dance and 50,000 voters who signed petitions get left out in the cold,” said Stephanie Porta, a leader in the Citizens for a Greater Orange County group behind the measure. “What if this is just the tip of the iceberg?”

Sentinel Exclusive: Jacobs’ texts show coordinated campaign with foes of sick time
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