Campaign Contribution Made Following Senator’s Award to Private School

Huff Vows to Return Cash after Abruptly Shuttered School

Leaves Students and Teachers Owed Thousands

Shortly after being named Small Business of the Year by State Senator Bob Huff, the Montecito Fine Arts College of Design abruptly closed its doors in July, leaving students and teachers alike dumbfounded without pay, and without answers. However, Montecito Vice President and wife of the college’s founder showed no restraint when donating $1,000 to Huff’s re-election campaign a month after the college received his award.

According to state election records, Vice President Trisha Zhang, wife of founder Ed Kuckelkorn, donated $1,000 to Huff’s 2012 re-election campaign committee on June 29, almost a month before the college unexpectedly closed down on July 30. Zhang’s generous donation came just a month after her and her husband’s school was named Small Business of the Year by Senator Huff.

Senator Huff, representative of the 29th Senate District said he did not know the college was struggling financially, and has announced that he will return the donation made by Zhang.

“I had the privilege of touring the facility last fall and I was very impressed with the school and their involvement in the community,” said Huff in a statement before the college shut down.

“With President Ed Kuckelkorn at the helm of the Montecito Fine Arts divisions, it is no surprise that the business has blossomed into the success it is today.”

However, the school’s financial situation left many employees short of pay, and students abandoned.
The California State Labor Commissioner has already awarded former employees of the school thousands of dollars of unpaid wages which had been filed at the Department of Industrial Relations.

Montecito Fine Arts College of Design was founded in 1977 as an atelier by Kuckelkorn, a studio providing fine art classes to local artists. The school later expanded to several other locations in the San Gabriel Valley, broadening into other professional areas of design.

Nearly 1,000 students were enrolled at the College’s three schools, where over 100 faculty and staff were employed.

August 13, 2009

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