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Irvine city council candidate drops off 86-year-old mother to panhandle at UTC and Laguna Beach

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Irvine city council candidate David Chey was caught on camera leaving his elderly disabled mother on a city sidewalk in Laguna Beach to panhandle and beg for money earlier this week, according to CBS Los Angeles. UCI students also reported spotting his mother begging for money at University Town Center (UTC) this past Tuesday night, Oct. 30.

The Irvine City Council candidate’s mother, Soon Chey, is 86 years old, and is reportedly driven to Laguna Beach several nights a week to collect money from strangers. Residents there see her on Forest Avenue in a wheelchair with a sign asking for help.

Soon Chey has also been seen at UTC. A video of David Chey picking her up at 2 a.m. in 2012 was posted on YouTube, although at the time it was not known that it was him. UCI students saw Soon Chey parked on her wheelchair between Mendocino Farms and Eureka! this past Tuesday.

Leo Peng, a second year Computer Science student at UCI, was getting dinner with his friends when they noticed an old lady in a wheelchair begging for money. He recognized her from the video he saw months ago with her and her son. Only after reading an article reporting the panhandling occuring in Laguna Beach the next day did he realize the man in the video was a candidate running for city council panhandling not only in Irvine, but also Laguna Beach.

“I was shocked to learn that the old lady I saw in the video and a few nights ago was the mother of a candidate running for city council in Irvine,” said Peng. “I don’t think someone who makes his mother sit out in the cold for money should be running for city council. Representatives should have better values than that. I’m unsure if he will be able to gain any support from voters if they find out he did this.”


Heidi Miller, who has been in business in Laguna for nearly 40 years, made a sign and has been putting it next to Soon Chey in response to her panhandling, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Miller said to CBS that she’s seen Chey being dropped off by her son in a brand new car and is questioning if any of the money is being used to fund David Chey’s campaign.

“City council, you need to be compassionate, understanding, follow the laws. All those types of things,” said Miller. “And you look at this scenario going on for 10, 12 years. Is he doing that? I don’t think so.”

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Laguna Beach police say that what David Chey and his mother are doing is not illegal. They have also told CBS Los Angeles his mother is well cared for, and that when officers ask her about the situation, she says she wants to panhandle.