Mark Bucher Orange County

Who is Mark Bucher, Orange County / OUSD political influencer?

Mark William Bucher has channeled considerable donations to influence the Orange Unified School District Board of Trustees elections. This article provides basic information on who he is and what he seeks to accomplish notably conservative, openly anti-union goals.

Basic Information about Mark Bucher

  • Born in 1959
  • Significant indirect political donor to OUSD politics
  • Affiliated with Service First, a contractor for plumbing and other services
  • President of California Policy Center, a conservative political non-profit organization
  • Licensed Attorney

Is Mark Bucher the largest political donor in OUSD politics?

At least as far as the No on Recall 2024 donors are concerned, Mr. Bucher is affiliated with all three of the largest donors to No on Recall as follows:

  • “Service First Inc” donated $15,500, which has involved Mr. Bucher for decades
  • The Family Action PAC” donated $15,500, which lists Mr. Bucher as a Member of its Board of Directors
  • “Lincoln Club of Orange County State PAC” donated $40,500, which boasts that “Mark Bucher” is a “board member”

What is the connection between Mark Bucher and Service First?

Mark Bucher is a licensed electrician. His license is listed as the Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) of “Service First,” which is licensed for numerous trades including plumbing, electrical, swimming pools, and general contracting. The Contractor’s State License Board reports that he has been a contractor associated with “Service First” since 1989.

Although the name “Service First Inc” is shown on campaign disclosure documents, the California Secretary of State shows no such entity, instead showing the name “Service First” without “Inc.” Formed by Mark Bucher in 1986 as Heritage First, Mark Bucher signed his name as “President” when he changed the name to Service First in 1991.

As of 2023, Mr. Bucher was listed as “Secretary” of Service First according to the California Secretary of State filings.

Is Mark Bucher also an attorney?

Yes, Mr. Bucher has been an active member of the State Bar of California since 2000, which reports that he is an Attorney with “Law Office of Mark W Bucher, 18002 Irvine Blvd Ste 108, Tustin, CA 92780-3321, Phone: 714-573-2201.”

However, his State Bar profile shows an email at the domain “,” which describes that “Bucher & Palmer, LLP, specializes in corporate business representation and litigation, labor law, and election law at the local and state level.”

The State Bar reports that Mr. Bucher is a graduate of “Western State Univ COL; Fullerton CA.”

His LinkedIn profile reports that he attended Western State College of Law from “1996 – 2000.” Since full-time law school is 3 years, this would imply that he attended law school part-time, presumably while also working. The profile lists him as an “Owner” of Bucher & Palmer, LLP.

Does Mark Bucher practice law?

It is difficult to determine how active an attorney is in practicing law unless they produce public documents in doing so. The most common public document would be a lawsuit. Below is a list of every lawsuit on the Orange County Superior Court website for the search Mark Bucher, including both the roles as an attorney and a party. This seems to show that Mr. Bucher is not very active in the practice of law.

What is the connection between Mark Bucher and OCCA (Orange County Classical Academy)?

Mark Bucher is hardly bashful about his conservative, anti-teachers’ union views in his biography on the Orange County Classical Academy website, which provides as follows:

Mark Bucher has been active in education reform since working on proposition 174 school choice campaign in 1993. In 1998, he authored, qualified, and chaired proposition 226, which would have required government unions – including teachers’ unions – to receive permission to use their members’ dues for political purposes. He also played key roles in two other initiatives, proposition 75 in 2005 and proposition 32 in 2010, with the same purpose. He is the co-founder of the California policy center, a nonprofit organization that works for education reform, especially in low-income and minority communities.

Mark has also been active in the California charter school movement. He led the effort over the last four election cycles to elect a 5-0 majority of pro-charter candidates to the orange county board of education. These pro-charter majorities have overseen a 300% expansion of charter schools in orange county.

In 2020, mark and his wife Bronwyn co-founded the orange county classical academy, a classical education charter school in orange affiliated with Hillsdale college. In operation for only three years, OCCA was recently named a California distinguished school due to the extraordinary test scores of its students.

Mark obtained his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Biola university, and his juris doctorate from western state university, where he graduated summa cum laude, first in his class, and with the additional honor of valedictorian. He has business interests in software, real estate, property maintenance and human resources.

OCCA Board of Directors website

Does Mark Bucher live in Orange Unified School District?

Mr. Bucher does not appear to live in OUSD, with all evidence suggesting that he lives in North Tustin.

Indeed, Bucher’s most expensive real estate holding is located in Lemon Heights, North Tustin- a single-family residence located on 1.5 acres. Logic would suggest that his most expensive holding is not a rental but is instead owner-occupied by Mr. Bucher.

In fact, on October 21, 2021, Mr. Bucher recorded a series of documents in the Official Records of Orange County, making clear that the above-described 1.5-acre residence in Lemon Heights, North Tustin, commonly referred to as “Santa Ana,” is where his mail should be sent, which is most commonly used to show where an individual lives or regularly receives mail.

Confirming this theory, Corporation Wiki lists several known addresses for Mr. Bucher, none of which are in the Orange Unified School District, which matches the research of OUSD Facts.

Although public records show that Mark Bucher has owned a single-family residence near Chapman and Prospect in Orange since 1999, it would seem that this is not owner-occupied based on the value and lack of public records suggesting that he lives there.

While it is tough to answer without direct personal knowledge of where Mr. Bucher sleeps at night, it seems likely that he is a resident of North Tustin- several miles outside the boundaries of the Orange Unified School District.

What is the California Policy Center?

Formed in 2010 as the “California Public Policy Center,” Mr. Bucher changed the name in 2015 to the “California Policy Center.”

The 2010 formation documents show that its purpose related to “unions” as follows:

The specific purpose of this corporation is to promote the gathering of reliable and accurate information about the impact unions have on the local, state and national level, to inform the public about such impact, and to carry on other charitable and educational activities associated with this goal, as allowed by law.

The document shows that the entity is a 501(c)(3) that exists for “charitable and educational purposes” such that “No substantial part of the activities of this corporation shall consist of carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate or intervene in any political campaign (including the publishing or distribution of statements) on behalf of any candidate for public office.”

In 2022, the officers on the Statement of Information filed with the California Secretary of State for California Policy Center were listed as:

  • Mark W. Bucher of Tustin
  • John Kruger of Huntington Beach
  • Robert W. Lowen of Laguna Beach

ProPublica reports that the entity had revenue of $1.58M with net income of -$240,439 in 2022. This revenue was down from $3,268,638 just one year earlier in 2021. The site shows compensation to Mark Bucher of $0.

The tax return on ProPublica for the California Policy Center disclosed its business transactions involving interested persons as “Rent – Service First” to Mark Bucher as “50% Owner.”

SourceWatch has written considerable information about the California Policy Center.

Mark Bucher on the issues

Mark Bucher has found himself in numerous, heated political disputes in OUSD, including:

Was Mark Bucher the largest donor to OUSD Trustee John Ortega in 2020?

Yes. The single largest donation to “Ortega for School Board 2020” was Mark Bucher, who listed his title as “Exec Service First.” This is shown below from the financial disclosure form submitted by Ortega for School Board 2020.