Thursday, October 11, 2012

Campaign Funding - A Little Sunshine

This weekend I was watching the football game with my daughters when there was an ad on against Prop 37 (the food labelling measure).  One of my daughters asked me about the notice at the end of the ad, which caused us to launch into a discussion about campaign finance.  Using Tivo to pause the ad, we read through who had funded the ad, and talked about why they might want to fund a campaign against a ballot measure.  It is in that same spirit, then, that I looked into some campaign funding at the local level. 

Like most folks, I'm looking for a couple of key things when I read these forms:
  • Who funded the campagn?  Is it one person, or a number of donors?  A single donor isn't necessarily a bad thing- I decided not to do any active fundraising for my campaign, so I didn't have a large number of contributors.
  • What interest might those donors have in the candidate's positions.  For example, if candidates take money from a PAC, I would assume that the candidate agreed with the PAC's positions on key issues.
  • How much total funding have they raised?  Remember that this is the first filing, and the candidates can still raise and spend more money, but this is an interesting indicator.  By way of context, I spent about $3500 when I ran 3 years ago, and I believe that the other non-incumbent, Tammy Logan, spent a similar amount. 

Amanda Burke-Aaronson
Quite frankly, I'm not sure what to make of Amanda Burke-Aaronson.  Initially, I thought that she was well intentioned, but perhaps didn't understand the implications of a BCS parent on the LASD Board of Trustees.  However, I've become more concerned as the campaign progressed.  She declined to identify herself as a BCS parent at the first candidate forum.  She also dodged the question of who had funded her campaign.  Since California requires candidates to file statements about who is funding their campaigns, this is public information.  I am attaching a link to Ms. Burke-Aaronson's campaign funding statement here.

For those who may not know all of the players, I did a quick pass through the list.  It is important to note that I do not claim to be an expert in who attends BCS.  However, a quick glance is instructive.  There are current and former BCS Board members, as well as people connected to the BCS Education Foundation.  She received contributions from a large number of BCS parents, including the person who signed the ballot argument against the parcel tax measure for LASD last year.  Even my preliminary look through the list shows that at least half of her donors are affiliated with BCS. 

Along the same lines as that TV ad, I have to wonder why these BCS parents would suddenly pour $10,000 into someone's campaign funds.   I can't recall any LASD Board member who received such substantial outside funding, let alone such a concentrated amount from a group suing LASD.  I want to be clear- I still can't speak to Ms. Burke-Aaronson's motives-- but it does make me wonder what all those donors think she'll do, that they're bankrolling an election fund that is already 3x what I spent on my own campaign just 3 years ago.

Vladimir Ivanovic
Mr Ivanovic is also running, and has taken a decidedly more modest approach to his campaign.  I've seen him at a number of community events, but  he has only spent a very small amount of money as of the most recent filing deadline.  I've also attached a link to his filing.  His sole donor so far is the PTA Exec Board meber at the same LASD school where Mr. Ivanovic's children attend.  His total expenditures to date are less than $1000.

I haven't yet received the filings for the other candidates, but expect to post those shortly.  From the first candidate forum, both Steve Taglio and Pablo Luther indicated that they are primarily self-funded, which tends to make the filings less-than-riveting.

Updated: 10/11, 3pm  : Correction:  Vladimir Ivanovich's campaign donor is the PTA Communications lead for the school, not the PTA president.  My apologies for the error.