Monday, October 20, 2014

Truth in Campaigning (c. 2014)

Update: 10/22/2014, 8:46pm

Since i posted this article, the filings at the county have been updated to remove the independent expenditures and reclassify funds as being spent directly with the campaigns.  It appears that the "Parents" PAC has been working too closely with the candidates, and has updated their filings to reflect that.  I certainly applaud the honesty, but it opens new questions.  The new form shows a combined total of  over $12,500 in expenditures for Martha McClatchie and John Swan.  This is starting to take on the air of someone with an agenda...  Updated docs are found here and here

Original Post follows:

A couple of years ago, I wrote a few pieces about the campaigning process, and why it was important for folks to understand who is funding political campaigns.  In the last election cycle, the BCS candidates tried to disguise their affiliation with BCS, which seemed disingenuous to me.

Fast forward two years, and we have the same problem all over again.  I've never been a great fan of PAC's.    (See my blog posts from October 2012 for clarification).  I find it even more troubling when groups try to dress themselves up as something they are not.

There is a new direct mail piece out in support of Martha McClatchie's candidacy for LASD Board of Trustees.  As a reminder, I met with Martha and found her willingness to cloak information from our community to be troubling.  (See Endorsements )  However, there's a new mailer out that tries to give the impression that Martha has significant support from LASD parents.  This has not been my experience, and it isn't helped by the facts underlying this mailer.

The return address on the mailer is 1787 Tribute Road, Suite K, Sacramento, CA 95815 which is the home of this political consulting company:

The mailer traces back to a PAC registered at 26625 St. Francis Road, Los Altos Hills.  A quick search of county tax records shows this address not to be located in LASD.  It turns out this is the home of David Spector- a member of the BCS legal team.

The group's campaign filings are available in Santa Clara.  A diligent community member chased these down and I am posting them here.  One might reasonably ask why I've posted them, and the answer is simple: transparency.  It is important to know whose interests someone represents.  

In the most recent filing from this group, I'd note that there a current and former BCS Board members, BCS founding families, and other vocal supporters of BCS.  There's also a community member who is actively involved in the "No on N" campaign.  Read the list, and decide for yourself.  The filing also shows that they've spent nearly $10,000 on this mailer alone.  Mind you, when I ran for the LASD Board in 2009, I spent about $3500.  They're spending nearly 3x that on a single mailer.  I would also wonder whether the filing itself even complies with the legal requirements.  On the form, it requires "Full Name, Street Address, and Zip Code of Contributor" - yet the contributors are not listed by street address- simply by city.

All I can say is, I'm glad we live in a state with aggressive campaign finance disclosure laws.

As I said in my previous post- being a BCS parent or supporter doesn't automatically disqualify someone from the LASD Board in my mind.  Technically, one might argue that these folks live within the LASD boundaries and they might even be parents.  However, they don't appear to be largely parents of children in LASD schools.  

This pattern of strong support from the BCS community further supports my concern that Martha doesn't understand the LASD community.  We expect transparency and integrity from our public officials.  In my opinion, this mailer falls well short of the mark.