Tuesday, November 5, 2013
(The following is from Tim Risch and his wife Yolanda Risch concerning their reporting of campaign expenditures by individuals and organizations not directly controlled by the candidate. I would add that it is of great interest which organizations favor the election of a particular candidate. The 2012 Democratic National Platform advocated ending the influence of big money in politics, even if it required a constitutional amendment. - MG)
There have been suggestions that SpecialInterestWatch.org is misleading voters when we present campaign financing statistics that include both campaign contributions and independent expenditures together. We completely disagree and we want to set the record straight and explain why accounting for both candidate contributions and independent expenditures is necessary to understand the influence of money on the election process. We also have made a point to provide information our site specifically listing and distinguishing contributions, both cash and in-kind, from independent expenditures.
Over the past 10 years, independent expenditures have comprised a significant portion of money being spent on elections. Many times, the amount far exceeds what individual candidates in elections have been able to raise themselves. Per the City of Sunnyvale Campaign Ethics Guide, "Unfortunately , independent expenditures have sometimes been used for nasty hit pieces on a candidate' s opponent." In addition, there are numerous instances where independent expenditures have provided misleading or false information that can improperly influence voters.
While the rules for independent expenditures require that candidates not be involved in the actual timing, content, or details of the delivery of the campaign piece, it is not prohibited for the originators of independent expenditures to use information developed and provided by the candidate. Often, the independent expenditure will provide the same message, facts, and images used in a direct campaign piece from the candidate. Thus independent expenditures, while not controlled by the candidate, can have the same, if not greater influence on the voting public as a direct campaign piece from the candidate.
The fact that independent expenditures do not originate or are not controlled by the candidate does not absolve the candidate from taking ethical responsibility for the integrity of its message. Again, from the City of Sunnyvale Campaign Election Ethics Guide, candidates shall "...not use or permit any dishonest or unethical practice which tends to corrupt or undermine our American system of free elections... ". Furthermore, candidates "...shall immediately and publicly repudiate support deriving from any individual or group which resorts, on behalf of my candidacy or in opposition to that of my opponent, to the methods and tactics which I condemn."
Thus, independent expenditures can have the same impact, require candidates to exercise the same level of ethical oversight, and provide potentially the same conundrum with respect to perceived or actual conflict of interest as regular campaign contributions. To exclude independent expenditures from the accounting of campaign financing will not provide the public with an accurate picture of the election process.
Tim & Yolanda Risch
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Update 11/5/2013: The campaign contributions have now been broken out into independent expenditures and direct contributions to the candidate's campaign. Those making indirect expenditures in support of a candidate are legally required to disclose the candidate they are in support of and how much they spend on that candidate's behalf. A correction to Larsson's self-contribution is made. C.f. Tim Risch's analysis of independent expenditures at:
(Update 10/30/2013 - The official sources for the large ($71K) donations from the NAR are here:
It appears at this time that it was PAC money that was spent on the candidate's behalf but not donated directly to the candidates and so they don't have to report it themselves. This relates to the recent Supreme Court decision on the Citizen's United case which essentially allowed PACs to spend as much as they like. There are judges on the Supreme Court who would like to reverse that decision but as of now, it is the law of the land.
It is highly unusual for national bodies like the NAR to spend so much on a local campaign, so there is some speculation that the NAR was used as a pass-through where a local interest donated money to the PAC and expressed a desire that it aid candidates Larsson and Hendricks.
Update 10/31/2013. The NAR spokeperson said it was the local Silicon Valley branch which requested the donation - so it would appear to be one or more local donors working through the national PAC.
Frazer Details at: http://specialinterestwatch.org/Andy%20Frazer.aspx
Grand Total: $157,748.72
Largest donation/expenditure: National Association of Realtors Fund (NAR) = $70,580.00
Grand Total: $160,445.41
Largest donation/expenditure: National Association of Realtors Fund = $70,580.00
Gustavo Magaña: Total = less than $1,000
Grand Total: $70,593.11
Griffith contributor details at: http://specialinterestwatch.org/Jim%20GriffithC.aspx
The total amounts for Hendricks and Larsson set new records for Sunnyvale. Four years ago, Seat 1 incumbent Tony Spitaleri raised $117,722 (which was then the highest ever raised), Seat 2 incumbent Chris Moylan raised $41,902. Martin -Milius won with $27,666, Meyering won with $11,000, For more details, see: http://specialinterestwatch.org/Default.aspx
If this were a CA state Senate or Assembly election there would be limits to individual and PAC campaign contributions of $4,100 -see:
If this were a US Senate or House election there would be limits to individual and PAC campaign contributions of $2,600 -see:
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Did Jim Griffith violate any laws when he registered the internet names "TapMerrickForSunnyvale.com" and ".net" in apparent imitation of his political opponent's election web address TapMerrickForSunnyvale.ORG"?
Without a court conviction it would be defamation of character for me to say so but you can certainly judge for yourself in the citations below. Many, perhaps most, lay people are likely to say the law is pretty clear and that Jim Griffith quite possibly did violate the law, although only a court can decide definitively.
In the year 2000, CA. Governor Gray Davis signed into law Senate Bill 1319, California’s anticybersquatting statute. Under Chapter 4 article 3 "Deceptive Online Activities" ELECTIONS CODE
CA's business and professional codes cover cyberfraud as well:
BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS CODE SECTION 17525-17528.5
17525. (a) It is unlawful for a person, with a bad faith intent to register, traffic in, or use a domain name, that is identical or confusingly similar to the personal name of another living person or deceased personality, without regard to the goods or services of the parties.
There is also, US Federal Law, "Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999" which was discussed by the US Patent & Trade Office (USPTO) in a report to congress found here:
In the legal text book “Internet Domain Names, Trademarks and Free Speech” By Jacqueline D. Lipton (Law Professor Case Western Reserve, co-Author Law Text Book – Cyberspace Law: Cases & Materials, Third Edition) ($31.20 eBook) the issue of whether this might be constitutionally-protected free speech is addressed: 'By making it too expensive to buy all the possible domain names'…“Political Cybersquatting might ..chill protected First Amendment Speech in the absence of remedy” (Pg 218)
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Politicians always say "How dare you, Sir!" when asked about large contributions to their campaigns as if no politicians ever traded a vote for money - legal or not (c.f. US Vice-President Spiro Agnew, who made his name preaching virtue until he was caught as a premier kleptocrat).
The relevant excerpt is here (requires Microsoft's Silverlight):
If at Lawrence Station, why not Butcher's corner? Vidovich's De Anza properties also owns the Mary/Fremont plaza. If he can build a large apt. complex at Butcher's corner, why not at Mary/Fremont?
|Vidovich Mary/Fremont Plaza now|
|Same place with 10-story apt. building|
Griffith has loaned himself $37,715 for his campaign. See:
It is perfectly legal to receive contributions after the election from anyone - including developers - often at "pay off the debt" parties. If Griffith wins, Vidovich or anyone else can legally pay all or part of that debt. Vidovich has a history of contributing (sometimes illegally) to politicians to get zoning he wants. See article here:
Wiht large developer contributions, Griffith, Hendricks, & Larsson can afford multiple mailers thanks to Vidovich and other developers - people like Frazer can't. See the campaign chests here:
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
This is a summary of candidates forum for Seat 2: Glenn Hendricks, Steve Hoffman, and Gustavo Magana (34 minute mark)
See also seat 1 (Frazer vs Larsson) here:
This is part 2 for seat 2 in the Sunnyvale City Council Election covering the 2nd 50 minutes of the 120 minute video. I made editorial decisions to select some parts and leave out others for the sake of readability.
See also Seat 1, Frazer vs. Larsson here:
and Seat 2, Hendricks, Hoffman, and Magana