Ignored by the mainstream media this Wednesday, the Fair Political Practices Commission complaint filed against "Valley Democrats for Change" by attorney, Nicole Kuklok-Waldman, is heating up the race in the 40th Assembly District. It entered cyberspace Thursday through the subscription-only website, Capital Morning Report.
What it appears to be, said an employee at the Secretary of State's office, is another committee set up to circumvent California's legal contribution limits.
Background. California law sets a contribution limit for state candidates for the legislature at $3600 per person. A candidate can use an unlimited amount of his or her PERSONAL funds. But, a relative cannot. Which brings us to the present situation. What's a father to do???
Michael Blumenfield, the retired psychiatrist from Scarsdale, N.Y., who moved out to California to live across the street from his son, had already given the $3600 limit last year. So, legally, he could give no more.
Loophole. California has this nifty little device to get around those pesky "limits." It's called the "independent expenditure committee" with the operative word being INDEPENDENT. The deal is that someone can form this sort of committee and spend ALL they want. They just can't coordinate with anyone in the campaign.
It seems that father Michael got together with his son's present employer, Congressman Howard Berman, and opened up shop with this type of committee. The $50K seed money from him landed in the account on March 25th, just before the California Democratic State Convention, where son, Bob, would lose the party endorsement and make this committee all the more important.
Then a $5K chunk from Michael MacLeod, the Chairman of Public Interest Data in Washington DC rolled in on April 1st. This Michael chipped in another $5K May 8th. Is he a relative? From his website, we find he has a history as a fundraiser. From Newsmeat, we learn that he's a contributor to the DCCC, Harry Reid, Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton. But what IS his connection to this far away California Assembly candidate? Inquiring minds want to know.
Then more money from dad…another $50K…another $20K. That would be $116,400 OVER what is allowed by law. But, oh yes, this is an "independent" expenditure!!! So, it gets to slip by the pathetically weak campaign finance rules.
The most surprising entry, however, has to be that MEGA contribution from Bob's employer, Congressman Howard Berman. It could be said that Howard has raised a ton of money this year for his non-campaign....no opponents in the primary…not even one Republican willing to run against him in the general. All alone with his $914,233 and no campaign of his own. Don't you just WONDER why he's collecting all that?
Well, wonder no more. There is the "independent expenditure" committee to funnel in a cool $100K. Bob is, after all, his own chief-of-staff. Well, officially "on leave" for now. But, what if Bob could get a seat in the Assembly and BE THERE when the reapportionment comes up after the next census? Wouldn't that just be peachy keen!!!
Of course, we have to really IMAGINE that there is no coordination between the campaign and the father across the street and the employer of 18 years. This IS a stretch, but, hey, can we really IMAGINE THIS???
I guess the real test is when you see a television ad with footage of the family…the little daughter…the lovely wife…the CAMPAIGN LOGO…and three endorsements. And then there is the e-mail from the campaign:
Voters are calling us about a fun, new ad that began airing recently. Since the ad wasn't produced by us, we do not know when it airs. Supporters found it on YouTube.
Does this strain credibility or what? Get real.
I guess the FPPC may have to take a look at this now that the complaint was filed. And who was it that filed it??? Nicole Kuklok-Waldman, wife of Stuart Waldman, one of the opponents in this mid-San Fernando Valley race. Handy to have an attorney in the family.
But, do we have the pot calling the kettle black???
Seems Stuart has his own little "Independent Expenditure" committee cranking out the bucks for him too. This one is called the "CA Alliance for Progress and Education" (one wonders what KIND of education they had in mind when naming this as well as what KIND of progress). It's been around a lot longer and has more candidates in the stable. One funder for this committee is Blue Shield of California to the tune of $25K---which goes to show you where SOME of the huge profits from health insurance go. Others have included the California Dental Association and the Californians for Civil Justice Reform. Total going to Stuart??? A cool $306,979.81which he, of course, knows nothing about either. Money does make the political world go round. And this race is certainly starting to spin. Too bad the mainstream press isn't covering local politics this year.
So, fellow Californians, are we ready to get off of this squirrel cage and demand some serious reform in this system? As it's now arranged, the ethically challenged dive through these loopholes that were arranged there on purpose to fool the people into thinking that there really is some level of accountability, and there is NOT. Consider how often you have taken the time to really research where the money is coming from to buy the campaign propaganda that sells you your candidate each election. And next time the issue of public financing comes up, and it will, please make sure you aren't fooled again by the corporate interests who fund the anti- campaign.
ETHICS IN OUR CANDIDATES--EITHER THEY HAVE THEM NOW OR NOT. THEY DON'T GROW THEM ONCE IN OFFICE.
For those of you who just HAVE to check this out yourself:
Through the Secretary of State's website enter these in the cal-access search link:
Valley Democrats for Change, filer ID# 1305598
CA Alliance for Progress and Education ID#1283921
This site shows the money flowing in from Bob's employer and dad
This one shows it flowing out to the various tv commercials/media buys/envelopes and the 410 form listing the treasurers
This is the website for the treasurer, initially Beverly Palmer, and now Aimee Dudovitz. Both of them are associates. The main partner in the firm, Fredrich Woocher, is listed as the assistant treasurer.
This is the complaint filed with the FPPC. The complete filing is linked under this page.