May 26, 2012

Independent Expenditures Seek to Influence 18th Assembly District Race

Mailer sent by California Alliance in 18th Assembly District campaign

An independent expenditure committee called California Alliance is trying to influence voters with three recent campaign mailers attacking Joel Young in the race for California's 18th Assembly District . Although there are officially four candidates, the race is widely seen to be between the three Democratic candidates, AC Transit Director Joel Young, Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta, and Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen, since registered Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans in the 18th Assembly District.

The first mailer highlights Young's trouble with an ex-girlfriend and an aide for Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. The mailer states, “Joel Young. 2 restraining orders. In just the last year.” which implies that two restraining orders have been granted against Young. The truth is that although two restraining orders were filed against Young, neither was granted. One involved an incident in which Young's ex-girlfriend found him in bed with another woman and the other involved Kaplan's aide. Young subsequently filed a restraining order against his ex-girlfriend, which was not granted.

The second mailer repeats the phrase "unfit for office," which was used by the East Bay Express to describe Young and why it did not endorse him for office. The third mailer focuses on whether Young is telling the truth about who has endorsed his campaign.

These mailers may be based, at least in part, on a recent poll that asked voters whether they would support a candidate who had a restraining order.

According to campaign finance records, California Alliance, officially known as “California Alliance, a coalition of consumer attorneys and conservationists,” has spent more than $31,000 so far to oppose Young. During this campaign cycle, the group has yet to support or oppose any other candidates, but has been active in recent local California Senate and Assembly races.

During the 2006 campaign for California 10th Senate District seat, California Alliance spent $26,433 to support former San Leandro Mayor Ellen Corbett and $372,544 to oppose John Dutra, one of her opponents in the Democratic primary. Corbett went on to win the Democratic primary over Dutra and Johan Klehs.

More recently, California Alliance spent $111,428 to support Bob Weickowski and $63,086 to oppose Garrett Yee during the 2010 campaign for the California Assembly's 20th District. Weickowski is currently running for re-election to the new 25th Assembly District against weak opponents.

In both of the previous races, California Alliance only spent money prior to the June primary. However, with a new primary election system in California where the top two vote-getters in the June primary will compete against each other in November, the group may be spending money to support or oppose candidates after the primary this year.

The California Alliance is known as an independent expenditure committee. As such, it is not controlled by a candidate or a candidate's committee, but these groups have had huge impacts on the races in which they get involved.

Since 2009, the largest donors to the California Alliance are consumer attorney groups ($1.05 million), public employee unions ($400,000), California Nurses Association ($250,000), and California League of Conservation Voters ($190,500). This provides the biggest clue as to whom California Alliance might actually support. Many of the funders of California Alliance show up in donations to Bonta and Guillen.

The Consumer Attorneys PAC has contributed $3,900 to Guillen and the California Nurses Association contributed $7,800 to Guillen. According to his campaign endorsement page, Guillen is endorsed by the California Nurses Association, California League of Conservation Voters, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, AFSCME District Council 57, and Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.

The California League of Conservation Voters and AFSCME District Council 57 have also endorsed Bonta and neither have endorsed Young. The Consumer Attorneys PAC has contributed $3,900 to Bonta. Public employee unions have also made significant contributions to Bonta's campaign, including Alameda Firefighters ($7,800), California Professional Firefighters ($7,800), Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs ($1,500), Firefighters Local 55 ($3,900), Oakland Police Officers Association ($3,900), CSEA ($1,000), San Francisco Firefighters ($5,900), and the San Leandro Police Officers Association ($500).

Updated May 29: Added information about relevant organizations that have also endorsed or contributed to Bonta.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at May 26, 2012 8:57 AM | TrackBack
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