Landlords hid big election spending | February 6, 2015 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - February 6, 2015

Landlords hid big election spending

Late contributions to PAC funneled $90K into City Council race

by Daniel DeBolt

A landlord advocacy group effectively hid from voters big expenditures in Mountain View's November City Council election, new records reveal.

This story contains 1172 words.

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Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

3 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 6, 2015 at 10:33 am

Thank you Mountain View Voice for following up on the dark money that infested our recent election.
Even if symbolic, it would be nice to see the City Council (individually or even better collectively) issue a public statement condemning both NEC and CAA by name for their actions and emphatically stating that City Council votes are not for sale.

I also hope that city council members will go out of their way to disclose any meeting or contact they might have with CAA.


3 people like this
Posted by Root them out
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Are there names associate with the California Apartment Association?
Lets start asking them a lot of questions since they are so HEAVILY funding local politics in order to serve their own needs, not the needs of the MV citizen.


3 people like this
Posted by Root them out
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Can we get some names tied to the California Apartment Association?


3 people like this
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Hmm, the way i look at it is the more money spent the better for the economy.


3 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm

If its legal the City Council should an ordinance or law to stop this unknown funding.


16 people like this
Posted by John Schaefer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm

The amount of money spent in local elections across the state is sad. Our rules are broken and we need to fix them. We cant blame groups for spending money as long as they played by the rules and kept the conversation civil. While I don't like the idea of all this money being spent, NEC or CAA, or whomever kept their stuff in Mtn View positive and it appears they played by the rules. And, did these mailers make a difference. Probably not. Ellen Kamei lost and the whole campaign was about North Bayshore and the need for housing. That issue won not glossy pieces of junk mail.

The election is over...lets put it behind us and focus on ways to address the real issues of housing and transportation AND now campaign finance.


3 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:42 pm

If its legal the City Council should pass an ordinance or law stopping the hidden campaign funding.


3 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:43 pm

If its legal the City Council should pass an ordinance or law stopping the hidden campaign funding.


3 people like this
Posted by juan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Again really sad to say. Nothing can and/or will be done to anyone. No one is responsible. No consequences to any actions and all we, the VOTERS can say is "Oh well, that's politics here in Mt. View, let's move on and let's not learn from this.
Shame on you and you know who you are.
Money talks so load here in Mt. View, that it's deafening.


3 people like this
Posted by juan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:58 pm

Again really sad to say. Nothing can and/or will be done to anyone. No one is responsible. No consequences to any actions and all we, the VOTERS can say is "Oh well, that's politics here in Mt. View, let's move on and let's not learn from this.
Shame on you and you know who you are.
Money talks so load here in Mt. View, that it's deafening.


3 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Again really sad to say. Nothing can and/or will be done to anyone. No one is responsible. No consequences to any actions and all we, the VOTERS can say is "Oh well, that's politics here in Mt. View, let's move on and let's not learn from this.
Shame on you and you know who you are.
Money talks so load here in Mt. View, that it's deafening.


3 people like this
Posted by Vince
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Unfortunately, the CAC/NEC behavior was legal and that (also unfortunately) is beyond our local control. The underlying one--rent control--is a local matter. There is an obvious need to at least consider some form of rent control, and the underhanded tactics of CAC/NEC should put a little pressure on Showalter and Rosenberg to demonstrate their independence by giving the issue serious consideration.


11 people like this
Posted by disinfectant
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Our councilmembers may have clean hands, but it was a dirty election.

If the CAA is largely funding the NEC, who exactly is funding the CAA?

The writer of the article could have found some answers here: Web Link

Prometheus ranks high, with over $90,000 to the CAA PAC in 2014. Some other big Bay Area developer names as well.

Rosenberg and Showalter really should recuse themselves from any decisions involving these companies. But that won't happen.


5 people like this
Posted by Jay Ess
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm

this is a perfect example of why we need the Clean Money Act to pass.


3 people like this
Posted by Vince
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:23 pm

The actions of CAA/NEC are unfortunately legal and that (also unfortunately) is beyond local control. The underlying issue-rent control-is within local control and obviously needs to be discussed. The underhanded support from CAA/NEC should encourage Showalter and Rosenberg to demonstrate their independence by giving the issue serious consideration.


5 people like this
Posted by joel lee
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:28 pm

They all should be recalled


4 people like this
Posted by Gene
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 6, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Why does Greg Unangst say it is a conflict of interest for the CAA to back certain candidates? A conflict of interest is where a person has multiple interests that are in conflict. Like a councilman (acting in the public interest) is voting on a project that will benefit him personally (a personal financial interest). The CAA doesn't have to act in the public interest and so there's no conflict.


3 people like this
Posted by Gene
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Feb 6, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Why does Greg Unangst say it is a conflict of interest for the CAA to back certain candidates? A conflict of interest is where a person has multiple interests that are in conflict. Like a councilman (acting in the public interest) is voting on a project that will benefit him personally (a personal financial interest). The CAA doesn't have to act in the public interest and so there's no conflict.


3 people like this
Posted by Gene
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 6, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Why does Greg Unangst say it is a conflict of interest for the CAA to back certain candidates? A conflict of interest is where a person has multiple interests that are in conflict. Like a councilman (acting in the public interest) is voting on a project that will benefit him personally (a personal financial interest). The CAA doesn't have to act in the public interest and so there's no conflict.


3 people like this
Posted by Gene
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 6, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Why does Greg Unangst say it is a conflict of interest for the CAA to back certain candidates? A conflict of interest is where a person has multiple interests that are in conflict. Like a councilman (acting in the public interest) is voting on a project that will benefit him personally (a personal financial interest). The CAA doesn't have to act in the public interest and so there's no conflict.


12 people like this
Posted by Silly Thinking
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 6, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Most of the above posters are clueless about campaign finance laws. Mtn View has a voluntary spending limit and other cities have forced legal limits. That still doesn't stop someone or group spending their own money separate from the candidate. Candidates have no control over what an individual can do on his own. These are independent expenditures. So would it make sense to pass a law to restrict a private individual from spending his own money to support a candidate. Of course not. If so anyone could spend money and claim it should count towards one of the candidates he doesn't want to win and reduce his overall spending.

I agree the spending is a large amount but it didnt influence the election and the three best candidates won .


15 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 6, 2015 at 6:55 pm

@Silly Thinking.

The issue is really the deceptive tactics used by the CAA.

Don't you think electors would have reacted differently to the mailers if they had been signed by the CAA or its members (Vote for X - mailer paid for by Prometheus PAC)?

Instead the CAA deliberately hid behind a ghost operation posing as a grass root group and made sure to disclose its contributions months later (after the elections).

CAA members do a lot of business in Mountain View. Let's make sure their dealings with the City are not as shadowy as their electoral tactics.


3 people like this
Posted by Eli
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2015 at 8:42 pm

I knew Daniel was ahead of his time, but...

"Mailers independently funded in the 2104 council race. Photo by Daniel DeBolt."


3 people like this
Posted by Silly thinking
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 6, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Deceptive? CAA followed the law. Again more silly thinking.


3 people like this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2015 at 11:20 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

Wow. This is the first time in the history of elections that money got funneled through a side group to spend money on elections.

Why isn't this a national story?


5 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 7, 2015 at 12:15 am

@Silly

Even if the FPPC -a more trusted source than online forums- finds CAA acted legally, the deception remains: CAA took part in our election under a shameful disguise. Let's remember that next time a CAA member comes before Council.







3 people like this
Posted by Maher
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:45 am

"Business as usual" i.e. we will do what we want as long as we want until we get caught and someone stops us... applies even more when it comes to business vav politics.


7 people like this
Posted by Knowing Reality
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 7, 2015 at 4:21 am

"Deceptive? CAA followed the law. Again more silly thinking."

You can be deceptive and still follow the law. The landlord group wanted to deceive voters by hiding the source of the money so they used the law to assist in this deception.

The deception was in hiding the source of the money. Legality has zero to do with that part. Know that as a logical reality and you won't appear so silly when you try and prove to everyone how much you know.


4 people like this
Posted by Knowing Reality
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 7, 2015 at 4:35 am

@ Silly Thinking, more on your statement:
"Deceptive? CAA followed the law. Again more silly thinking."

Another example to see that deception and legality are not connected would be to ask:
If a man told his wife in Vegas that he was going gambling while she was at the day spa, then went to one of the legal brothels outside town instead, would that be deceptive? No laws were broken at all, but of course you can see the deception now. Same thing with CAA's deception. Legal and deceptive.


3 people like this
Posted by Silly Thinking
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 7, 2015 at 5:57 am

Again more silly thinking . Where is the deception. They filed all of the necessary papers and told you who they were. The head of the group has been identified. Also this is not the first time independent expenditures have been present at an election. It's the amount that seems excessive.


4 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 7, 2015 at 7:21 am

@Silly

Did CAA put their name on the mailers? no. CAA purposely deceived the Mountain View community.

The fact that their identity became known after the election, doesn't retroactively erase the deception....it only belatedly unmasks it.

Agreed. CAA's contribution amount seems excessive. In fact it's so large that it could very well pay for online apologists.


12 people like this
Posted by OK, spelling it out
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:55 am

Not Deceptive: "This add funded by CAA"

Deceptive: "This add funded by CAA but we're not going to use our real name, we'll figure out some way around that so you can't directly tell who funded the ads."

Continued denial if deception i this manner is akin to continued denial of a moon on the night of a full moon. Be better than that.


5 people like this
Posted by Silly thinking
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:28 pm

There is nothing deceptive about a group soliciting funds from another group with a different name. As the article states, CAA donated money to a group they had no control over. They listed themselves as a donor as late as possible. They are not the first group to do this. Public unions have done this in the past with MV council members . Whats different this time is the enormous amount of money spent .


11 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:11 pm

@Silly

No matter how much lipstick or spin you put on it, CAA deliberately deceived the Mountain View voters.

Sure hope that CAA is paying over time to its online apologists ...


16 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:25 pm

"I agree the spending is a large amount but it didnt influence the election and the three best candidates won."

The later part of that sentence is, itself, silly thinking because unlike the first part (though like a great many other Town Square comments), it expresses a wishful personal opinion rather than facts in evidence.

The only way to know logically, rationally, if the spending "didn't influence the election" and "the best candidates won" would be if the spending hadn't occurred. Its existence precludes those conclusions. Next question please?


6 people like this
Posted by Silly Thinkink
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 8, 2015 at 7:03 am

"No matter how much lipstick or spin you put on it, CAA deliberately deceived the Mountain View voters."


Again there is no evidence to support this statement since we know they filed papers tellng us who they are. I have yet to hear anyone on this blog say the spending affected their vote .


11 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 8, 2015 at 8:14 am

@Silly

Did CAA sign their mailers? No. Did they come forward when this was brought up in this paper during the election? No. Is CAA so naive as not to know that NEC is (was?) a shady fly-by-night electoral money laundering operation? Of course not, CAA has an army of lobbyists and knew full well what it was paying for .... deception.

Why apologize for CAA deliberately deceiving the Mountain View voters? It's very unfair .... CAA worked so hard for a spot on the Mountain View Elections' Walk of Shame.


7 people like this
Posted by Silly Thinking
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 8, 2015 at 10:01 am

Again , where is the deception. CAA donated money to a group it had no control over. That's what's stated in the article. They filed the appropriate notice. They didn't sign the flier because they didn't distribute it. This has been common practice in past elections where there have been independent elections. As also stated In The article, NEC received funds from several different sources. It is Mr DeBolt who is making a stretched inference since CAA is a group of landlords, some of whom own Mtn View properties. CAA represents more than just Mtn view landlords.

In the end. There is no evidence these fliers had any impact on the election, other than signaling that someone spent a lot of money to say these are the best candidates.


10 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 8, 2015 at 10:18 am

@Silly

In your zeal to apologize for CAA's deception (I hope they pay you well), you seem to be quite insulting to their intelligence. Would a well-oiled lobbying machine like the CAA would naively give money to an opaque electoral PAC like NEC without knowing where it went? Really?

Again, CAA got exactly what it paid for .... deception.


3 people like this
Posted by Silly thinking
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 8, 2015 at 10:57 pm

@srb
Again you provide no evidence of deception and no evidence this had any effect on the election

Maybe you are afraid to admit ypu were deceived and fell for the ads


7 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 9, 2015 at 6:10 am

@Silly

I actually feel bad for CAA and yourself as an (hopefully paid) apologist.

When CAA spent an excessive (your words) amount of money to deceive Mountain View voters, CAA thought it bought NEC's deluxe electoral deception package: untraceable, under the radar, no mention of CAA in the press..... All that sunshine was clearly not part of the contract and I understand the buyer's remorse.

Maybe time to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau against NEC's ... deceptive advertising ?


3 people like this
Posted by Silly thinking
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 9, 2015 at 7:38 am

@srb
Again you provide no evidence of deception and no evidence this had any effect on the election

Maybe you are afraid to admit ypu were deceived and fell for the ads?

Your accusations are innaccurate .


9 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 9, 2015 at 8:16 am

@silly

Again, if the CAA feels it didn't buy enough deception for you to see...they should file a complain with the Better Business Bureau. Such a shame, spending so much money and not getting enough sunshine protection...

BTW: there is an easy way for the CAA to dispell any appearance of deception. They could come clean and share what their contribution to NEC was for. The "I don't recall" or "We have no control" statements are simply not believable from a lobbying machine like CAA.


5 people like this
Posted by disinfectant
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 9, 2015 at 4:31 pm

The people who pulled this off need to be named. Who were the "principal officers and/or consultants" for the NEC? Exactly who at the CAA gave the order to direct the money the the NEC, and why? Who are the consultants who produced the NEC candidates' campaign materials?

I hope Daniel DeBolt will dig deeper.

Some important facts were left out of this article: the specific amounts of NEC and other outside funds that were spent for Rosenberg, Showalter, Kamei, and Gary Kremen; the extent of Prometheus and Archstone's involvement; the extremely negative NEC ad targeting Brian Schmidt; and the agreed-upon spending limit of $22,689 for council candidates, made meaningless by the relatively massive of outside funding for the NEC's candidates.

A Voice article by DeBolt from November 4 covered some of these subjects: Web Link.


3 people like this
Posted by Silly Thiking
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 9, 2015 at 4:57 pm

@SRB
"They could come clean and share what their contribution to NEC was for."

They did this w their filing. It appears that you are the only person who was deceived. Shame on you for being so naive. Nobody else was deceived.


10 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 9, 2015 at 5:37 pm

@silly

Every elector who received these mailers had no idea who was really behind them. Whoever paid for the mailers and hid their identity until after the election deceived the voters, plain and simple.

Now thanks to the late sunshine, we know that more than likely CAA was behind that act of deception. Instead of coming clean (did they pay for the mailers or not), CAA's claims that they "have no control" over their contributions. These claims are completely bogus and I'm sure you know that ...you're most likely just paid to pretend otherwise.

Would people have voted differently if they had known who was behind the mailers?Would a statement like "Prometheus wants you to vote for X" have helped or harmed candidate X? I don't know but I'm sure big money lobbyists like the CAA knew the answer and acted accordingly.


6 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2015 at 10:35 pm

CAA knows full well that if it places it's name on mailers in Mountain View, voters will do the opposite of what the landlord group recommends. Sounds like they used a front group to avoid this.

Rent control remains wildly popular. That's why landlords have to resort to these kinds of tactics to defeat it.


3 people like this
Posted by Silly Thinking
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 10, 2015 at 9:28 am

@ SRB and Dean

Pure speculation. The fliers were clearly labeled. It is pure speculation that CAA knew exactly how their donations would be spent, and like the council candidates , they had no control over the content . Politically parties and public unions do the same thing. CAA and Prometheus also have made direct contributions to political candidiates in the past.

Let's face it, you were deceived and you are upset, but it's your own silliness that deceived you


5 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 10, 2015 at 10:08 am

@silly

You have a point.... it's possible CAA's contributions went to pay for the disgusting toilet attacks ads in the Water District Race.

After all they paid NEC but "had no control"...


3 people like this
Posted by Vince
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 10, 2015 at 2:38 pm

The actions of CAA/NEC are unfortunately legal and that (also unfortunately) is beyond local control. The underlying issue--rent control--is within local control and obviously needs to be discussed. The underhanded support from CAA/NEC should encourage Showalter and Rosenberg to demonstrate their independence by giving the issue serious consideration.


6 people like this
Posted by disinfectant
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2015 at 3:22 pm

I'm sure that rent control, or opposition to it, was a reason for CAA's sleazy routing of money. That could explain why Lenny Siegel didn't receive their support - although he apparently thinks that rent control is not politically feasible, he has advocated for it in years past.

But then, there is also the proposed 5,000 new units of housing in North Bayshore. That's approximately the equivalent of 25 of Prometheus' Madera complexes - a real gold mine for developers. Here too, Rosenberg and Showalter looked like an excellent place to invest some money.


3 people like this
Posted by JeSuisCharlie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Rent control destroys the property base of cities. I applaud responsible citizens' efforts to negate the stupidity of economically ignorant fools trying to impose rent control. It's truly a shame that self-proclaimed "professional Socialist agitator" Lenny Siegel was elected. We'll be stuck with his idiocy for 8 long years. Ellen Kamei was a far better and moderate candidate, and we soon will regret that she was not elected instead.


3 people like this
Posted by RayVasri
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 29, 2015 at 5:35 am

Great article. Thanks for the info, you made it easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a fppc form 410, I found a blank fillable form here Web Link. This site PDFfiller also has some tutorials on how to fill it out and a few related documents that you might find useful.


5 people like this
Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 29, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

disinfectant: If they were trying to support candidates who wanted housing in North Bayshore, then spending $7,000 on Ellen Kamei was a mistake. She was against it.

fwiw, I was fairly happy with the outcome of the election and still am. I believe Showalter and Rosenberg when they say they weren't involved. I'm still disturbed that landlords were hiding their involvement in these campaign materials.


6 people like this
Posted by Council watcher
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 30, 2015 at 11:14 pm

@Scott Lamb:

It’s an undisputed fact that “landlords” (i.e., large developers like Prometheus) pumped about $114,000 into the last city council election, on behalf of Rosenberg, Showalter, and Kamei.

All the council candidates had agreed to a “voluntary spending limit” of $22,689 each. This flood of developer money made “voluntary limits” a pathetic, obsolete idea. It was legal, but absolutely disgusting, and it corrupted the election.

I don’t doubt that Rosenberg, Showalter, and Kamei were kept out of the loop. That’s how you do it, right?

But you have to ask yourself, WHY was this money poured in to elect these candidates? What did the developers think their money was buying?

Was it opposition to rent control? Maybe, partially. Note that they didn’t spend money on Lenny Siegel, who has a past history of advocating for rent control.

Was it to get permission to develop North Bayshore? Maybe, partially. You pointed out that Kamei opposed housing in North Bayshore. True - however, Kamei’s record on the EPC was generally one of deference to big money. She would have been developer-friendly in other ways.

I think the developers thought they were installing pliant new council members who would generally favor high-density development, and who would show proper respect for big money. So far Rosenberg and Showalter have performed as expected, on the issues of housing in North Bayshore, and in doing that notorious about-face regarding closing lanes on El Camino for BRT (part of the ECR “Grand Boulevard Initiative”).

If you think a high-density future is best for Mountain View, I think you will be happy with these new council members.


3 people like this
Posted by Landlords also backed McAlister and Clark
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 25, 2016 at 9:08 am

Landlords have always supported Mike Kasperzak and in 2012 also helped Chris Clark and John McAlister get elected. Good investments.


4 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 25, 2016 at 9:15 am

In 2012, landlords helped John McAlister, Chris Clark and Michael Kasperzak get elected to the city council. Smart investments.


4 people like this
Posted by Agreed
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 25, 2016 at 10:04 am

Yes, very good investment and good for them, protecting their risk and investment properties from being unfairly limited by people who want to live somewhere they can't afford. And hopefully they step it up and continue to back anti-rent control initiatives.

Good for City to stand up to this ridiculous rent control attempt as well.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.