Happy Birthday, Sandre Swanson

Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, will turn 60 this Friday, and how better to celebrate this momentous birthday than with… a fundraiser.

Yes, Swanson’s holding a black-tie cash bash Saturday night at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant in Oakland’s Jack London Square; it’s $100 a head, or from $1,000 to $3,900 for various levels of table sponsorship. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, for whom Swanson used to be chief of staff; Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles; and Assemblywoman and state Senator-elect Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, will be there.

The invitation bills the event — “Bring your dancing shoes!” — as a birthday and re-election victory celebration. Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with celebrating re-election, but keep in mind that Swanson won this month with almost 88 percent of the vote to Republican Jim Faison‘s 12 percent — little wonder, considering his 16th Assembly District is registered about 65 percent Democrat to about 8 percent Republican. Neither did much strenuous campaigning, yet Swanson appears to have raised at least about $421,000 and spent at least about $395,000 in the 2007-08 election cycle.

The biggest single chunk of that spending went to… raising more money! His campaign spent $145,280.80 on fundraising events. Another $62,075 went to campaign consultants (the biggest chunk of which, $37,000, went to Carol Jones, who is both his district director and his campaign events director/staff contact.)

His campaign finance records also indicate where he likes to eat: 21 “meetings and appearances” tabs totalling $931.55 at the Angel Fish sushi restaurant near Swanson’s home on Alameda’s Bay Farm Island; 20 totalling $1,319.13 at P.F. Chang’s; 17 totalling $783.12 at Nellie’s Soul Food; 8 totalling $729.20 at Scott’s; eight totalling $525.45 at the Fat Lady near Oakland’s Jack London Square; six totalling $367.13 at McCormick and Schmick; 14 totalling $258.98 at the Buckhorn Restaurant; six totalling $852.17 at Kincaid’s in Jack London Square; one for $352.66 at Joe’s Seafood and Stone Crabs; five totalling $301.38 at Zocalo in Sacramento; six totalling $286.45 at Aioli Restaurant (not sure where this is); two totalling $275.61 at Oakland’s Le Cheval; eight totalling $273 at the Harbor View Restaurant, also on Bay Farm Island; three totalling $273 at Yoshi’s near Jack London Square; one at Sushi Roku for $130.60; one at Morton’s steakhouse for $180.26; and one at San Francisco’s Waterfront Restaurant for $116.57. If you’re counting, that’s 128 tabs totalling $7,956.26. Yum!

But he also gave $30,415 to the California Democratic Party, and $26,150 to other local Democratic campaigns and committees. And as we all know, throwing money to the party is an important way in which lawmakers build their clout.

So if you’re going to Swanson’s birthday/re-election bash Saturday, feel certain your money is helping not only Swanson but lots of other Democrats. And campaign fundraisers and consultants. And restaurants.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.