AD16: Warring complaints on Sbranti & Glazer

Allegations of ethical and legal violations are flying hot and heavy between supporters of 16th Assembly District candidates Tim Sbranti and Steve Glazer.

Barry Fadem, a Lafayette attorney backing Glazer, filed a complaint in December with the California Fair Political Practices Commission claiming improprieties in the transfer of $30,852 from Sbranti’s 2012 Dublin mayoral campaign account to his 2014 Assembly fund, including inconsistent names and dates for donations; a discrepancy between what the two funds show was transferred; and use of a private firm as an intermediary before Sbranti’s Assembly committee was officially qualified.

The FPPC sent Sbranti a warning letter in February that closed the case but warned it could be re-opened based on new information or future conduct.

Fadem filed another FPPC complaint in mid-January claiming Sbranti had omitted certain assets, income and gifts from the economic-interests disclosure he filed as mayor. Sbranti by that month’s end filed amended disclosure forms for several past years (including 2012 and 2010) showing previously unreported items. Fadem says the new additions include travel gifts from the California Teachers Association – for which Sbranti worked until recently – that far exceeded state limits, and income Sbranti earned from the Oakland A’s while voting on issues affecting the O.co Coliseum in which they play. The FPPC has taken no action so far. (Ed.Note – see update below for Fadem’s third complaint against Sbranti.)

On Friday, a married pair of Sbranti supporters from Dublin filed identical FPPC complaints claiming Glazer – an Orinda councilman and campaign strategist whose past clients include Gov. Jerry Brown – sent out a four-page campaign mailer this week that doesn’t carry the required “paid for by” disclaimer. The complaints filed by Eileen Barr and Heinz Gewing note Glazer’s past mailers carried the disclaimer, but this one does not.

Glazer Mailer 040314_8_8-page1
(click to enlarge)

“This race is highly contested and a number of independent expenditure committees have been formed to support or oppose candidates,” each of them wrote. “The failure to indicate who paid for the attached mailer leaves the voters without critical information that would help them evaluate the message contained in the mailer.”

It’s worth noting here that the biggest independent expenditure committee in this race is trying to help Sbranti beat Glazer, funded with at least $285,000 from teachers’ and public workers’ unions.

Those unions want Glazer’s head because he worked in 2012 as a strategist for the California Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC, which backed moderate Democrats over more liberal labor-friendly ones. That rift may explain why Glazer felt he had nothing to lose by capitalizing on public outrage over last year’s BART strikes by calling for a ban on transit worker strikes. Iin fact, this latest mailer’s cover photo shows Glazer standing with arms crossed next to a BART train, with the caption “Steve Glazer stood up against the BART strike. He’ll fight for us in the State Assembly.”

Glazer on Friday noted the FPPC’s Campaign Disclosure Manual for state candidates describes this requirement for a mass mailing by a single candidate:

The name of the candidate, his or her street address, city, state, and zip code must be placed on the outside of each piece of mail in no less than 6-point type and in a color or print which contrasts with the background so that it is easily read. If a single candidate’s controlled committee is sending the mailer, the name of the committee may be placed on the outside of the mailer if the committee’s name contains the name of the candidate. A post office box may be used as the address only if the committee’s street address is on its Statement of Organization (Form 410) on file with the Secretary of State.

But an FPPC regulation says the required identification “shall be preceded by the words ‘Paid for by’” in the same size and color as the candidate’s or committee’s name and “shall be immediately adjacent to and above or immediately adjacent to and in front of the required identification.” And a 2012 FPPC worksheet on mass mailings says “the disclaimer must include, unless otherwise noted: ‘Paid for by committee name.’”

Glazer and Sbranti both are Democrats; the other candidates are Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, also a Democrat, and Republican Catharine Baker, a Dublin attorney. Incumbent Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, is term-limited out. The district’s voter registration is 39.7 percent Democrat, 32.4 percent Republican and 21.5 percent nonpartisan.

UPDATE @ 9:11 A.M. SATURDAY: Fadem actually filed a third FPPC complaint against Sbranti on March 20, accusing Sbranti of an undisclosed conflict of interests. He claimed Sbranti in October voted as a member of the Alameda County Transportation Commission to extend a contract, but did not disclose at that meeting that he had received a contribution from that contractor in June and that the contractor had hosted a fundraiser for him in May.

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.