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Independent groups drop $300,000 in supervisor races

Who knew so many people cared about campaign finance reports?

I already had plans to write today a campaign finance story in the wake of Friday’s reporting deadline for Contra Costa County supervisor candidates. But given the demand for immediate details, I’ve posted the story here before it shows up in tomorrow’s newspaper.

FOLLOW THE MONEY
Special interest groups and individuals have spent nearly $300,000 on campaign mailers, signs and other costs in an effort to influence the outcome of Contra Costa County’s two hotly contested supervisor races in Districts 3 and 5. Here’s a breakout of what has been spent to oppose and support each candidate:

POSITION DOLLARS SPENT
Oppose Guy Houston $163,746
Support Mary Nejedly Piepho $46,654
Support Federal Glover $33,991
Oppose Erik Nunn $29,281
Oppose Mary Nejedly Piepho $13,810
Support Guy Houston $12,500
TOTAL: $299,982

Oil refineries, business and labor groups, coupled with several impassioned individuals, have spent nearly $300,000 — largely on last-minute negative mailers — in an effort to influence Tuesday’s outcome of Contra Costa County’s two hotly contested supervisor races.

Outgoing Assemblyman Guy Houston, running to replace incumbent, one-term Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay, has been the biggest target with $163,746 spent opposing his candidacy.

Houston has come under fire from the California Association of Realtors, whose political committee spent $40,807 on negative mailers. Houston is a Realtor and a member but he angered the group when he failed to support their legislation.

The bulk of the anti-Houston money has come from a group called the East Bay Business Coalition, an umbrella organization formed expressly for the purposes of making independent campaign expenditures.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Sheriff Rupf explains reasons for anti-Piepho mailer

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf spoke with me at length via telephone late this afternoon about his decision to put $12,500 of his own money into a mailer targeting incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho. I also spoke with Piepho and asked for her response to the sheriff’s remarks. (Click here to see my earlier blog entry on the subject, which includes copies of the mailer.)

I’ve put some of this content in my column for Sunday but since there have been so many questions for Rupf about the mailer on among the comments and the election is so close, I decided to post a more lengthy version here than space will allow in the newspaper.

Rupf says he was inspired to write a big personal check on the cost of the mailer after he read the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association endorsement letter of Piepho, calling its representation of her record on public safety “180 degrees from reality.” He says the union is pandering to Piepho because it is currently in contract negotiations with the county and believes its support will translate into support at the bargaining table.

The sheriff is a vocal supporter of Piepho’s challenger, outgoing Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon.

“I feel even more strongly than the money,” Rupf said. “We are in a hole that is driven by a lack of leadership and a lack of support for public safety services … At the same time, I believe there is a concerted and calculated effort by the Piephos (Mary and her husband, Discovery Bay Community Services District member David Piepho) to blame the sheriff for a lack of staffing and service.”

Rupf’s mailer says the budget shortfall forced him to “lay off deputies while Mary Piepho gave herself a whopping 60 percent raise at the expense of your safety.”

It’s true. Piepho voted in 2006 with her colleagues for a pay raise from $59,000 to $95,000 a year.

But Rupf has not laid off any deputies. He cut 16 civilian positions this year, although he says budget shortfalls have left him with 70 vacant deputy positions over the past four budget cycles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Election chief predicts record low turnout Tuesday

Voting turnout in Tuesday’s election will reach record lows based on the anemic level of mail-in ballots returned so far, predicts Contra Costa County Registar of Voters Steve Weir.

Here’s what Weir, who is also president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, had to say in an e-mail a few minutes ago:

Lisa,

Turnout looks like it will be the lowest of any primary in the state’s history, and that’s against a very anemic decade of poor primary turnouts.

I’m still predicting a 37% for Contra Costa and a guestimate of 31% for the state.

We have received 87,666 against 231,893 issued or a return rate of 37.8%. So, I believe that we are still on track for a 50% return rate for vote-by-mail ballots. That would give us a 24% turn out.

If 25% of the remaining voters go to the polls, we’ll reach 37%. (That’s only 99 voters per poll site.)

Other registrars are indicating an even worse return rate.

So, I still expect Calif. to reach 31%, but I think my colleagues would question that fact.

Given that the June 7, 1994 Primary was 35.05%, June 2, 1998 was 42.49%, March 5, 2002 was 34.59%, and June 6, 2006 was 33.63%, one could easily argue that the turn out will be in the high 20′s.

I’m going to argue that because so many vote-by-mail ballots have been issued, and given that some members of the public vote out of a sense of patriotic duty, we’re plumbing the bottom of turnout at this election.

Steve

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary | No Comments »

Deputy Sheriffs Association blasts sheriff for mailer

The Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association blasted their boss today in a letter calling Sheriff Warren Rupf’s latest campaign mailer part of a “personal vendetta” against incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho. (Click here for the blog entry and a copy of the mailer.)

The association has endorsed Piepho, while Rupf is campaigning for her challenger, outgoing Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon.

Read on for the text of the letter dated today:

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Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Glover demands retraction and apology

Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, through an attorney, is asking challenger Erik Nunn of Oakley to “cease and desist” in the distribution of campaign mailer that contained false and misleading information about the incumbent. (Click here to see my blog entry and a copy of the mailer.)

Glover is also asking Nunn for a public apology and and retraction.

Glover, Nunn and three additional challengers (Gary Agopian, Mary Rocha and Don Parscal) are running for county supervisor in District 5 in Tuesday’s election.

Read more for the content of the letter to Nunn dated today from the Sacramento office of Mennemeier, Glassman & Stroud:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Contra Costa sheriff pens anti-Piepho mailer

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf roared into the political arena this week with a self-funded mailer targeting incumbent county Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay.

The sheriff has been a very vocal and public supporter of Piepho’s challenger, Guy Houston, a soon-to-be-termed out Assemblyman from San Ramon. Rupf and Piepho have repeatedly clashed over law enforcement issues in far eastern Contra Costa County and the two speak only by letter.

Hitting Piepho on her vote to raise her pay is a fair issue. While the dollar amount is small — a boost from $59,000 to $95,000 a year — it is symbolic at a time when the county faces financial woes.

But the sheriff’s statements on the mailer are inconsistent on several levels. And some question whether it was legal.

Rupf states in the mailer that he was forced to lay off deputies as a result of the county’s $2.5 billion budget deficit.

But in today’s Contra Costa Times, the sheriff is quoted saying that he had eliminated 16 civilian jobs but no sworn officers. Rupf did say, however, that he has left more than 70 deputy positions vacant as part of cutbacks in the past four budget cycles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Wanna a limo ride to the polls?

Here’s an interesting campaign strategy: Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover is offering free limo rides to the polls on Tuesday.

Two voters per ride minimum, presumably to cut down on the carbon footprint of the limousine.

Gee, turnout is supposed to be really low but do have to bribe people with fancy rides to get people to vote?

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Election 2008 | No Comments »

Nunn responds to mailer criticisms

Contra Costa supervisor candidate Erik Nunn has reponded via email to my blog entry earlier today criticizing a mailer he funded that targets challenger and incumbent Supervisor Federal Glover.

Here’s what Nunn had to say and I have also included at the bottom my return email:

Lisa:

As a property owner and Section 8 landlord it’s Federal Glover’s responsibility to make sure bills are paid and if his tenants move out, he should obviously be aware of that and take appropriate action, which he has failed to do over and over, for seven years.

One lien, OK, two, fine, but seven and three are outstanding. Either Federal Glover thinks he doesn’t have to follow the same rules as other Section 8 landlords or he is uninformed and doesn’t care.

It sounds like Federal Glover is blaming his Section 8 tenants, the garbage company or the U.S. Postal service for not paying his bills, and they are his bills, he owns the property.

The fact that Federal Glover was alerted to these unpaid bills as a result of a campaign mailer is actually disturbing, especially considering how important of an issue Section 8 is to East County voters.

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Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Election 2008 | No Comments »

False and misleading mailer targets Glover

An opponent-funded campaign mailer (see images below) targeting Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg contains major misstatements and false impressions.

Erik Nunn of Oakley, one of five people running June 3 for the District 5 seat on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, paid for the four-page glossy brochure.

The Contra Costa Times periodically examines campaign literature and informs voters of the facts.

Here’s a breakdown:

What it says: “Federal Glover makes thousands of dollars a month as a Section 8 landlord.”

Is it true? No.

Glover has tenants in one Oakland triplex unit who qualify for federal housing assistance. The rent on the unit is $1,600 a month. The tenants pay a portion of the monthly rent, usually between 20 to 30 percent, and the Alameda County Housing Authority uses federal funds to pay the difference.

In addition to the triplex, Glover owns three rental properties with addresses in Pittsburg, Sacramento and Elk Grove.

Read on to see the rest of the mailer and the explanations. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Election 2008 | 25 Comments »

Supervisor candidate accidently self-funds campaign

UPDATE 5:03 P.M. Deputy District Attorney Steve Bolen has determined that Contra Costa County supervisor candidate Erik Nunn is a self-funded candidate and as a result, his opponents qualify to collect $5,000 per person rather than $1,675.

Contra Costa County supervisor candidate Erik Nunn of Oakley and his relatives have contributed or loaned his campaign more than $25,000 and triggered a hike in his opponents’ contribution limits.

Incumbent Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg and challengers Gary Agopian, Mary Rocha and Don Parscal are now permitted under the county’s election law to receive up to $5,000 per person rather than $1,675 for the June 3 election.

But Nunn called it a mistake and said he has refunded the money that pushed him over the limit.

“My family did not know the rules, or how much I had already lent the campaign,” said Nunn, a chief financial office for a general contracting company. “It definitely was something that my treasurer and I missed. … I have already sent the contributions back to my family members and the correction will be made on my next campaign report.”

It may be too late for Nunn change his mind. (It is too late. See update above.)

Glover’s campaign argues that it’s unfair to allow candidates to flip-flop back and forth and put the opponents fund-raising in limbo.

“I think the Glover campaign makes a reasonable argument,” said Deputy District Attorney Steve Bolen. “ I’m going to get the supporting documents, talk to the campaigns and determine whether Nunn can reverse course.”

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Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, campaign finance, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »