Shadowy PAC Underreported Donations Promoting Mike Garcia

Categories: Politics
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What, you mean this money?
We recently wrote about how District 7 supervisor candidate Mike Garcia and his campaign consultant were befuddled by the large amounts of money spent on their behalf by a shadowy independent expenditure committee.

It turns out, however, the Golden State Leadership Fund Political Action Committee was spending more on Garcia's behalf than it initially let on. By initially underreporting its donations, however, it prevented competing candidate F.X. Crowley from receiving a chunk of public funding -- temporarily, at least.

See also: Mike Garcia Shocked by $25,000 Spent on His Behalf

Mike Garcia
The PAC -- which earlier funneled money from PG&E, an Indian tribe, and others in a vain attempt to quash the recent measure regarding Coit Tower -- initially reported in mid-September it spent $25,000 on Garcia's behalf.

On Oct. 3, however, the PAC amended that filing, noting that it actually spent $43,605 on Garcia's behalf in September (as of Oct. 6, the PAC reported spending $62,000 to push Garcia).

The initial $18,000 discrepancy is more significant than you'd think. By first reporting the lower total, the overall Garcia expenditures halted a shade short of $280,000. But the accurate, amended total pushed expenditures over this mark -- thus triggering a public financing cap benefiting Crowley.

"Our public financing credits are definitely coming to us," said Nancy Crowley, the candidate's wife and finance maven. In the days since mid-September, that threshold has been breached -- but not as soon as it should have been. "We're getting the money," she continued. "This was more of a distraction than anything else."

F.X Crowley
The situation remains a mystery for Garcia's campaign. Consultant Chris Lee said he has next to no knowledge regarding the independent expenditure committee that has spent so generously on his client's behalf. "I don't know who they are. But it's great they're supporting us."

Based on filings with the California secretary of state, it would appear the PAC is a conduit for the Building Owners and Mangers of San Francisco, which sent it $35,000 last month.

The contest in District 7 figures to be a competitive one. But following the money could lead you to tie yourself in a knot.

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Is Michael Garcia ever going to be held accountable for the Official Misconduct he committed as Ethics Chair when he revealed the content of closed session deliberations in open session before the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee in the mid 2000s?  Gavin Newsom simply promoted him to the Board of Appeals, but is that right?


I am not surprised that Golden State Leadership PAC is involved in something sketchy.  Last year, they made independent expenditures for Mayoral candidates Ed Lee, Chiu, and Ting and Measure C without having to disclose their contributions received after June 30th of that year by exploiting a loophole in state law that exempts state-level committees from standard pre-election disclosure requirements. (The SF Ethics Commission has long been aware of the loophole but done nothing to close it.  The loophole could be easily closed in San Francisco by making simple changes to SF's independent spending disclosure rules to require contribution reporting and application to ballot measures.)


In 2008, Golden State colluded with PG&E to circulate financing from PG&E and its Blank Check No on Measure H ballot measure committee to Golden State and then back to Blank Check, as a "non-monetary contribution" in the form of field operation against H, thereby obfuscating PG&E's total spending against Measure H and giving the impression that Blank Check was financially supported by interests other than just PG&E.  The scheme kept PG&E's election season spending on H below the $10 million mark and helped avoid attention regarding PG&E breaking its prior spending record against a local public power effort (2007's measures in Yolo and Sacramento counties).

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