FPPC Investigation: Shining Light on Dark Money
By Robert Haugh
Readers of this site may recall that we broke the story that BLUPAC had received the largest fine in Santa Clara city history for failing to correctly report their expenditures in the 2016 Santa Clara city council, city clerk, and police chief elections. City Clerk Rod Diridon, Jr. issued the fine on February 17, 2017. BLUPAC paid $8,380 at the end of March.
Kudos also to the FPPC for taking seriously the issue of dark money in local politics. They made a major splash by prosecuting over dark money expenditures in a 2012 statewide campaign. That led to a state law that requires nonprofits that spend more than $50,000 on political campaign expenditures to disclose their donors.
This would be the FPPC’s first local dark money campaign prosecution and a sign that they take the law seriously for all levels of government not just statewide races. They brag about taking the issue seriously in their 2015 annual report:
Chair (Jodi) Remke successfully led the effort to enact tougher rules for independent expenditure committees and candidates, creating some of the toughest rules in the country on coordination. The FPPC also improved disclosure of large campaign contributors and closed potential loopholes on reporting requirements for multipurpose organizations, making California one of the leaders in the fight to stop what’s been called “dark money” in campaigns.
We hope an investigation will answer some the questions floating around town:
- Were the 49ers behind the creation of BLUPAC?
- Did the team contribute to BLUPAC?
- Is BLUPAC planning to spend money on races in 2018 like the Santa Clara Mayoral election or a County Supervisorial election?
- Did former 49er political consultant Rich Robinson get paid by BLUPAC for legal work, as he told the Mercury News, and not declare it?
- Do the candidates supported by BLUPAC (Patty Mahan, John McLemore, Mohammed Nadeem, Ahmad Rafah, Rod Diridon, Jr., Mike Sellers) know anything about the operation?
- Who asked Doug Chan to set up BLUPAC?
- Will the City take future action?
If the FPPC reveals BLUPAC’s donors, they would be like the legendary Lucha Libre icon Blue Demon being unmasked. That would be amazing and historic.