Lingering questions regarding Anti-Birdseye PAC money

By Roger Straw, October 18, 2018

The Benicia City Attorney and City Clerk were not helpful in clarifying certain questions regarding funds collected and spent by the Anti-Birdseye political action committee (PAC) as of October 13.

In my last report of October 13, I was able to post links to the City of Benicia website showing the Anti-Birdseye PAC’s first Contribution Report (Form 497-1), totaling $74,200.  Strangely, I was able to report an additional $30,000 contribution which showed up in an Expenditure Report (Form 496-4).  So I reported total receipts of $74,200 + $30,000, or $104,200.

Also in my Oct 13 report, I was able to post links to the City of Benicia website showing details from the four Anti-Birdseye PAC Expenditure forms. Form 496-1 reported $9,900 spent for phone calls on behalf of candidate Strawbridge; Form 496-2 showed $9,900 spent for phone calls on behalf of candidate Largaespada; and Form 496-3 showed $9,900 spent for phone calls to oppose candidate Kari Birdseye.  An additional Form 496-4 showed $6,689 for negative digital advertising to smear candidate Birdseye

These expenditure reports confused me, so I wrote to our Benicia City Attorney and City Clerk asking for clarification, “On 496 Expenditure forms #1, #2 and #3, the exact same amounts are listed, $5,166.66 and $4,733.34.  Does this mean that a total of $9,900 was spent THREE times, for a grand total of $29,700?  Or are all three forms reporting the same dollars for a total of only $9,900?”

The City could not, or would not take time to help.  City Attorney Heather McLaughlin replied, “Your questions are more properly addressed to the FPPC.  The city doesn’t get into substantively analyzing the reports.”

Left to my own conclusions, I’d guess that a total of $9,900 had been spent on phone calls as of Oct. 13, and was simply reported three times on the separate forms to show the PAC’s intent to support CS & LL and to oppose Kari Birdseye.  The additional $6,689 on video smears against Birdseye brings the total spent as of Oct. 13 to $16,589, leaving $87,611 in the PAC’s account for future campaign efforts.

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