Valero and it’s labor force will once again have more money to spend than any of the candidates running for office in Benicia this year. Most likely more than all candidates combined.
On November 20, 2019 Valero added $200,000 to a carry-over balance of $48,161.54. The balance remained after the PAC’s huge expenditures in the 2018 race in which they smeared and spread misinformation, successfully defeating City Council candidate Kari Birdseye.
Here we go again – Valero, refinery labor unions and big outside money plan to take over our Benicia elections like they did in 2018. We (or they) will elect a Mayor and two City Council members. Will it be another dirty smear campaign? – R.S.
BENICIA — While many of the active political campaigns in town were quiet during the second half of 2019, a special general purpose recipient committee received $200,000 in cash from the Valero Benicia Refinery, according to contribution forms submitted to the Benicia City Clerk’s Office.
The committee, Working Families for a Strong Benicia, a Coalition of Labor, Industrial Services Companies, received the donation on Nov. 20. It reported a cash balance of $248,111 at the end of the year.
The committee was active during the Benicia City Council elections in 2018, raising thousands of dollars from Valero, unions, and businesses. The committee actively supported Vice Mayor Christina Strawbridge and Councilmember Lionel Largaespada, while opposing unsuccessful council candidate Kari Birdseye.
All open campaign committee were required to submit reports on Jan. 31, 2020 for the period covering July 1 through Dec. 31, 2019.
Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson reported having a cash balance of $1,277 at the end of 2019, while Strawbridge reported a zero balance after paying herself back $1,500 of a $4,000 loan she gave her committee. She forgave the rest.
Largaespada said he had a $95 balance as councilmembers Tom Campbell and Steve Young reported no action.
The Progressive Democrats of Benicia picked up $180 from Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown. The club reported a cash balance of $1,196 on Dec. 31.
Finally, the Benicia Police Officers’ Association reported no action during the same time period. It ended the year with $4,581 in cash.
[Editor: the AdWATCH story below only tells you how to report improper or missing disclosure of who is sponsoring a political sign or advertisement. That’s important, but the FPPC’s FILE A COMPLAINT page is much broader. It also accepts complaints regarding • Financial conflicts of interest; • Campaign money laundering; • Over-the-limit gifts and contributions; • Improper use of campaign funds, including personal use; • Campaign mass mailings at public expense; • False, inadequate, or inaccurate reporting on statements of economic interests; • campaign statements and reports; • Non-filing or late filing of such statements and reports; and • Anonymous or cash contributions of $100 or more). Let’s all be vigilant during the March 3 and November 13 2020 elections! – R.S.]
Fair Political Practices Commission resumes AdWATCH
SACRAMENTO — The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is reintroducing it’s successful AdWATCH program to provide the public a way to participate in making sure there is proper disclosure on political signs and other advertising, the agency announced Monday.
FPPC launched FPPC AdWATCH for the 2019 election cycle and is now resuming an updated FPPC AdWATCH for the 2020 primary election. FPPC AdWATCH on the FPPC website provides a place where anyone can upload a picture of a campaign sign or video they think may be questionable in terms of the legally required disclosure.
“FPPC AdWATCH is an easy way for the public to help determine who’s behind some of the political advertising around the State,” said FPPC Chair Richard C. Miadich in a statement released by the agency. “Not only does it help the public see who’s doing the advertising, but the public plays a vital role in helping our Enforcement Division do its job of making sure campaigns are following the rules and ensuring a level playing field.”
One of the portals allows you to upload a picture of a campaign billboard or sign, either from a desktop, laptop or from their mobile device. Another portal accepts links to videos of campaign ads, either internet or television.
The FPPC Enforcement Division is then able to quickly view the ads to determine if they contain proper disclosure and take appropriate action if they don’t. The portal allows the public the option to provide their name or remain anonymous and report the ad without filing a complaint with the FPPC.
“One of the key points of the law is the public deserves to know who’s paying for political advertising,” said FPPC Enforcement Chief Galena West in the same press release. “We rely on the public to help us make sure the correct information is out there and that campaigns follow the law.”
In its 2019 run, the public uploaded more than 150 ads to FPPC AdWATCH. In addition, FPPC Enforcement proactively reviewed 600 more ads and combined found more than 120 advertisements that were potentially non-compliant. When the FPPC Enforcement Division determines who is responsible for the ad, they are then contacted for correction or removal of the non-compliant advertisement, if feasible.