Birdseye responds to negative adsBy JOHN GLIDDEN October 16, 2018 at 6:34 pm
“People and companies go negative when they are afraid.”
Benicia City Council candidate Kari Birdseye responded Tuesday to questions asked by this newspaper after a special committee was formed to oppose her campaign.
As of Tuesday afternoon, financial records submitted to the Benicia City Clerk’s Office show that $124,000 has been pumped into the committee, which was also formed to support fellow council candidates Lionel Largaespada and Christina Strawbridge.
Records show that the Valero Benicia Refinery has contributed $14,200 to the committee named: Working Families for a Strong Benicia, a Coalition of Labor, Industrial Services Companies, Public Safety and Local Leaders Supporting Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada and Opposing Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council 2018.
The other funding sources are a number of union PACs.
“Valero and their friends are afraid of a candidate whose priorities include diversifying our tax base, promoting access to clean air and clean water and being a good neighbor at City Hall,” Birdseye wrote in an email to the Times-Herald.
The committee paid for a series of political phone calls to Benicians. A phone script was provided with the expenditure report given to the clerk’s office. It shows that if a respondent reported he/she may vote for Birdseye, the caller was to say that Birdseye is a “yes man for the mayor,” and not an independent thinker.
“I’m not sure if that phrase was meant to be a misogynistic slight but it is,” Birdseye wrote in her email. “I’m a woman, with a brain of my own. I’m nobody’s yes person. I will do my homework, listen to Benicians and make my own decisions based on what I think is best for our community.”
She also repudiated the claim that she isn’t an independent thinker.
“I’m a critical, strategic thinker with years of experience in management, finances and leadership,” she added. “I’m the last person who wants to give oxygen to the lie being spread about the Mayor and Vice Mayor building their shadow government, but if you look at the Vice Mayor’s voting record, he also is an independent thinker.”
The committee also bought digital advertisements to convince Benicia voters that Birdseye would be bad for the city.
Birdseye said Valero’s committee reminded her of when Chevron pumped millions of dollars in to the Richmond’s City Council race in 2014 — and lost.
“Outside influences are pouring more than $100,000 into our Benicia race, where all the candidate campaign money combined doesn’t equal that,” she said. “It is wrong, unfair and Benicia deserves better.”
Birdseye, Largaespada, Strawbridge, and Will Emes are all running for two open seats on the five-person Benicia City Council this fall. The two incumbents, Alan Schwartzman and Mark Hughes, have both declined to seek re-election to the council.
Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald
[Editor: Here’s a link to the City of Benicia’s Campaign Finance Reports. Check out the campaign telephone scripts and the dirty ads as well as the financial information. – R.S.]
Valero spends money to oppose Benicia candidate BirdseyeBy JOHN GLIDDEN, October 16, 2018 at 6:42 pm
BENICIA — The 2018 Benicia City Council election just got more interesting.
According to financial statements submitted to the Benicia City Clerk’s Office late last week, the Valero Benicia Refinery is funding a special committee to oppose council candidate Kari Birdseye.
The committee, known by a lengthy name, Working Families for a Strong Benicia, a Coalition of Labor, Industrial Services Companies, Public Safety and Local Leaders Supporting Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada and Opposing Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council 2018, has raised $124,200 within the past week.
Valero is responsible for $14,200 of that total, documents show.
Records further show that a portion of the monies have gone toward funding calls to local residents asking Benicians to support council candidates Lionel Largaespada and Christina Strawbridge, while rejecting Birdseye as “a yes man for the mayor.”
A phone script was provided with the expenditure as required by the Benicia Municipal Code. If the respondent says he/she is voting for Birdseye then the caller was to recommend that the potential voters reconsider.
In addition to the “yes man for the mayor” part, the script further states that “Benicia deserves an independent thinker to represent our local values.”
Records show that the special committee paid the Washington D.C-based Winning Connections to make the calls.
The business boasts on its website about getting results.
“Opinions are shaped one conversation at a time. At Winning Connections, we impact public policy by engaging thousands of Americans with one-on-one conversations over the phone or online,” the company’s website states. “Our clients pass legislation and win elections because we’ve reached their constituents on a personal level. With our research-based programs, research-driven scripts and precision operations we shape the way voters think about pivotal candidates and issues.”
Additional cash contributions came from the Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local Union 16 Political Action Committee which gave $20,000 to the group, while $30,000 came from the International Brotherhood of Boilmaker, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers Local 549 PAC, according to 497 forms posted to the city’s website last week.
The San Rafael-based Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross Leoni, LLC firm serves as treasurer of the special committee. Campaign forms submitted to the California Secretary of State show that the firm also serves as official treasurer to Valero’s major donor committee.
Jason D. Kaune, partner in the firm, confirmed the Heat & Frost Insulator’s PAC actually gave $20,000 to the Working Families for a Strong Benicia committee instead of the $30,000 first reported. He said a correction will be filed.
The clerk’s office has posted new 497 forms online this week showing that the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California Independent Expenditure PAC also gave the Working Families for a Strong Benicia $30,000, and $30,000 came from the California State Pipe Trades Council PAC, bringing the total monies raised for the committee at $124,200.
State and local campaigns are required to submit a 497 form when receiving a total aggregate of $1,000 or more during the 90 days before an election. They must report the donation within 24-hours after receiving the large donation.
The special committee has submitted six expenditure forms as of Tuesday, two for each candidate.
The forms show that a combined $29,700 was spent for the calls and “use of poll.” It’s not known if “use of poll” is in reference to a survey commissioned by Valero which appeared to smear Birdseye and show support for Largaespada.
Many of the residents who took the survey felt it was a “push poll,” meant to sway public opinion instead of recording objective information from those surveyed. The polling firms which conducted the poll deny the allegation.
Records also show that the special committee spent an additional $20,000 on media adds which, in the same manner as the phone script, support Strawbridge and Largaespada, while bashing Birdseye.
Birdseye, Largaespada, Strawbridge, and Will Emes are all running for two open seats on the five-person Benicia City Council this fall. The two incumbents, Alan Schwartzman and Mark Hughes have both declined to seek re-election to the council.