Category Archives: Valero Benicia Refinery

UPDATE: Anti-Birdseye PAC gets more money

By Roger Straw, October 18, 2018

The Benicia City Clerk notified City Council members and candidates yesterday that additional campaign finance reports were received from the Pro-Strawbridge-Largaespada/Anti-Birdseye PAC. [Editor: You will notice that I am purposely avoiding use of the politically loaded and false title the PAC has chosen for itself, Wkg Fmls…]

Two NEW Contribution Forms 497 were filed, and one NEW Expenditure Form 496 was received from the PAC on Wednesday.

In addition, since last reported here on October 13, a few new reports and corrective AMENDED reports were filed.  These new filings are not clearly labeled by the City of Benicia.  All are simply listed by number on the City website without much guidance for voters.  I’ll try to sort it out below, with new totals.

But meanwhile, be alert!  In summary, the PAC is absolutely LOADED for more big campaign expenditures during these final weeks before election day.  TOTAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF $154,200 MINUS EXPENDITURES TO DATE OF $25,836.06: $128,363.94.



  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_1.pdf
    PRO-STRAWBRIDGE: Winning Connections calls $5,166.67 on 10/10; Valero Use of Poll $4,733.34 on 10/10
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_2.pdf
    PRO-LARGAESPADA: Winning Connections calls $5,166.67 on 10/10; Valero Use of Poll $4,733.34 on 10/10
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_3.pdf
    ANTI-BIRDSEYE: Winning Connections calls $5,166.67 on 10/10; Valero Use of Poll $4,733.34 on 10/10
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_4.pdf
    ANTI-BIRDSEYE: Digital Turf media buy $4,689 on 10/11 (cumulative to date $16,589); Digital Turf ad production $2,000 on 10/11 (cumulative to date $16,589)
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_5.pdf
    PRO-STRAWBRIDGE: Digital Turf media buy $4,689 on 10/13 (cumulative to date $16,589); Digital Turf ad production $2,000 on 10/13 (cumulative to date $16,589)
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_6.pdf
    PRO-LARGAESPADA: Digital Turf media buy $4,689 on 10/13 (cumulative to date $16,589); Digital Turf ad production $2,000 on 10/13 (cumulative to date $16,589)
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_7.pdf
    AMENDMENT TO 496-1 PRO-STRAWBRIDGE Winning Connection calls $5,413.73 (not $5,166.67) and (cumulative to date $16,836.07); Heat & Frost contribution of $20,000 (not $30,000) on 10/16
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_8.pdf
    AMENDMENT TO 496-2 PRO-LARGAESPADA: Winning Connections calls $5,413.73 (not $5,166.67) and (cumulative to date $16,836.07) on 10/16
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_9.pdf
    AMENDMENT TO 496-3 ANTI-BIRDSEYE: Winning Connections calls $5,413.73 (not $5,166.67) and (cumulative to date $16,836.07) on 10/16
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_10.pdf
    AMENDMENT TO 496-4 ANTI-BIRDSEYE: Digital Turf media buy and ad production (and cumulative to date $16,836) on 10/15
  • Anti-Birdseye_PAC_Form_496_11.pdf
    NEW EXPENDITURE PRO-LARGAESPADA: Winning Connection calls $9,000 (cumulative to date $25,836.06) on 10/16

    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.

      Benicia will file “push poll” complaint with Fair Political Practices Commission

      Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald
      [Editor: See also Kari Birdseye responds to negative ads, and her Facebook ad: Kari Birdseye cannot be bullied or bought.  – R.S.]

      Benicia council directs staff to file complaint over “push poll”

      By JOHN GLIDDEN, October 17, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      BENICIA — City Attorney Heather Mc Laughlin has been directed by a unanimous vote of the council to send a formal complaint to the state about a recent polling survey in the city.

      The vote took place during the City Council’s closed session on Tuesday.

      Mc Laughlin will send the complaint to the California Fair Political Practices Commission after the polling firms, hired by Valero Benicia Refinery, refused to provide a copy of the questions.

      City officials believe the survey may have violated the city’s municipal code when the callers failed to state that the survey was a political call. Research America and EMC Research, which were contacted to conduct the survey, said, through their attorney, that the calls were not political and thus didn’t require a disclaimer or “paid for” notice.

      Vice Mayor Steve Young spoke during the open session portion of Tuesday night’s meeting and said the issue could be resolved if Valero simply provided a copy of the questions asked to about 250 residents.

      “It’s easy to put to rest,” Young said about Valero providing the questions.

      The council earlier this month directed Mc Laughlin to obtain the questions and other items related to the survey after Young and other residents reported receiving one of the survey calls in late September.

      Young called the survey a “push poll,” which is a survey used to influence the respondent instead of collecting factual information.

      The polling companies, through their lawyer, further said 256 randomly selected likely voters from within Benicia were contacted from Sept. 6 to Sept. 20 to participate.

      During her investigation, Valero admitted to paying for the survey.

      The Times-Herald has asked Valero repeatedly for a copy of the questions but the company has ignored those requests.

      “It’s their property,” Young further said Tuesday night about the survey questions.

      He said Valero’s failure to provide information about the survey forces the City Council to act.

      “We’re put into the position of having to take the next step to protect our own ordinance,” he added.