By Barb Stanton
San Bernardino County recently released reports indicating just how much local politicians have collected in their quest to garner an office. Political Action Committees play an important role in garnering and dispersing funds for politicians.
San Bernardino County does not limit political contributions to its elected leaders' campaigns.
Elected officials gather hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations while most other local politicians - and all federal lawmakers, are working with mandatory contribution limits.
Appointed 1st District Supervisor, Brad Mitzelfelt has raised an astounding $850,000. His filing forms indicate he has approximately $700,000 and has raised 380,000 in this filing period. Spending $129,000 in the past six months of 2007. Mitzelfelt is making his first run for office representing the High Desert 1st District. He was appointed in January 2007 to fill the remainder of former Supervisor Bill Postmus' term. Mitzelfelt served as chief of staff to Postmus, who was elected county assessor in November 2006.
Mitzelfelt says, “I’m really happy with the results of our fundraising effort, particularly when the economy isn’t doing as strong as we’d like.” He went on to say, “I’m pretty confident with the amount that we have raised, and will communicate with the voters effectively.”
The Inland Empire Political Action Committee or PAC gave him an astounding $100,000. When asked about this large donation to his campaign he indicated he didn’t know where the funds came from! A woman who’s name is very well known in political circles, Betty Presley, is listed on the forms as the contact for this PAC, Presley is Mitzelfelt's treasurer. The PAC, which has traditionally funded development-friendly politicians, receives heavy funding from Jeffrey Burum of the Colonies development project in Upland. (The Colonies sued San Bernardino County successfully over a flood control issue and won an astounding $102,000,000 - that’s from you and I the tax payers!) Colonies donated $93,445 to the group last year.
In November 2006, the county PAID the Colonies the $102 million to settle the developer's lawsuit over a 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland.
Mitzelfelt, this week, explained that another organization has the same name and he wasn’t sure which one had given him the $100,000 donation. Mitzelfelt tried to explain that, "I have small donors who have given, and I have those who have given large amounts,"The amounts have nothing to do with how I treat any person or issue. Every issue is decided on the merits and the people I represent."
Presley has also been treasurer for Assessor Bill Postmus for years. Strange that Mitzelfelt fails to recall where a $100,000 donation comes from....just one of many lapses in his memory...it’s called selective memory!
Presley gets around she also was treasure of the Irvine City, School Neighborhood Leaders Committee in 2007. Also Carlos Bustamante Candidacy for Orange County Supervisor, 1st District in 2006 . Presley acted as treasurer for Anthony Adams campaign for Assembly. In 2001 Presley represented Darrel Issa as his treasurer. Presley has also represented Women’s Alliance for Israel, a pro-Israel group. Presley represents, again as the treasure, the Irvine City, School Neighborhood Leaders Committee. Also Carlos Bustamante Candidacy for Orange County Supervisor, 1st District in 2006 .
Presley from Rancho Santa Margarita also acts as a Financial Analyst and charges for her services with fees from varying ranging . Recently the Lincoln Club of Orange County showed expenditures for Presley from Feb -April - July-November and December of 2007 at a cost of $5,000.
Presley acted as treasurer for Anthony Adams campaign for Assembly. While investigating information for this story I looked up Assemblyman Anthony Adams current campaign contributions disclosure and discovered: Gary Ovitt San Bernardino County Supervisor gave Adams $3,300. And surprise, Committee to Elect Brad Mitzelfelt donated $6,300 in July of 2007 - long after Adams was elected as Assemblyman for the 59th District. Paula Nowicki gave $150 in June 2007 Joseph Brady, aka Bradco gave $250 in June too. And another surprise the Inland Empire PAC (Rancho Santa Margarita-Presley) gave $3,000 in March of 2007. Gas and Pharmaceutical research company's and Glaxosmithkline also favor Adams. Michelle Steel gave $6,600 in July. Adams continues to raise monies.
Presley also has acted as treasurer for years for Assessor Bill Postmus. Then -Supervisor Bill Postmus received an unprecedented $240,000 from Young Homes, one of San Bernardino County’s largest developers, in his bid for assessor. Many citizens are questioning the a developer giving so much to elect Postmus when the assessors office will make the determination on the value of their various properties..
Presley’s name popped up in a few compliance cases. To name one: In 2000 Presley was fined $7,000 for Failure to Timely File Late Contribution Reports. In the matter of Jim Morrissey, Morrissey for Assembly, FPPC No. 2000/63. A Franchise Tax board audit found that Jim Morrissey, his controlled committee, and committee treasurer (Presley) failed to report, within 24 hours of receipt, five late contributions, in violation of Government Code section 84203 (5 counts). Presley has been named in similar suits in the past also. So much for Mitzelfelt's failure to recall just who gave him $100,000.
Two other candidates have pulled papers for the 1st District County Supervisor according to reports. From Hinkley, Attorney Bob Conaway; and Victor Valley resident and Retired Systems Analyst, Bob Nelson. Joe Gomez, a Barstow councilman, has expressed interest in running but has not raised any funds nor pulled papers.
Robert Conaway, says he will run without doing much fundraising.. "It's always about grassroots," Conaway said. "What gets votes out is the person-to-person contact." Bob Nelson is a well know activist who has addressed the supervisor’s regularly at their weekly meetings.
Many high desert residents are not happy with the developments and the amount of monies the Mitzelfelt has garnered.
Hesperia Planning Commissioner, Paul Bosacki - on his web site - Pave Roads First tells citizens, “On June 3rd - please vote for anyone but the Bill Postmus and Building Industry Association controlled candidate- Brad- Bought and Paid For- Mitzelfelt. They don't give him $850,000.00 without expecting a return on their investment. They gave Postmus $2.4 million to get him in as assessor-he has returned their investment with $28 MILLION in property tax reductions for hand picked parcels.”
Bosacki goes on to say citizens should vote for anyone but NOT FOR BRAD MITZELFELT.
He hopes to see more candidates enter the 1st District race. Despite the good old boys network spin machine on high over Mitzelfelt's million dollars worth of special interests donations, Bosacki thinks any candidate who makes this race about the needs of the voters in the 1st district can beat him. “It's the votes- stupid- not how much money you spend that win elections. Postmus and his boy Mitzelfelt have generated a lot of negative feelings about them once people find out that they always put the developers or campaign contributors before the citizens while spending our tax dollars. The sludge plant in Hinkley over the local residents protests for one example, “ Bosacki says.
San Bernardino County must set campaign contribution limits and put an end to a corrupt system. Lax rules allow huge donations and a contribution of that size carries a message because no matter what anyone claims, it's given for a reason..
The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) said that use of independent expenditures - campaign spending that supposedly isn't coordinated with a candidate - has jumped more than 6,000 percent in legislative races and more than 5,000 percent in campaigns for governor and other statewide offices since Proposition 34's limits on donations to candidates began.
That's resulted in more than $88 million in television and radio ads, brochures and other campaign spending paid for by a variety of interest groups.
All races should be cut to the same level as federal contribution limits - $2,300 per donor per election, period.
The astronomical donation to Postmus from Young Homes is on of the single largest contributions ever made in the nation according to some analysts who believe that a contribution of that size carries a message because no matter what anyone claims, it's given for a reason.
Being granted access to the assessor and influencing his decisions seem probable. Young Homes may like Postmus but $240,000 was given as a business decision and it seems business may be very, very good for Young Homes.
San Bernardino County has two other supervisors up for election in June who are sitting on sizable campaign funds as they gear up for their races, recently filed finance statements show.
Dennis Hansberger, Third District Supervisor is running for his fourth term representing the East Valley, raised $320,551 last year and started 2008 with $493,305 in cash on hand. His biggest contribution was $25,000 from Comprehensive Pharmacy Services, a Memphis, Tennessee pharmaceutical company.
San Bernardino City Councilman Neil Derry, Hansberger's only announced opponent, has raised $131,336 last year and had $103,325 on hand. Derry’s largest donor was the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association, who gave him $35,774, the union representing county law-enforcement employees,
Josie Gonzales, Fifth District Supervisor, is thus far running unopposed, raised $422,415 last year. Gonzales represents Rialto, Colton and San Bernardino. She had $351,594 on hand. Young Homes of Rancho Cucamonga has given her the largest donation of $38,000. Another huge donation from this developer.
San Bernardino County urgently needs to cap donations to all candidates to a reasonable amount and level the playing field. Until we make changes in our election process the ‘anointed’ ones will gather the hundreds of thousands of dollars and leave any other qualified citizen far behind.Think about it...why would any person or company give a hundred thousand dollars to a campaign unless...yes - they expected a return on their investment. And for the APPOINTED Supervisor to state that he didn’t know who had given him $100,000 - well - it is absurd.
May 21, 2010
Has the Mojave Cross have been removed for good?
A cross replacing the original at the Mojave Desert war memorial has been declared illegal and taken down.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the 9th Circuit overstepped its bounds when it ruled the cross must be removed. Since then, the memorial had remained covered with a plywood box until it was stolen on May 9.
Linda Slater, public information officer with the Mojave National Preserve, said the cross that mysteriously appeared last week was unauthorized.
"The main reason that we can't put a replacement cross up or allow one to be put up," she said, "is because we are under court order to not display a cross on Sunrise Rock."
Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of Liberty Institute, said his team will work to convince the Justice Department to replace the cross.
"That's not a proper act to take," he said. "Our veterans deserve more than that, and that memorial needs to be put back up."
An anonymous donation means there is a $125,000 reward posted for tips leading to the conviction of whoever stole the cross that served as a memorial to Americans who served during World War I.
A decorated military veteran offered $100,000 for the reward, said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for Liberty Institute. That figure was added to the previous $25,000 offer.
The cross stood at Sunrise Rock, which is about 15 miles south of the 15 Freeway along Cima Road in the Mojave National Preserve.