Out-of-Towners Finance Campaigns

A powerful political action group (PAC) has decided to invest in Alameda’s future. The Golden State Leadership Fund with its Southern California address has poured tens of thousands of dollars into the races for a seat on the Alameda City Council, allowing incumbent Stewart Chen to outspend his rival, Frank Matarrese.

A slick mailer with a more local origin allows Chen and his fellow city council candidate, Jim Oddie, to share in the out-of-town bounty.

This is not the first time that this PAC has made its presence felt in Alameda. In 2012 journalist Steve Tavares — who with Michele Ellson broke the story about Chen’s past misdemeanor convictions for fraud — reported that during his successful run for the 18th District Assembly seat, Assemblyman Rob Bonta was "on the receiving end of $34,392 in independent expenditures from a group calling itself the Golden State Leadership Fund PAC."

Tavares pointed out that the connection between Bonta and Golden State "is likely Bonta’s campaign consultant, Duffy & Capitolo," which has donated to this PAC in the past.

Golden State’s name came up in recent disclosures filed by Chen in his race for reelection. In a second story on the Alameda Sun’s front page in today’s edition, Ellson reports that Vince Duffy and Mark Capitolo have earned close to $100,000 from clients that include not only Chen and Oddie, but Mayor Marie Gilmore, Alameda Firefighters Local 689, and the Alameda Unified School District’s Yes on I campaign.

In reporting its most recent contribution to Chen, Golden State revealed that, over time, it has contributed $21,611.08 to the city councilman’s campaign. On this same disclosure Golden State gave its address at 1527 South Sepulveda Ave. in Los Angeles. The Sun found no trace of Golden State at this address, but did learn that one of the PAC’s affiliates, the accounting firm Sed Quaere, LP, has its offices there.

(The firm takes its moniker from a piece of advice expressed in Latin to the legal community. "You may be fully aware of the facts in a statement," the advice runs, "but inquire (sed quaere) anyway, as these facts may be in doubt.")

The Alameda Sun discovered Sed Quaere, LP on Golden State Leadership Fund’s payroll. Golden State is likely using Sed Quaere LP’s address on the disclosure forms. Sed Quaere, LP, did not return the Alameda Sun’s phone calls to
confirm this.

An accounting firm with a more local address is apparently paying for a mailer that tells Alameda voters not to vote for Matarrese. Alamedans found this missive in their mailboxes on Monday. The slick featured both Chen and Oddie’s photographs on both sides, saying, "We cannot elect someone who is termed out and is now trying to run again. Say ‘no’ to a termed- out candidate."

For the record, Frank Matarrese is not termed out, as the mailer implies. He was elected to sit on the city council in 2002 and again in 2006. He termed out to 2010 and, today, has as much right to run for city council as either Chen or Oddie. In fact, Matarrese has far more council experience than the incumbent Chen, who was appointed, not elected, to fill Bonta’s seat on the city council less than two years ago, when Bonta went to Sacramento. Oddie has never sat on the city council.

The organization on the mailer disparaging Matarrese the "Alameda County Business and Technology Consortium 2014" is untraceable. The name is strangely similar to the "Alpha Valley Business and Technology Consortium," which formed (and disbanded) last year in San Leandro, nowhere near any place called "Alpha Valley."

The inability to find any information on the name calls to mind SunCal’s mailer during the developer’s failed 2010 Measure B campaign. Instead of using a fabricated name, SunCal used a fabricated address that turned out to be a spot of dirt at Constitution Way and Atlantic Avenue.

The organization’s address on the anti-Matarrese mailer — 5940 College Ave., Suite F — is real enough, though. It belongs to an accounting firm, The Henry Levy Group. A call to Henry Levy went unreturned.

The bottom line: Wherever this new money is coming from — most of it from out of town — and whatever its source — most of it from out-of-towners — this new money talks. This election season, money is pouring over the bridges and through the tubes. In the second instance researched for this story the money is sending out the message. "Don’t vote for Matarrese. Vote instead for Chen and Oddie."

Of course, conveniently enough for Chen and Oddie, the slick that the out-of-town money paid for contains a caveat that states, "Not authorized by the candidate or a committee controlled by the candidate."