Squid Speaks

PAC Attack…After all of Squid’s Christmas shopping—the yarn to make those tentacle-warmers for Squid’s pal Flapjack the Octopus has to come from somewhere—Squid was counting what was left in Squid’s piggy bank. It would’ve been enough to make a donation to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign (average donation $18.53), but not enough to get involved in Monterey County politics.

As campaign season kicks into gear, Squid took a look at some recent PAC reports for Monterey County, and Squid expects 2020 will be busy, especially with some new players on the block. 

The Latino Counties Leadership PAC, registered to former Salinas City Councilmeber Sergio Sanchez, formed in 2018 but hasn’t done any fundraising since. (Squid guesses they probably won’t this year, either; they’ve logged their position in support of County Supervisor Luis Alejo, who is uncontested in his bid for re-election.) 

Squid has already covered the newly formed Committee to Recall Steve Bernal. There’s also the new People Against Corruption Political Action Committee, which counts Bill Lipe—a former candidate for State Assembly in 2018—as its principal officer. (Neither one of those has yet reported any fundraising, but Squid expects the money part to ramp up in 2020 during the primary and general election seasons.) 

Monterey County New Progressives registered last February, and has raised at least $5,500 so far, with most of that ($5,000) coming from George Riley, an elected board member of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. There are also smaller contributions from County Supervisor Jane Parker (who’s retiring this year and endorsing her aide Wendy Root Askew for her seat); Regina Gage, a one-time county supervisor candidate and current board member of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System; and Carmel Valley resident Konny Murray, a longtime donor to progressive causes and the PAC’s principal officer. 

A similarly aligned group, the Progressive Democrats of America Monterey Area Chapter, raised a little more than $5,000 last year, and starts 2020 with $3,000 in the bank. 

The Salinas Valley Democratic Club hasn’t been raising or spending much money in recent years, but they’ve refiled paperwork to stay current, and Squid wouldn’t be surprised if they kick it up a notch this year. The Monterey County Prosecutors Association starts the year with more than $40,000 in the bank. 

The right-leaning Monterey County Business PAC has been in the news in recent weeks because it is under investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission; a related investigation into the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and newly hired Laguna Seca Raceway boss John Narigi has since wrapped, with no findings of wrongdoing, per a Jan. 3 letter from the FPPC’s enforcement chief, Galena West

That committee had about $26,000 in the bank as of June 30; Squid expects to see activity from this group in 2020. (Contributors last year include construction giant Don Chapin Co.; architecture firm Wald, Ruhnke & Dost; the Monterey County Hospitality Association; Colby Pereira, president of the Monterey County Farm Bureau; and the law firm JRG, which has big business in land use and cannabis.) 

Don Chapin, he of the eponymous construction company, also launched the Salinas Valley Leadership Group, which as of June 30, reported a balance of more than $52,000. 

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But all of these committees have got nothing on the dollar figures that are moving around in the race for Monterey County District 4 supervisor (to succeed Jane Parker).

Christmas came early for Steve McShane, who raised $30,500 in December alone, and who has raised at least $154,000—including $1,000 from a former candidate for the same seat, Byrl Smith, and $25,000 from the Monterey County Business PAC (see above). 

Wendy Root Askew has raised at least $106,000. 

Wini Chambliss has reported zero fundraising so far; Alex Miller has raised at least $873—pennies, relatively, but someone’s gotta pay for food at his cleverly named “hot dog with the underdog” campaign events. 

Phew. As happens every time Squid goes through campaign finance figures, Squid feels a little overwhelmed by doing so much math. And Squid wonders: What if we took the money and spent it on solving Monterey County’s problems directly? Squid’s counted more than $387,000 so far today for the purposes of this column. For that much money, Squid thinks we could beautify a District 4 park or three. 

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