PAC - Raising Cash as Well as Questions

May 29, 2008 11:31:49 PM PDT
Since 2001, California's so-called "Statewide Independent Political Action Committees" have spent more than 63-million dollars benefiting candidates running for state office.The city of Fresno's mayoral race is crowded with candidates working for supporters and votes, but it takes money to get your message out. And recently a different financial player has arrived on the scene.

These Fresno residents are working for the Strengthening Our Lives independent expenditure candidate PAC or Political Action Committee. Its website shows a southern California address. It's here in Fresno to canvas precincts, make phone calls, and on Election Day get out the vote for Henry T. Parea for Fresno mayor but they are not part of his campaign.

By law these independent candidate PACS can have no contact with any candidate. Chava Bustamante runs the Fresno operation.

Chava Bustamante, Strengthening Our Lives I.E. Pac: "Chava Bustamante: Strengthening Our Lives I.E. PAC: We do not use the money that we get to do attack pieces. We use the money to promote values that are important to our communities."

Bustamante says the PAC is in business to educate Latino and working class Californians and is largely supported by California's service employee international union locals. Fresno County Lincoln Club member, Republican Tal Cloud says the city's campaign contribution limits are to blame for the involvement of these PAC'S in local races.

Tal Cloud, Fresno Lincoln Club I.E. Pac: "The city of Fresno has restricted the candidate's ability to raise money up to 90 days or 120 days. Because they can't raise money you'll see a lot of these outside forces coming in."

But the Fresno Lincoln Club has its own "Independent Expenditures Political Action Committee" operating locally. It supports fiscal conservatives and opposes liberal or inexperienced candidates. The PAC tells action news it will spent 50-thousand dollars before Election Day on both support and attack mailers and negative radio ads against mayoral candidate Henry T. Perea, the latest one references the "Strengthening Our Lives".

"Folks, that's 7-hundred thousand dollars in outside money to elect an inexperienced candidate for mayor."

The reporting documents for both local and out of town individual and union donations does total more than seven-hundred thousand plus.

abc30 Political Analyst Tony Capozzi believes that total doesn't necessarily reflect what will be spent in Fresno.

Tony Capozzi, abc30 Political Analyst: "They have to report all the money raised no matter where it comes from be it from LA, Sacramento or locally"

"Strengthening Our Lives " tells action news it will spend just 55-65 thousand dollars from local contributors and the remaining will be spent on behalf of southern California candidates. Capozzi thinks that's probably true.

Tony Capozzi, abc30 Political Analyst: "The money that's been raised from the local people is what's going to be spent in this particular elections and I think that's 50 of 60 thousand."

Just about what the Lincoln Club Pac tells us it will spend. The purpose of these PACS according to California's Fair Political Practices Commission is to circumvent local and state contribution limits resulting in a warped elections system in California.

Tony Capozzi, abc30 Political Analyst: They have a lot of money, they have a lot of power and they really can affect an election both on a state and local level."

We'd like to tell you what Fresno mayoral candidate Henry T. Perea thinks about all this but in a brief phone conversation with me after expressing surprise Perea would not comment further.


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