Independent groups pump cash into Assembly campaign
Contributions from political action committees boost Berman's bid to replace Rich Gordon
With the crowded race to succeed Assemblyman Rich Gordon in the 24th District heading into the final stretch, independent political action committees are throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the contest in hopes of influencing the outcome.
Palo Alto City Councilman Marc Berman has been the chief beneficiary of these political action committees, with groups funded by dentists, Realtors, car dealers, poultry farmers and pawnbrokers collectively contributing thousands of dollars to his campaign in the month leading up to the June 7 primary.
Berman, an attorney who until last fall worked as development director at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, benefited from huge infusion of cash from EdVoice Independent Expenditure Committee, the political arm of the Sacramento-based education-policy nonprofit. Last week, the committee made a series of expenditures totaling $368,291 to support Berman's bid for the Assembly.
The group paid for several flyers, one touting Berman as "one of our region's innovative leaders" and crediting him for "(leading) the charge to transition Palo Alto toward cleaner energy" and for helping to close the achievement gap in public schools.
Berman said the EdVoice expenditures were made completely independently from his campaign.
"We had no coordination with (EdVoice) whatsoever," Berman said.
The California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee, based in Los Angeles, is also backing Berman with fliers and contributions. Last week, the group issued several fliers urging voters to support Berman, one touting his "proven record of fighting for us" and another referring to him as a "progressive focused on fiscal responsibility."
Meanwhile, another independent group, Californians Allied For Patient Protection Independent Expenditure Account, paid for an ad that takes a swing at Vicki Veenker, who is also vying for the Assembly seat. The flier criticizes Veenker for not having held an elected office and for having "never been seen at council meetings." In an obvious allusion to Donald Trump, the flier states that Veenker "sounds like someone we know running for President, doesn't it."
The attack ad drew an immediate rebuke from the California chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus of California, which has endorsed Veenker. Angelica Ramos, president of the group's local chapter, issued a statement that blasted the ad for implying to Peninsula women and girls that "despite all the hard work they do behind the scenes, like Vicki, they are unqualified for advancement as well.
"This is the kind of institutional sexism that discourages other qualified women from running for office, and it shows," the statement read.
(Berman told the Palo Alto Weekly that his campaign had nothing to do with the mailer and that negative attacks have no place in the race.)
Veenker is also backed by numerous political action committees, though she lags far behind Berman in contributions from these groups. Last week she received one $4,200 contribution from the Women's Political Committee and another $4,200 contribution from the Women In Power Political Action Committee. And last month, she received $8,500 from the California Nurses Association Political Action Committee; $2,500 from the Mountain View Professional Firefighters Political Action Committee; and $1,000 from D.R.I.V.E., a political action committee of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Earlier this year, Veenker also benefited from an $8,500 contribution from the California Teachers Association, one of her top backers.
Veenker is also the only candidate in California who is being directly opposed by the Californians Allied For Patient Protection Independent Expenditure Account. The group has raised money to support numerous candidates for the state Assembly, including Joaquin Independent groups pump cash into Assembly campaign | News | Palo Alto Online |:
What and Who Is EdVoice? | Diane Ravitch's blog http://bit.ly/1TBlDlB
Big Education Ape: News Analysis: Education fight ‘over shades of Democrat’ | CALmatters http://bit.ly/25csc6L
Big Education Ape: Local legislative races become battleground in statewide fight over education http://bit.ly/1WMlJKA