San Leandro Bytes reported Monday night possible links between a Southern California Political Action Committee, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi and San Leandro Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak, a candidate for mayor this November.

There is nothing illegal about any of these campaign finance dealings on the surface, but the inherent potential of cross-mingling the interests of the Economic Development Alliance and the campaign of Hayashi and future political aspirations of her husband, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi, could be cause for concern and dramatically change the dynamic of the race for mayor of San Leandro.

PACs, by definition, allows labor unions and corporations to funnel fundraising dollars to political causes as large as $5,000. Candidates benefit from, what some critics say is an avenue to skirt campaign finance laws, by receiving larger amounts than afforded to individuals.

The circumstances around the connection between the Economic Development Alliance and Hayashi’s mental health foundation, the Iris Alliance Fund, put into questions whether the PAC is being illegally coordinated by the Hayashis since a vast majority of its donations have gone to Dennis Hayashi, according to San Leandro Bytes.

The uptick in campaign fundraising by Hayashi last year–over $400,000–has not quelled rumors she is angling for a possible run for state Sen. Ellen Corbett’s seat (still unlikely) or political aspirations far grander than the assembly (more likely). A frenetic rush of fundraising donors listing on the Secretary of State’s web site also includes an expenditure of over $25,000 for a lavish fundraising event in Sonoma County. The early October weekend spa event made waves in the East Bay when some current and public officials questioned why during a recession, Hayashi would make large campaign expenditures outside of her district where unemployment runs as high as 11 percent.

How the Southern California PAC will affect the mayor’s race in San Leandro is unclear, but some have suggested the cozy relationship between Hayashi and Starosciak will benefit the vice mayor, who’s candidacy has laid relatively low in the early goings of the campaign. One source says Starosciak’s unaction thus far is a typical tactic of her political consultant, Larry Tramutola, who is also known for aggressive campaign literature. A common refrain among many is Hayashi could fund Starosciak’s campaign for mayor if she chose if the political fallout of such action would not undermine the vice mayor’s campaign against current Mayor Tony Santos.

This type of political powerplay by Hayashi would not be something new. During her husband’s campaign for superior court judge in 2008 she pitched in $30,000 to help him win his seat on the bench. A similar donation from Hayashi to Starosciak would likely put her on even footing with Santos or create the possibility of exceeding his campaign coffers. Santos told The Citizen last week, he hopes to raise at least $80,000 for November’s election. According to end-of-year campaign filings, Santos’ $24,000 nearly doubled Starosciak’s take and included a $10,000 payment for Tramutola’s services. Many believe the total cost of the noted East Bay consultant is between $25,000-30,000.

In addition, the identity of the author of San Leandro Bytes also play a bit part in this story. Nowhere on the blog, does it mention the site is written by  Mike Katz, the current president of the San Leandro School Board and active member of the Stephen Cassidy for Mayor Committee. This clear conflict of interest does not refute the facts reported, which are derived entirely by public records, but the appearance of impartiality severely undermines a news article meant to be a proponent of open government.

In a quite handy article last week, Katz posted campaign finance filings from various San Leandro politicians, but did not include any mention of his own. This is like Fox News President Roger Ailes directly benefiting from trashing a Democrat when he has direct ties to the Republican National Committee. Just saying.


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