Hayashi’s Hayward Billboard Shows Campaign Finance Creativity

ELECTION ‘12//ALCO SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 2 | Even as the Alameda County Board of Supervisors enacted limits on campaign fundraising last year, they never imagined a candidate with as many connections as Mary Hayashi.

A large billboard towering over Foothill Boulevard and B Street in downtown Hayward featuring Hayashi’s smiling visage is proving there are many ways around the county’s $20,000 fundraising limits.

The bright red billboard, although it may feature Hayashi, is not directly associated to her campaign for Alameda County District 2 supervisor. “’Please join me and California’s Teachers,’” the sign reads, instead. “Vote No on Prop 32.” Furthermore, the billboard references the ad is paid for by, “Building California’s Future, Mary Hayashi’s Ballot Measure Committee.”

Similar accounts are used by many members of the Legislature to support or oppose local and state ballot initiatives. Hayashi’s account listed over $14,000 in cash on hand, according to campaign finance reports ending Sept. 30. A late expenditure report filed last week showed a $6,500 contribution to Working Californians to Oppose Prop. 32 for a billboard last month. In addition, Hayashi filed a late expenditure report Oct. 18 from her 2010 Assembly account showing a transfer of $50,000 to her ballot measure account, the same committee that paid for the billboard.

An ordinance authored by Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty passed last year placed a $20,000 limit on contributions from a single committee or person. Many believed the impetus for the ordinance was to avoid another instance, such as Bill Lockyer’s $1.8 million transfer of fundraising in 2010 from his treasurer’s campaign account to his wife, Nadia Lockyer’s war chest. Critics, though, contend the ordinance was more geared to the board’s bid to ensure self-preservation by making it unlikely they would ever face a challenger with as much power in the future.

While there is nothing illegal about the transfers, they do speak to the volume of creative ways around local, state and federal finance laws. In this case, Hayashi can raise her profile among Hayward voters with the billboard purportedly supporting the no campaign against Prop. 32 while hinting at her aspirations for supervisor next month. Some of Hayashi’s critics lodged a similar complaint this summer alleging two mailers to her Assembly district constituents were really thinly-veiled attempts to use taxpayers’ dollars to reconnect with voters, many of whom overlap the county’s District 2 boundaries. One mailer trumpeted a seminar for seniors, while the other advertised a pet fair in downtown Hayward.

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