Alameda County District Attorney Nancy
O’Malley speaking at the San Leandro
Democratic Club in February.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley says her re-election campaign will return contributions from a well-known Tri-Valley developer who was indicted last August for violating federal election campaign finance laws and, prior to that, was ordered to pay $650,000 in fines in late 2015 for falsifying environmental documents.

O’Malley received a total of $2,500 during the currentl election cycle from James Tong, the head of Charter Properties, one of the Tri-Valley’s most powerful land barons and contributor to many campaigns in the Tri-Valley area.

The last $500 contribution from Tong to O’Malley’s campaign came last August, just weeks before Tong was indicted for exceeding the maximum amount an individual can spend annually on a single candidate. Tong was accused of donating additional maximum amounts under the names of family members. An additional $8,500 in contribution in latter years is also part of the government’s claim.

The federal indictment did not name the campaign that received the illegal contributions, but the amounts, which were made during the 2012 election cycle, match contributions Tong gave that year to Eric Swalwell, at the time, a first-term Dublin councilmember running to unseat then-Rep. Pete Stark in congress.

When confronted about the contributions, O’Malley acknowledged she knows Tong and said her campaign would return the contribution.”I’m completely unaware of that, but I’m not going to accept it,” said O’Malley.

Tong’s connection to O’Malley’s campaign has been long-standing. He contributed a total of $1,500 in 2015, just months prior to Tong’s first brush with illegal activity. Another $500 check was written to O’Malley’s campaign in 2016. During the 2014 election cycle, when O’Malley ran unopposed, the campaign received $1,300 from Tong.

Last week, came a report that O’Malley received a $10,000 contribution from the Fremont Police Officers Association while her office was investigating the killing of a 16-year-old pregnant girl by two Fremont police officers. One of the officers involving in the shooting, Sgt. Jeremy Miskella, is also the president of the Fremont POA.

Pamela Price, O’Malley’s opponent this spring, slammed the contribution from the Fremont police union during a candidate’s forum last week in Alameda, and had similar criticisms reserved for the Tong contributions. “It’s the appearance of impropriety,” said Price. “You have to be mindful when you are standing for justice and where you’re getting your money.”

Tong and Charter Properties was found guilty two years ago for repeatedly skirting environmental protections at a proposed commercial development in Dublin. Tong was ordered to pay $650,000 in fines to the U.S. Department Game and Wildlife for forging $3.2 million in credits intended to offset environmental impacts at the development related to endangered species. Tong was also ordered to service one-year probation, in addition, to serving 100 hours of community service.