ALAMEDA: After complaint, group behind special election initiative reveals who’s funding their campaign

Two days after an Alameda resident filed a complaint this week with the Fair Political Practices Commission that the group behind a ballot measure set for an April special election failed to disclose who is funding their campaign, they filed not one, but two finance reports.

In late April, Friends of Crab Cove began their campaign to ask voters whether to block a planned $40 million wellness center for end-of-life seniors and the homeless on McKay Avenue, and instead use the parcel for open space.

Despite a public signature-gathering campaign shortly after, the group did not file a campaign finance report with the FPPC before the June 30 mid-year period. A second end-of-the-year FPPC report was to have been publicly disclosed at the end of this month.

But the group, perhaps facing criticism over a lack of transparency, filed both finance reports on Wednesday. The filings show Friends of Crab Cove raised $25,944 in contributions for the entire year, while spending $24,855, for a total cash on hand of $1,058 through Dec. 31.

A vast majority of the money was fronted by real estate interests. Two contributors, also listed as the owner of Neptune Properties, gave Friends of Crab Cove a total of $14,500 in donations.

The bulk of the group’s expenditures involved funding a paid signature-gathering campaign. Including the printing of the petition, the total cost tallied $19,461.

Former Alameda Councilmember Barbara Thomas, a member of Friends of Crab Cove, received $1,250 for legal work, according to the filings.

Last week, the Alameda City Council decided to call a special election for April 9 that is estimated to cost taxpayers between $580,000 and $730,000 to conduct.

While several councilmembers urged Friends of Crab Cove to rescind the ballot measure certified in December by the Alameda County Registrar’s Office, they argued the potential costs associated with delaying the McKay Avenue project would be far more costly because of penalties to the lessee of the parcel and even potential lawsuits.

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