Sunday, June 1, 2008

22nd Assembly District Race: Plot Thickens with 11th Hour Slate Mailer

Like most Democrats in the 22nd Assembly district, my mailbox has been so crammed with campaign ads the past few weeks that I just toss them without even looking. Saturday was not different. 

I was about to send an Anna Song flier to join Caserta's and Fong's more elegant efforts -- sorry guys, putting it in an envelope still won't make me read it -- when something caught my eye on the cheesy slate mailer (one endorsing a 'slate' of candidates). It was not the portraits of Great Democratic Presidents that appeared to have been taken with the same camera that Brady used at Antietam. No, it was the following statement:

"Anna Song for State Assembly: Endorsed by Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan...."

Say what?

Last time I heard Pat Mahan had endorsed Dominc Caserta. I have calls in to both Mahan and Song to clarify this for me. In the meantime, I did some research.

The mailer came from an outfit in Burbank called Democratic Voters Choice, which, in 2005, drew the attention of reporters at the Daily Kos political blog for a deceptive mailer about ballot propositions. 

Turns out that Democratic Voters Choice is a slate mailer house apparently run by "campaign finance consultants" Durkee & Associates, which sells space on campaign mailers to anyone ready to pay --including special interest groups in sheep's clothing. What makes these pieces insidious is that they appear to be official party communications. 

Another thing about them is that candidates don't have to give permission for their names to used on them. So the one I got on Saturday listed all the Democratic candidates from Mike Honda down. But who paid for the piece is a different story -- and it ain't the Democratic party. 

The big money behind this piece is No on 98/Yes on 99 (the ballot measures on eminent domain -- 98 has the hidden rent control abolition provision) . You can learn more about this confab here. The other two candidates who paid to be on this piece are Lane Liroff (running for judge) and Anna Song.

Liroff spent about $6,700 to be on this mailer. However, I couldn't find any campaign finance filings for Anna Song in the CalAccess database -- no contributions, no expenditures. In fact Song's campaign doesn't appear to have filed anything.

So stay tuned as we try to find out if Pat Mahan's name is being taken in vain, and, how a campaign with no contributions and no expenditures on record buys a presence on space-for-hire political mailer.

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