3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

In a complaint to the state's political watchdog agency, a prominent Santa Barbara attorney accuses District 4 city council candidate Barrett Reed of accepting thousands of dollars in campaign contributions exceeding the legal limit from downtown real estate mogul Jim Knell.

With a state-established limit of $4,900 on individual contributions, Knell contributed $12,000 to Reed on a single day, June 21, obscuring the source of the money by funneling it from eight separate limited liability companies, limited partnerships or other business entities which he controls, according to the complaint to California's Fair Political Practices Commission and campaign finance documents.

Knell "has donated more than allowed, and has hidden his contributions by identifying them as contributions of his alter­egos or entities that he controls. He is nowhere identified in the (campaign finance reports) and no one is identified as responsible for making eight contributions, each for $1,500, totaling $12,000, on the same day from his related entities," according to the complaint, filed by attorney Janet McGinnis.

McGinnis, a veteran government affairs lawyer in Santa Barbara and beyond, has contributed $750 to the campaign of Reed's rival, incumbent council member Kristen Sneddon.

According to a copy of the complaint, Reed and his campaign treasurers engaged in "a pattern and practice to eschew due diligence and basic requirements" in their campaign filings. It cites major contributions from eight additional business contributions, not tied to Knell, which identify a company only by name, without disclosing "the name of the managing member or person responsible for authorizing these contributions," as required by law.

Last night, Barrett emailed us a response, noting the McGinnis contribution to Sneddon and calling the complaint "a smear of my successful campaign" that reflects "the fear and desperation of a failing councilmember that has no better strategy to win," while adding, "it is next to impossible for me to know who owns every business that has supported and contributed to me."

However, Reed added, "I have returned the funds in question," referencing the eight Knell-linked contributions."

Knell did not respond to Newsmakers' request for comment.

It is worth noting that Knell's network of business entities also made sizable, single-day contributions to the mayoral campaigns of Randy Rowse and Deborah Schwartz and the District 6 council campaign of Nina Johnson, campaign finance statements show.

As a practical matter, the FPPC now will examine the complaint to determine if a full investigation is warranted; if so it will decide, in due time, if state campaign finance law has been violated and if fines should be levied against Reed, Knell and/or the campaign treasurers.

As a political matter, 21 days before Election Day, the complaint may hand Sneddon a cudgel with which to bash Reed's integrity and attack him as a tool of real estate interests - as well as a weapon to perform political ju-jitsu to offset his substantial fundraising advantage over her.

Caesar non supra grammaticos.

Another fine mess

Speaking of fines, some longtime political observers were agog at the swiftness and severity with which acting City Administrator Rebecca Bjork brought the hammer down last week, imposing $10,800 in total fines on five lollygagging candidates who failed to report campaign contributions in a timely fashion, an offense that normally falls far short of a political felony.

Some local commenters on Edhat even went so far as to spin a weave of intrigue, speculating that Bjork acted to aid the campaigns of incumbent Mayor Cathy Murillo and District 6 council member Meagan Harmon, as their chief challengers, Randy Rowse and Nina Johnson, incurred the largest fines by far.

To which we say: Bushwah.

Bjork enjoys a well-earned reputation as a straight arrow by-the-book type. If there was any political calculation in her action, it more likely would stem from the fact that Johnson is running for council while still holding a high-level City Hall job; had Bjork not gone letter-of-the-law on Nina, she would have been open to charges she was protecting a fellow city employee; once she went after Johnson, the biggest scofflaw, she had to do likewise with all the others, down to Deborah Schwartz, who got dinged a grand total of 40 bucks.

All that said, inquiring minds want to know how the city determined that $10 per day per late reporting violation was the correct amount. As noted by the eagle-eyed Christian Alonzo, he of the local Young Democrats club, Santa Barbara's Municipal Code, Title 2, Chapter 2.03.110, Section E, clearly calls for a daily fine of $25:

Late Filing Penalties

In addition to any late filing penalties that may be imposed for the late filing of a paper copy pursuant to the California Political Reform Act or to other provisions of this chapter, the person who fails to comply with the online filing requirement of this section shall be subject to an additional late filing penalty of $25 per day per applicable contribution or expenditure after the deadline for the filing of the online copy. (Ord. 5612, 2013; Ord. 5423, 2007).

We asked City Attorney Ariel Callone for clarification, and he emailed us back, saying that the $10 amount is the amount prescribed in the state Political Reform Act, which governs most campaign finance matters in California:

"We applied the Political Reform Act of 1974, rather than the City's ordinance," he said. "Administrative discretion."

Now you know.
 

(Photo: SB Talks)

Daraka Bigfoots Darcel

Doing what he does best, erstwhile local Democratic Party poohbah Daraka Larimore Hall ran his mouth this week, demonstrating in a single interview why so many people are fed up with the stranglehold Dem apparatchiks have on City Hall.

A former local party chair and former state party vice-chair, Daraka suffered an embarrassing loss a few years ago in a failed bid to become state party chair, winning six - 6, count 'em, 6 - percent of the vote at the party convention -- and an even more humiliating defeat this year, when he was voted out of state office entirely.

Now he's apparently got plenty of time once again to flap his gums about local matters, and his special brand of toxic politics was on full display during a 50-minute appearance on Josh Molina's podcast, SB Talks, as he flung ad hominem insults at politicians, reporters and other who dare to disagree with him (Randy Rowse is a "chucklehead," Newsmakers a "gadfly...with no political base" and Laura Capps "wasted everyone's time and money running against Das Williams"); expressed contempt for the business sector; and evinced utter blindness to the 73 percent of city voters who cast ballots for someone other than Cathy Murillo four years ago. and thus opposed Democratic Party platform policies being insinuated into City Hall on behalf of their cronies in the labor movement.

His most odious words, however, came on the subject of the Independent's endorsement of Murillo rival, James Joyce, a Black man whom Daraka portrayed as running on "hopey changey innovation" and a tool of "liberal white racism," as he slimed the Indy for an alleged business-interest decision to "divide people of color."

"This other guy," he said at one point, referencing James and the Independent's alleged take on him, "he's so articulate and clean and he's got charisma and blah, blah, blah and, um, that sucks. I mean it sucks for James, it sucks for everybody."
 
Calling the newspaper's endorsement, which gave new life to Joyce's flagging campaign, "a master work of vapid prose and just like saying nothing," he said the Indy's editorial served to "pit candidates or people of color against one another to get white votes. And then that game becomes - how do we convince those white voters who's the least threatening?"
 
(He also charged that the Independent "has been against every healthcare reform that would require them to pay health care insurance for their own employees," which is simply a lie, etor in chief Marianne Partridge told Newsmakers: "Of course we do," pay a portion of employee insurance, she emailed, "and we have from the second or third year of our existence." But we digress).

"It's just becomes an absurd oppression Olympics nonsense, like because there's been too many Mexican Americans on the Santa Barbara City Council, so now we've got to replace that one with a black person," Larimore-Hall railed during the interview.

"What is (sic) James Joyce's policies regarding police accountability?" he said at another point. "Like what's his record on, or is it really just a skin color? It's like he's experienced as a black person that we want in that position that will, what? And how is that gonna translate into the policy?"

He added that Joyce's election "is not going to keep one black person from being murdered by a cop."

Oy.

POWER RANKINGS

The obvious winner of the Independent's big mayoral debate last week was executive editor and star columnist Nick Welsh, who isn't on the ballot but oughta be. As for the six candidates who actually are running, here's how we ranked the performances.

1-James Joyce. Throughout the evening, James was the candidate of optimism, saying the city was "on the precipice of a boom" and extemporizing on policy details like putting "rooftop solar on parking garages." He stood up against bike freak Welsh over bicycles on State St., and his closing statement on his potential as a change agent, was the best two minutes of his campaign.

2-Deborah Schwartz. Deborah's just-the-facts style may have growing appeal for ABC (Anybody But Cathy) voters who don't like the idea of dumping a woman mayor, and In the face of Nick's obvious crush on the proposed, controversial St. Mary's seminary homeless center, she was fearless in opposition, noting fire safety issues and angry resistance from neighbors.

3-Randy Rowse. Randy mailed this one in, mostly repeating familiar talking points - homelessness, it seems, "is not a simple problem with a simple solution" - but his emphasis on the importance of non-partisanship in city government and nuts-and-bolts issues like preparing for natural disaster may attract independent-minded homeowners just tuning into the race.

4-Cathy Murillo. Mayor Cathy at one point complained that "the pandemic took away the fun of being on City Council (like) going to luncheons" -- awww -- and confirmed criticism of her as a bought-and-paid for shill for city labor unions (whose contracts she votes on) in saying "we are still talking to the public employee unions" when asked why the city, unlike almost every other local public agency, does not yet have a vaccine mandate.

5-Mark Whitehurst. Publisher Mark's best moment came when he said the lack of a city vaccine mandate was "irresponsible" and "unconscionable," while all the major contenders except Joyce dithered on the issue, and he rolled out his fourth Zoom backdrop of the campaign, but we're still trying to figure out why he's running.
 
6-Matt Kilrain. Sorry but this guy is a public health menace, and his unhinged ranting against masks and vaccines ought to earn him a dis-invitation to every future campaign forum.
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Byzantium Oct 14, 2021 03:33 PM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

Tired of the Democrat machine destroying our town. Same people. Same failures. Same dirty tricks. C'mon man, the late filing smear was calculated with an oh so "innocent enquiry" letters to the editor first, from a well known female Democrat machine pooh bah. Bjork had nothing to do with this clearly fake innocence political set up. This is just the Democrats typical partisan last minute smear campaign in full operation again, but we see through them this time - they reek of desperation to hang on to power and the purse.

a-1634253868 Oct 14, 2021 04:24 PM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

This is fun. Taking potshots at Edhat commentators who speculate that Bjork may be playing for the home team seems odd. But at least our valiantly aggressive commentator notes at the end that the amount of the fine was a pretty small hit compared to the city's own rules. The absurd dodge that state law of 1974! is the relevant measure is laughable. What did you pay for your traffic ticket in1974? And does the City Attorney now think that the city had no right to pass its own law on the subject...if so has he advised the city to undo that statute? But the biggie here is the corrupt contributions to the business candidates. Enough to push the public to the other folks who actually have the interests of the voters, not the commercial operatives in mind.

Bird Oct 15, 2021 12:18 PM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

Totally agree, re Daraka; a Dem, I was disgusted with what he said and how he said it. He pushed me to reread the Indy endorsement and very likely to vote for Joyce, although I am not too likely to vote for anyone who has spent professional time in Sacramento. (Hope Bennett remains unscathed, but his non-vote on SB 9 ( and 10) was more than disappointing.)

Daraka reminded me of Mitch McConnell, same black/white close-mindedness. Hope he's not teaching at SBCC or anywhere where students are learning to think for themselves.

Luvaduck Oct 15, 2021 07:43 AM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

Byzantium, I disagree with some of your perspectives, but couldn't agree more with your first 2 words, "Tired of". I am thoroughly sick of commentators, any political persuasion, using smary smear tactics. Their very voice & delivery for name-calling and nasty slurs is such that they deserve to be slapped silly. When I scan through stations, at their first bray, I move on. The whinge teenagers use to get into fights over being "dissed" means what they're saying is irrelevant to serious consideration.

allears Oct 15, 2021 12:33 PM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

Good Day to All! To keep from using bad language and my grandmother from rolling over in her grave - the nicest thing I can say right now about the local Democrat Party - based upon what I am hearing and seeing - is that it has lost it's way and is not upholding the principles of democracy. Control through exclusion and manipulation is not a good path. Everyone in the community is needed and deserves to be heard - regardless of party affiliation. One never knows where and from whom a good idea might come from. And, speaking of openness, I question how our current 6th District councilwoman came into office - through appointment by a democrat majority council. The circumstances were created by the person formerly in that 6th District seat and who is now a County Supervisor. At the time this happened, I was surprised, and disillusioned - to say the least. It was a "who knew?" moment. The intention to vacate the council seat and to move up to the BOS could not have been a last minute decision. One can only conclude that the switches were pre-arranged to ensure party control using a technically legal move. Meanwhile, the current appointed 6th District Councilwoman seems very politically motivated in my eyes and has supported and made the motions for approval of a number of actions that are problematic at best. So I have to wonder why? Was it for political gain in an election year?Every single issue is vastly complex (Mission Canyon Bridge and ADA required pedestrian access, Hero Pay, El Zoco, Storefront Vacancies, Housing, Homelessness - to name a few). All the issues come with politics should not be the guiding factor. Good leadership is not easy and requires a small ego, collaborative teamwork, thoughtful and respectful listening skills, the ability to accept expert guidance, to represent and consider all interests and to find the common ground - politics aside. Our leaders must be selected through a process of full and fair election that includes the voices of the entire community - not a manipulated system to guarantee control by any one party or interest. The sole purpose of our collectively elected leaders and our city employees is to serve all of the community and all of the interests - all are essential elements.
I believe that we changes to the way we, our leaders, and our city employees think and act, and we need to do it now.

a-1634377234 Oct 16, 2021 02:40 AM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

It is rare to see such a long post on Edhat.
Hitting "return" to make paragraph indentations DOES work now. "it has lost it's way" would be "its way". "All the issues come with politics should not be the guiding factor" is awkward phrasing.

Excuse me for being paranoid, but some of your post seems scripted.
And that last sentence, the most ungrammatical one, screams out that this is an unread, unedited, unreviewed post: "I believe that we changes to the way we, our leaders, and our city employees think and act, and we need to do it now." I don't know about you, but I correct my typos and re-read several times before I post a long statement that *should* be thought out.

Sorry. I just find it hard to trust anything these days.

AwareHuman Oct 15, 2021 12:40 PM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

Sadly, the tenants who live in housing/apartments owned by an infamous "big gun" in town must suffer Nina signs our lawns/hedges in the 6th district. That is an egregious grab of our First Amendment right. And, it's so darn ostensible who she will support, and it surely is NOT the inhabitants of our district, or the city at large! Am glad she has been outed and fined. WE need this crucial disclose sure of funding, verifying what so MANY of us suspected. It is no smear to disclose or to fine the nefarious. Now, if we could only get those offensive signs out of our yards! State law, BTW, is vague on who prevails on this issue...
Supreme Court needs to weigh in.

Byzantium Oct 15, 2021 05:13 PM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

Aware, Become an owner, not a renter. Take on the burden of paying property taxes, and appreciate the rights of those who do fund city operations do have a dedicated interest in election outcomes. Make sure your next rental agreement protects your "first amendment rights". However, renting does make you a permissive occupant of this particular plot of land. Negotiate for this contingency next time. There are plenty of ways to support your own favored candidate than worrying about yard signs on property you do not even own.

a-1634345655 Oct 15, 2021 05:54 PM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

From what I know of Johnson, she will be very supportive of District 6 residents; although a Democrat, she's not aligned with any Party organization and seems open-minded. ("Seems" because I've only listened to her and the other candidates.) The incumbent spoke before she was appointed of being there for all but, once appointed, has been an alter ego of Daraka Larimore-Hall.

It's unfortunate for tenants to have to see signs for a candidate they don't like but they don't own the property outside their rental units, I think? The 1st Amendment protects against government overreach, not what landlords may do. Here in District 1, there are signs for Barrett Reed on the Mason Street Church property, owned by Ed St. George.

a-1634368564 Oct 16, 2021 12:16 AM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

Then one must put up their own signs, in their window if necessary. I'm a liberal -- I believe in free speech.

Check out THIS newest outrage:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/14/yale-law-school-party-invitation-trap-house/

Come on, all, you can read one free article. Just click the buttons to allow it.
"Liberalism" has become a mockery of itself in some quarters.

Byzantium Oct 16, 2021 12:37 PM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

It is okay to identify some of us as "conservatives", marcel. You use the RW (right wingers) label like it is a dog whistle slur. Finding the places in the middle where we can find agreement will go a long way, instead of only labeling and dividing.

This city's functionality is long past insults; it is time to seriously talk and share solutions. It is in a world of hurt right now - State Street the most egregious outward sign, but the growing malaise runs much deeper. Heal; not heel.

MarcelK Oct 16, 2021 02:52 AM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

"evinced utter blindness to the 73 percent of city voters who cast ballots for someone other than Cathy Murillo four years ago"

Maybe because that's a grossly dishonest framing ... she got considerably more than any of the other candidates running. 28% is pretty good in a 5-way race:

Cathy Murillo: 6,059 (28.1%)
Frank Hotchkiss: 4,669 (21.6%)
Angel Martinez: 4,213 (19.5%)
Hal Conklin: 4,196 (19.4%)
Bendy White: 2,447 (11.3%)

Byzantium Oct 16, 2021 11:14 AM
3 Tuesdays to Go: New Campaign Allegations Hit Reed, Developer Knell; Daraka Drones, Power Ratings

I see the combined "conservative" vote swamping Murillo; I see the combined "moderate" vote swamping Murillo. Forces for change are out there once they stop sabotaging their concentration on a single good candidate - the real shame is not getting honest broker Hal Conklin, due to this "liberal" vote-splitting that let Murillo slip in the side door. Was Bendy White's odd last minute entry into this race, that he previously claimed he would not enter, part of a more nefarious votes-splitting scheme to draw votes away from Conklin? Certainly the entry of outsider Angel Martinez destroyed Hotchkiss's chances, when the SB Chamber of Commerce yet again acted as a major election spoiler for the second time. First time was backing Cushman to take votes away from Francisco. This race was proof enough we need a primary election first, when the net result is the election of a candidate soundly rejected by the vast numbers of voters.

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