Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee title=
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee
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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

Three veteran political consultants -- two Democrats and one recovering Republican – are operating the independent expenditure committee on behalf of Das Williams that is now attacking Laura Capps in the mail and on radio, Newsmakers has learned.

Democrats Mollie Culver and Tyler Gibson, and GOP strategist Cory Bantilan, who works for the county as chief of staff to Supervisor Steve Lavignino, are raising the money and producing anti-Capps campaign materials and on-air messages that have appeared this week.

Capps, president of the SB school board, is challenging Williams, the incumbent supervisor in the First District. A key issue in the race has been Das's central role in crafting the county's controversial cannabis ordinance, and his past acceptance of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from those involved in the industry.

As first reported in this space, a mysterious new campaign committee called “Central Coast Residents Supporting Das Williams for Supervisor,” was registered with election officials late last month. The group is legally required to operate independently of Williams’s campaign.

The three consultants, each of whom confirmed their participation in the committee's operations, say that they believe Capp's repeated attacks on Williams's integrity to be unfounded and unfair, and decided to come together "organically," to hit back on his behalf.

Among other charges they make against Capps is that she is a "hypocrite" because her own fundraising in the current campaign does not conform with the limits and standards she has set forth in a campaign finance reform plan as the centerpiece of her challenge to Das.

"As expected, this PAC is doing Das’ dirty work," Lindsay Bubar, senior strategist for the Capps campaign, said in a statement emailed to Newsmakers. "Their first hit piece is full of lies, which, as he did at the debate last week, Das will try to distance himself from.  Except, he can’t."

Responded Das: "It is unfortunate that my opponent has felt that she needs to concentrate on attacking me and running a negative campaign," he said. "Our local politics was once civil and respectful and we should do all we can to promote and revive that ethic."

For those keeping score at home

Full statements from Bantilan, on behalf of the committee and from the Capps and Williams campaigns are below. 

The trio of consultants behind the independent expenditure committee form an intriguing, three degrees of separation alliance steeped in several decades of local politics and campaigns. They are:

  • Mollie Culver, a longtime Democratic strategist, has worked for countless local party politicians, including former legislator Jack O’Connell, Mayor Cathy Murillo, Rep. Salud Carbajal and Supervisor Gregg Hart (not to mention two stints with former Rep. Lois Capps, mother of Laura), and is a favored strategist for those who win the endorsement of the local central committee. She also was a key figure in passage of the disputed cannabis ordinance, meeting at various times with Williams and other county officials, testifying at public meetings and writing letters in her former role as an advocate for the Santa Barbara Cannabis Business Council. 

  • Tyler Gibson, a business associate of Culver’s, who works with her on campaigns and also served as the Organizing Director of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party. He is listed as the treasurer on filings of the “Central Coast Residents” independent expenditure committee, although he used his given name on committee documents, where he is identified as “William Gibson.”

  • Cory Bantilan, chief of staff to Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who worked closely with Williams in drafting the cannabis ordinance, during a time when the two elected officials were jokingly referred to around the county building as “the Doobie Brothers.” Bantilan has worked on a host of campaigns for Republicans, including the 2017 mayoral bid of ex-council member Frank Hotchkiss and is former executive director of the Santa Barbara Republican Central Committee.

Calling all Republicans

Much of the committee's messaging so far has aimed at the relatively small number of Republicans in the district. 

The radio ad is running on a local station that features conservative talk show programming and one brochure has appeared in the mailboxes of GOP-registered voters. Both portray Capps as an opportunist and an extreme left liberal, more risky for conservatives than Williams, who is described as "bipartisan," in contrast to the full-throated "progressive" label which he often affixes to himself.

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a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 08:36 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Das is being funded by numerous out of county Big Oil companies, Real Estate developers, & others not even remotely connected to the S.B. County at this time. They all want HUGE paydays all thanks to The #1 Doobie Brother, Mr. Weed himself, Das Williams. "Smoke 'em if ya got 'em!"

Zenyatta19 Feb 16, 2020 02:39 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Everyone seems to have forgotten that the BOS are non partisan positions. Local elections should not be marred by any political party. It is a sad state of affairs when it takes 150K to run competitively for a local office. Or when someone spends 120K to have a slate of their candidates take over a tiny water or sanitary special district. These positions used to be held by citizens who wanted to make a difference in their community. Now local elected officials are all bought and paid for by special interests. Special interests whose fate is determined directly by the decisions of our supervisors. This is a conflict of interest and clouds every decision with corruption. The local democratic committee decides who will be elected and to what office wether it be city council, BOS, state assembly etc... No one else has a chance. We are no different than what’s going on in Washington. Back room deals and corruption abound.

Flicka Feb 16, 2020 09:42 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

I think Capps just wants to jump in on the family tradition of going to Congress and this was her only open option for getting started. Too bad a probably decent Democrat with no experience has to attack another decent Democrat, who does a good job, for a leg up.

PitMix Feb 18, 2020 01:17 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

People were begging her to run because they knew they wouldn't get any help from Das in their fight against the weed industry. Without that, I don't think she would have. We will find out if enough people in the Carpinteria area have ties to the weed industry to keep him in office. Then we keep the status quo until Monique takes Salud's seat and everyone moves up one seat.

Alexblue Feb 16, 2020 11:16 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Yep. She's not running against Das because she has better ideas or experience, she's running because he is vulnerable on a single issue. Classic for people who want to climb the ladder to Washington to start on the School Board and look for any step up from there. We really don't need Washington insiders like Laura Capps bringing their nasty tactics here. Now if she actually had a campaign platform with fleshed out and realistic ideas on improving our community, yep, I'd vote for her. Sadly, she doesn't.

a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 09:28 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

While I am definitely NOT a fan of Das Williams, a quintessential political hack, the background info on Capps makes her even more unsavory IMO. From Jerry Roberts: "Capps has never won elective office — she was appointed to the school board — but has an impressive resume in Washington as a former speech writer for President Bill Clinton, communications director for Sen. Ted Kennedy and senior aide on John Kerry’s presidential campaign.” For me, anyone that could work for Ted Kennedy and try to help Kerry (the traitor to his fellow Vietnam servicemen and women) get elected as president obviously has her priorities and moral compass really screwed up. I won't vote for either of them.

a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 10:05 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

The campaign against John Kerry has long been discredited. The right wing group's (who attacked him for his military service) tactics are considered an example of a successful political smear campaign for its widely publicized and later discredited claims. Bringing this up as a pejorative against Capps doesn't help your arguments in the least.

a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 09:23 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

NewsPress Has two excellent articles in their Sunday opinion section, setting out who is giving what to whom. One titled 'Our Very Own Swamp" highlights the huge role played by the public sector union campaign donations (43%). Public sector unions have the most direct and immediate interest is who gets elected, because those are the elected officials who will be soon writing their paychecks, funding their benefits and granting them their perks. That is direct investment money - not really "campaign" dollars. The second article today is the Guest Opinion editorial which sets out more details about money flowing into the First District and Third District county races. Who is this ms Alice Gullaroo and why is she personally putting $50,000 into Joan Hartman's campaign? Key is don't let campaign marketing decide your vote. Put your own interests first as a county resident and taxpayer -not the interests of those intending to harvest paybacks for campaign cash invested.

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 02:03 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

SBLOCAL: You are entitled to whatever money is left in the account. That is as far as it goes. There is not some lockbox with your name on it with only your contributions in it earning interest and dedicated to only paying you when you retire. Understand what a Ponzi scheme is first, if you want to educate yourself about your future social security "entitlement". The only secure retirement plans are the government employee union negotiated pensions since they have the power to elect others to tax everyone else in order to make themselves whole. Now do you undertand why a million dollars is getting spent to be a pro-union vote on the county board of supervisors? On our very ballot in this upcoming election is a speciously named new school bond initiative "Construction and Modernization" that puts a bandaid on the fact teacher and educational employee union bargained for pensions have raided the schools budgets for themselves, and now they must add another tax on us to pay for basic school infrastructure upkeep. I suggest you are very deficient in your knowledge and understanding of what exactly is going on. For your own benefit, I would recommend a crash course about what you think is your social security "entitlement". And what reform to ensure its long term viability looks like. So when you hear politicos scream any social security reforms are cruel cuts, you can turn a deaf ear.. And, by all means get a thorough understanding of what it will take out of your pocket for years to come and your children's pockets and your grandchildren's pockets to cure the current unfunded public employee pension liabilities we are facing right now. 20 years ago promises were made, warning were ignored and now the pay-off for retiring baby boomer public pension holders is taking a huge bite out of local budgets. Do they deserve to get what was promised, in your name? So now you have to pay for it, as long as they keep drawing down their promised lifetime public employee pensions - they in fact are the sole retirement entitlement holders. You are not. Decades of progressive voting for public employees has become suddenly very regressive for the private taxpayer who are now their debt holders.

Byzantium Feb 17, 2020 01:46 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

PolitiFact: "The Congressional Budget Office predicts that spending as a percentage of gross domestic product for entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security will grow much faster than defense. Defense spending will also grow, but at a far slower rate. Here’s a chart we found from the CBO that illustrates that general point; the CBO includes other health programs in the top line in addition to Medicare: (Medicaid)....."

jqb Feb 17, 2020 01:01 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Entitlements are money you're entitled to. SS is an entitlement, but the word "entitlement" has been made a dirty word by bad faith right wingers. But the people drawing SS are not those who are contributing to it ... the payees contributed in the past, and that money went into the general fund. It's funny to talk about "the government's greedy paws" when SS is a government program ... one that right wing government haters want to destroy.

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 12:06 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

1:53 AM: Actually, it is the Democrats screaming "cruel cuts" every time the GOP attempts to reform entitlement spending - SocSecurity, Medicare and Medicaid being the primary drivers of the expanding national debt. Get on board and we can get this done. "Gutting the soul of our nation" I believe is the latest Democrat rallying cry against these entitlement cuts.

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 12:02 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

1:13AM: Track this editorial from the Orange County Register so you can get started exploring state and local public pension debt resources: "The economy has been booming over the last decade, which has provided local governments with a windfall in sales and property taxes. Despite the economic fat times, California cities have been complaining about their dire economic straits, with some of them even fearing insolvency unless something is done to change the financial trajectory. What explains this dichotomy? The answer is simple. The costs of public employee compensation, especially pension and retiree-medical benefits, continue to climb exponentially and are consuming ever-larger portions of local general-fund budgets. One need only look at the Transparent California website to get a sense of the eye-popping levels of pay and benefits....." NB: (Copy and paste the partial Orange County Register quote into your search engine and it will link you to the full article which presents other public pension resources.. Stanford Institute has been publicizing this data for years - also mentioned in the full editorial.) Glad to see you are interested.

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 11:52 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Library maintains copies of the NewsPress. Read the full articles in last Sunday's paper (Voices section 2/16/20) yourself for free. Lots of verifiable data to discuss. Voters should wonder why a elected $125K a year county seat would take nearly a million dollars in campaign cash in order to take its place.

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 02:51 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Are you trying to refer to Alice Gillaroo? I'm trying to find out what you're referring to. When I searched for "Alice Gullaroo" the name Alice Gillaroo, an employee of World Wildlife Federation came up first, then Alice Gillaroo who led fundraising for Rona Barrett's "Campaign for Golden Inn & Village." I guess the latter is who you meant?

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 02:36 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Would you be so kind as to supply links (I realize the paper has a pay wall) and tell us the titles and authors of these two articles? If they're nationally published/syndicated, we may be able to read these articles on another site. Or are they local authors like Andy Caldwell and Joe Armendariz?

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 01:13 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

This seems out of left field. But since you brought it up, the national debt has not been an issue since before the most recent federal tax cut was passed. The national debt has disappeared from the GOP agenda, on the national/federal level. As it does every time there's a Republican in office. How's that trickle down working out? You're simply raising the issue to highlight *public* employee pension debt. Please cite some sources so that I can check the state of California's and the nation's pension funds. -------------------------------------------- If the stock market is the best it's ever been and climbing, why are you so concerned? Shouldn't that solve our problems? True, I am fat with investment income, I thought these programs were too! So why worry, Alfred? --------------If climate change is one distraction, do you think there are others? Like the ones the president regularly tweets about?

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 01:55 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

I sure hope you're expressing this message to every senator, monthly. Especially those Republicans who used to be fiscally conservative! All the Republicans who care about debt stuff when the president is a Democrat. And add every Republican house member to your mail or call list.

a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 06:24 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Hartmann is some "public servant"; or else good help must be so hard to find: Joan Hartmann SUPERVISOR ELECTIVE (2018) TOTAL: $113,135.90 Regular pay: $73,689.28 Overtime pay: $0.00 Other pay: $11,136.94 Total pay: $84,826.22 Benefits: $28,309.68 Total pay & benefits: $113,135.90

jqb Feb 16, 2020 03:50 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

The swamp is corporate lobbyists and right wingers, not unions that represent working class people. Regardless of who Alice "Gullaroo" is (, Joan Hartman is an exemplary public servant.

a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 10:28 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

10AM: The data in these two News-Press articles comes from public election filings for each candidate. And bot encourage readers to visit the election reporting website themselves for verification. No bias there, unless a candidate is falsely reporting amounts and sources of campaign funding. One has to assume you have not read the NewsPress in a long time. I commend others to support our only local daily, which still gets delivered to your door step and judge the paper themselves today; and not from the wounded perspective of those who were let go over a decade ago. It is a shadow of its former self,, no question about that. But when most local print dailies have ceased to exist at all, kudos to the owner for her continued commitment to the survival of the print version of the Santa Barbara NewsPress. Thank you, Wendy McCaw.

a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 10:36 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

The public debt crisis is not over, nor has it disappeared from the GOP agenda. The numbers previously published are not propaganda. Time for Democrats to stop calling attempts to reform public entitlements, which drive most of this growing public debt crisis as "cuts", and do something about the massive unfunded public employee pension debts owed the largely Democrat supporting public sector work force. Public debt will swamp us long before any sea levels rise. Public debt is real - "climate change" is misused by the Democrats as a distraction.

a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 10:00 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

The SB New Press is a notorious right wing mouth piece. Believe any thing they say at your peril, as most of the "opinion" section comes straight from the owner's political philosophy -- anti union, anti - minority, pro tax cuts for the rich, pro development. For example, during the Obama administration, she ran a daily "budget buster" headline on the front page, showing how the U.S. was drowning in debt. The day the Republicans took over, the budget crisis was over and this bit of propaganda disappeared.

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 02:24 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

You make valid points, I recognize that. But do not tell me who best suits my interests. And don't ignore the biggest debt, the federal debt. Your post has no area boundaries, so my response won't either. And I don't pay much mind to those who pass off climate issues as "alleged."

a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 09:30 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Elected officials who dig in and tackle the huge unfunded public pension crisis that is devouring more and more of the count, city and school budgets every year, that is the candidate that best suits all our interests. Why do none of the candidates even talk about this? Why are voters not even asking about the public pension crisis -far more immediate than any alleged "climate change" crisis. Which in fact may be nothing more than a calculated distraction, to cover up the real unfunded public pension crisis. Every new tax initiative now goes to paper over the public pension short-falls. That is our crisis, folks. Every new "green" initiative demands new political slush funds and increased command and control over tax dollars, used now primarily to plug up the public pension holes.

a-1593865917 Feb 16, 2020 08:54 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

I’m embarrassed by my fellow Santa Barbarian ad hominem attacks against both candidates. You should Inform yourselves as to how each candidate has voted on issues of import to you, and vote accordingly. Personally, I have been very impressed with Das’s career protecting our environment and sound civic planning. Laura Capps, so far as School Board member was not effective in dealing with the impact the school shooting scares which have been so impactful to the children in our community, and has shown little initiative In addressing the shameful two-school problem plaguing SBUSD- one for Latino’s, and one for wealthy white kids - not a good plan for anyone in our community. BTW - I’m wealthy and white, and so are my kids.

a-1593865917 Feb 17, 2020 02:13 AM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Thank you. I agree. Me too. ----------------------------------------------------------------- I want to downsize, really. I can't yet afford to do so. Still recovering from the long passing and care of those whose house I inherited and grew up in. Why does one person live in it when 4 should? I don't know, no good reason. I have my own reasons and issues. Yes, I'm taking a long time to retire and recover because I can. Because I'm rich. But it's not right, it disturbs me, I want to further share it out. I'll get to it. At least my will is filed and my "children" are human service-focused non-profit organizations. I don't have the guts to go so far as to sponsor a refugee or adopt a child, but I know I'm helping people in real life and real time. As I downsize, I'll continue to support others, like EOPS students at SBCC. And continue to plan to not live as a veg or incompetently; to make sure I don't squander my money.

Alexblue Feb 16, 2020 04:59 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Sorry, but your understanding of the issue is literally zero. Aside from how developers make money, and they will make money, either building environmentally harmful suburbs, or creating infill in urban areas, the environmental cost of spreading out from cities is simply greater than creating housing through infill. That doesn't mean infill has zero environmental impact, just less. You're simply wrong.

Alexblue Feb 16, 2020 04:57 PM
Cast of Characters Behind Mysterious Pro-Das Anti-Laura Committee

Haha--Millenial. I'm not one. "More people on a given piece of land equals higher environmental degradation" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA No, you ignorant ninny, building new suburbs in open space further away from the places that people work eats up land with stupidly large houses with lawns and concrete while at the same time turning those people in to commuters. Please stop, you're looking so silly.


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