Almanac

News - November 3, 2010

Election 2010: Helping hands for Menlo council candidates

• What assistance must be reported?

by Sandy Brundage

Menlo Park residents spotted precinct walkers handing out fliers supporting three candidates for City Council along with "Yes on Measure T" doorhangers, and finding similar literature in their mailboxes, during the final week before the Nov. 2 election. That assistance wasn't disclosed on anyone's campaign finance reports, however.

Developer David Bohannon hopes to see the ballot measure pass so he can build Menlo Gateway, a nearly 1-million-square-foot office-hotel complex, on property he owns east of U.S. 101.

"We did not believe we had to report this since our campaign workers' principal mission was to distribute Yes on T literature, and the other literature was added on," said Bohannon spokesman Patrick Corman. "We now have been advised otherwise and are preparing an amended financial statement, which we will file this week as soon as we have all the information we need."

The three candidates most enjoying the generosity of the Bohannon coalition's support are Mayor Rich Cline, Councilman Heyward Robinson, and Planning Commissioner Kirsten Keith, who all support Measure T.

"I knew they were dropping fliers for candidates so I gave them some of mine. I haven't talked with them directly," Mr. Cline said. He recalled the workers asking for fliers around the first week in October.

Mr. Robinson said the workers "have been doing this for most of the campaign." One of the workers handed him a stack of fliers on Saturday that included Mr. Cline's, Ms. Keith's, and even one for Peter Ohtaki, who also supports Measure T.

"We will will certainly amend our 460 [finance report] if necessary," the councilman said.

The last campaign finance report covered donations and contributions through Oct. 16. Contributions or expenditures of $1,000 or more after that date must be reported within 24 hours, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. In-kind donations must be reported by recipients within 48 hours from the time received, but volunteer services aren't reportable.

Mr. Bohannon had thrown $475,000 at last report into funding the campaign to support Measure T, with at least $14,864 dedicated to a series of mailers attacking the one candidate who vocally opposes Menlo Gateway, Chuck Bernstein.

What about the other campaigns? The "No on Measure T" crowd confirmed that their literature had sometimes accompanied Mr. Bernstein's fliers.

"All are volunteers; none are paid," said Patti Fry, one of the organizers behind the effort to defeat the measure. "That's the way grassroots campaigns have been done forever. If someone were normally paid and donated their time, then that should be reported. If someone were donating legal time, or better yet, an office that would normally be rented out. Feet on the street? No."

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