Election 2014: Menlo council campaign spending small change next to Measure M


Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had incorrect information about the amount of money raised by Councilman Rich Cline. He raised a total of $8,232, not $14,472.


Although it was field crowded with six candidates -- three seeking re-election to the Menlo Park City Council, and three newcomers -- the November election didn't see expenses anywhere near those by campaigns devoted to either side of the Measure M specific plan ballot initiative.

Final campaign finance reports were due to the city clerk's office by Feb. 2. Councilman Rich Cline, who was one of the three incumbents re-elected, was out of town and didn't submit his Form 460 on time. But he did submit it by Feb. 10.

Environmental Quality Commissioner Kristin Duriseti, who lost, did not initially turn in the required itemized list of donors and expenses for the period covered by the final report Oct. 19 through Dec. 24, 2014 but did by Feb. 4.

Of the five submitted reports, Kirsten Keith led the field, raising $21,222 over the course of her 2014 campaign, including $2,303 in nonmonetary contributions. Just $2,096 of that came in during the final period. Major donors included the California Real Estate PAC ($1,000), and the Carpenters Union Local 217 and Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 617 PAC ($250 each).

Ms. Keith, a criminal defense attorney, also got a $99 donation from Out Now Bail Bonds.

She spent $18,676 in total, mainly during the latter days of her campaign and primarily on costs related to literature.

In second was Peter Ohtaki, who took in $18,463, including $1,233 in nonmonetary contributions, and collected $6,905 of that during the final months. Major donors included himself ($1,800); the California Real Estate PAC and investor Lawrence Bowman ($1,000); the California Apartment Association PAC ($500); and local developer Jeff Pollock ($400).

He spent all of his warchest, primarily for mailing and printing expenses as well as $3,500 for campaign consultant Ryan Hatcher, based in Sacramento.

Former councilwoman Kelly Fergusson, who had attempted for the second time to regain a seat on the council and lost, raised $15,213 in total, with $195 in nonmonetary contributions in the form of a case of paper. Major contributors to the $3,846 she collected during the final reporting period included Susan Schneider and Catherine Wilson ($500); she also gave herself $1.

She spent $14,768, about half during the final reporting period, mainly for campaign literature and postage, and a $500 donation to "Yes on M," the committee advocating in favor of the specific plan initiative.

Planning Commissioner Drew Combs collected $9,516 in total, with $217 in nonmonetary donations. Eight first-time donors contributed to the $749 raised from Oct. 19 through Dec. 24, giving amounts ranging from $24 to $250 (from attorney James Madison). He had no money remaining in his campaign fund by the end of the final reporting period.

Finally, Ms. Duriseti raised $9,980 in total, including a $3,332 loan to herself and $50 in nonmonetary contributions. During the last reporting period, donors gave $750.

Her expenses used up her campaign fund. She spent $9,930 on postage, website design and campaign literature. Approximately 14 percent of her expenditures came between Oct. 19 and Dec. 24.

Rich Cline

Councilman Cline, who filed his report Feb. 10, explained that he was in New York on a business trip and didn't get the forms to the city clerk on time.

According to the figures on the form, which covers the period from Oct. 19 to Dec. 31, 2014, Mr. Cline did not raise any additional money, but he did spend $6,524, bringing his total expenditures to $14,763. He raised a total of $6,240 in cash and $992 in non-cash contributions. He also loaned himself $1,000, bringing his contribution total to $8,232, the lowest amount of money raised out of the six candidates for City Council.

The bad news for Mr. Cline is that there is a penalty for the late filing, albeit a paltry $10 per-late-day fine. The good news is the City Clerk Pamela Aguilar has decided not to levy the fine.

"A late filing is subject to a $10 per late day fine, but it is at the discretion of the filing officer whether to levy that fine," City Clerk Pamela Aguilar told the Almanac. "As the filing officer, I do not plan to levy that fine against Councilman Cline. He promptly notified me that he would file it upon his return and that's exactly what he did."

Joshua Alvarez contributed to this report.

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