Pasadena's proxy war?
Latest campaign finance reports highlight key differences between City Council candidates
By Jake Armstrong 02/10/2011
With less than four weeks until the March 8 Pasadena City Council and school board elections, big differences are emerging in the allegiances and alliances at play in races to fill three hotly contested council seats.
Campaign finance reports filed last week — the first in a series of disclosures prior to the election — suggest strictly nonpartisan Pasadena City Council campaigns may have become a proxy war for the larger political battle roaring across the nation, with longtime Democratic strategist Fred Register guiding campaigns for District 6 Councilman Steve Madison, District 4 challenger Jill Fosselman and Mayor Bill Bogaard, who is unopposed.
Conversely, Martin Truitt — the former head of the Pasadena Republican Club who strategizes for conservative candidates — is consulting for District 6 challenger Carolyn Naber, District 4 candidate Gene Masuda and District 2 Councilwoman Margaret McAustin, until it was confirmed McAustin was running unopposed, according to the reports, which detail candidates’ fundraising and expenditures from July 2010 to Jan. 31.
The reports also highlight the stark differences in where the campaigns find most of their money. Much of the $60,000 Naber’s campaign has collected came by way of large donors, with upwards of $20,000 coming from just four sources — $12,600 from IBM sales executive Nancy Campbell, $5,000 from USC Professor William Lindsey, $3,000 from One Colorado Investments LLC and $1,500 from local activist Nina Chomsky.
Madison, who had $50,000 at the end of the reporting period, loaned his campaign $20,000 to add to $1,000 from Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino and $5,000 from the Pasadena Firefighters PAC, which gave an equal amount to Councilwoman Jacque Robinson to help give her a sizeable cash advantage over challenger James Smith — nearly $22,000 to $972 — at the end of the reporting period.
The race to replace District 4 Councilman Steve Haderlein is shaping up into a big-money contest between Masuda, whose campaign is running on $16,000 remaining from a $110,000 self loan made four years ago, and Chris Chahinian, who loaned his campaign $26,000. Fosselman reported roughly $4,000 in contributions and candidate Allen Shay did not submit disclosure reports.
But beyond how much the candidates took in is how much some of them returned — and to whom.
Missing from the $14,458 McAustin’s campaign had on hand at the end of last month was a $250 contribution from developer David Worrell, whose company, SMV Technology Partners LLC, is developing a 45,0000 square-foot, mixed-use project at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Sierra Madre Villa. McAustin, who has sided with preservationists against a similar project on the other side of town, refunded the donation, the reports indicate.
Also absent from Bogaard’s $29,000 campaign fund is $1,000 contributions from Nelson Rising, who the LA Times reported “surprisingly” quit recently as chief executive of MPG Office Trust, which manages the 193,000 square-foot Plaza La Fuentes, and Palm Springs’ Harold Meyerman, lead director of the asset management firm Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. The reports show Bogaard did not return $1,000 contributions from Meyerman or Rising’s spouses.
The Rising family also gave a total of $4,000 to Robinson’s campaign.