PORC has used questionable campaign tactics before, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to local voters that PORC is skirting state campaign finance laws to pass their deceptive Measure Q. I want to know, who’s really behind all their outside money?

It is a basic principle of disclosure that political campaigns don’t use intermediaries to conceal contributors’ identities from the public. But that’s what PORC is doing in its push for Measure Q. The unethical tactics they’re using to funnel outside money into our county show that their claims to be a “grassroots” organization are nothing more than a  front in support of the hidden agendas of those undisclosed donors. 

Records filed with California’s political watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, show that undisclosed money interests from outside San Benito County are now funding over 90% of PORC’s campaign on Measure Q. A violation of California campaign finance law? Voters have a right to know who these donors are and what they stand to gain.

Consider this: the political committee pushing measure Q has raised approximately $55,000. Of that amount, $51,000—that’s 93%—came from groups from outside our county that don’t disclose their donors. That means that not only do most voters not know what’s inside the over 35 pages of fine print in Measure Q, but very few San Benito voters can actually know for sure who’s funding it either.

It’s not merely unethical, but the California FPPC is very clear about this type of political shell game: it’s like money-laundering. The law requires that any group that receives a donation or donations over $2,000 must file as a multipurpose committee and disclose the source of their funds. But that’s not happening with Measure Q or its PORC backers.

Here’s the exact language from the FPPC: “the disclosure of donors provides voters with vital information on who is funding campaigns, increases transparency to deter actual or perceived corruption, and is an important means of gathering information to detect possible violations.”

According to the FPPC’s language, PORC’s  shell game tactics are unethical, may be illegal, and potentially conceal corruption. These concerns alone are reason enough to vote against Measure Q.

I understand that the FPPC has received formal complaints about PORC’s Measure Q fundraising, so maybe we can expect an investigation here? The FPPC is investigating this exact same tactic in other campaigns. A donor gives money anonymously to a “group.” Then that group turns around and donates it to a campaign. It’s deceptive politics-for-profit, and our county’s residents have a right to know before we vote: who’s profiting?

Even without the secret contributors, Measure Q is destructive enough on its own terms. It cuts millions of potential dollars from San Benito’s needed services and revenues, while allowing Hollister housing growth to run rampant. With a ballot measure this deceptive and destructive, voters have every right to question why there’s so much secrecy around Measure Q and who its sponsors really are. 

The Measure Q campaign may have also violated state disclosure requirements on its campaign materials by intentionally using very small print on all those Yes on Q signs, making it difficult for voters to know for sure who’s paying for them. Notice the pattern: secret donors, concealed sponsors. It’s pretty clear that PORC has something to hide about why it’s trying to pass Measure Q.

John Ferreira

San Juan Bautista

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