Santa Clara Police Union PAC Spent $102,000 on 2016 Election, Majority of it From Developers
By Carolyn Schuk

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The 2016 Santa Clara political money story isn’t only Blupac, the mysterious San Francisco political committee. It’s the unprecedented level of donations to, and spending by, the Santa Clara Police Officer Association (POA) PAC.

As Santa Clara’s top campaign spender in 2016, the POA PAC made $102,000 worth of independent expenditures, according to financial reports filed with the City Clerk on Feb. 15. In 2014 the POA spent about a mere $4,000 to support the campaigns of former Mayor Jamie Matthews and Council Members Dominic Caserta and Patrick Kolstad.

Of the police union PAC’s $102,000 2016 war chest, $26,000 of it came from the union dues of police officers. The lion’s share–$65,000–came from developers and the California Apartment Association PAC, a developer PAC.

The money was spent on mailers attacking Police Chief Mike Sellers, Council Member Patricia Mahan, and unsuccessful Council candidates Ahmad Rafah, John McLemore and Mohammad Nadeem. The mailers endorsed Council Members Debi Davis, Teresa O’Neill and Kathy Watanabe, and unsuccessful Police Chief and City Council candidates Patrick Nikolai and Tino Silva, respectively.

With the exception of Citation Homes, all these developers currently have, recently had, or will soon have projects before the Council. De Anza Properties (John Vidovitch): $20,000; Prometheus Real Estate Group: $15,000; Citation Homes: $10,000; SummerHill Homes: $10,000; California Apartment Association PAC: $10,000

Prometheus also donated $150,000 to various Apartment Association PACs in 2016.

Although Related Companies didn’t participate in the PAC donations, the company’s executives–Kenneth Himmel (CEO Related Urban), Ken Wong (COO Related Companies), Scott Bourland (VP Related Companies), Bill Witte (CEO Related California), Steven Ross (Related Companies Chairman) and Barry Widen (VP Related Companies)–together donated $3,000 in $500 contributions to Tino Silva’s unsuccessful City Council campaign.

Developers didn’t return phone calls and otherwise declined to talk to the Weekly about their 2016 campaign participation.

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