PAC attack: New mailer hits Kayser challenger for missing paperwork

Ref Rodriguez

Ref Rodriguez

The battle of the political action committees is heating up.

A new mailer sent to voters in LA Unified District 5 accuses one of Bennett Kayser’s opponents in the March 3 board election, Ref Rodriguez, of failing to disclose personal financial information as required by law.

The mailer, paid for by the PAC for the teachers union, UTLA, comes two weeks after an anti-Kayser flyer paid for by a PAC for the California Charter Schools Association accused Kayser of taking positions on issues that were harmful to Latino students. Kayser supporters branded the accusation as “racist.”

The charter PAC responded to the new mailer in kind late today with a statement charging the teachers PAC with using “racial undertones” in its mailer by referring to Rodriguez by his full first name, Refugio.

“Dr. Ref Rodriguez has for decades used ‘Ref’ professionally,” the charter PAC said in a statement. “And while he is undoubtedly proud of his full given name, we are concerned that Kayser and his allies are using it as a campaign tactic in the same way President Barack Obama’s conservative opposition insisted on using his full name, ‘Barack Hussein Obama,’ as an attack in 2008.”

The charter group called on Kayser to denounce the mailer.

Continue reading

Runoff 2013: Slow Fundraising Start for District 6

Voters head to the polls in less than six weeks to decide the East San Fernando Valley District 6 School Board runoff between Antonio Sanchez and Monica Ratliff, but things are off to a pretty slow start when it comes to fundraising and spending.

In terms of direct campaign fundraising, Ratliff hasn’t raised any money at all since the primary election, and Sanchez has raised just $15,000 since early March.

As for the IE committees, the latest financial reports from the LA City Ethics Commission cover a time period between mid-February and April 6:

*UTLA-PACE, the teachers union’s political arm, received $237,000 in contributions, as well as $628,000 in “miscellaneous cash increases” but only has $73,000 left for the runoff because the union spent heavily in the weeks leading up to the primary. (See report here.)

*The Coalition for School Reform received $712,000 in contributions during the same time period. But it also spent heavily on the primary, so the Coalition has $230,000 in its account to spend on the District 6 election. (See report here.)

*And the Local 99 branch of the Service Employees International Union collected $398,000 between February and April. It has $261,000 to spend on the runoff. (See report here.)

In terms of spending, outside groups including the Coalition for School Reform and the LA County Federation of Labor spent almost $1.3 million to support Sanchez in the primary, but they have spent only $66,000 on him since then.

LA School Report will keep track of campaign spending and will update you with more up-to-date numbers as we get them.

April 11 Next Disclosure Date for Independent Committees

Now that the dust has started to settle around last week’s LAUSD Board primary election, you might be wondering what outside spending groups have in store for the May runoff election for the District 6 (East San Fernando Valley) Board seat.

However, it may be awhile. The Coalition for School Reform and UTLA-PACE won’t have to report contributions or expenditures again until April 11, when the next round of pre-election reports will be due at the LA City Ethics Commission. UTLA-PACE, which is a longstanding general purpose committee that is active throughout different election cycles, doesn’t have to provide updates until it begins spending, so we may have to wait until after April 11 to see its reports.

Previous posts: Union Schedules Special Session To Reconsider Endorsements; School Board Primary Averaged $55 Per Vote

Westside Teachers Dial for Zimmer

Grand View Elementary teacher Irene Perez making calls at Carrow’s

About 20 teachers sat down in the back room of a Carrow’s restaurant in Santa Monica last night making phone calls reminding registered voters to vote for UTLA-backed District 4 incumbent Steve Zimmer.

Volunteers were given cell phones, a list of phone numbers and were allowed to order a meal for up to $10 plus a drink (no alcohol though). The goal: call voters to remind them to vote.

“I wanted to see if you’ll join us in helping to elect Steve Zimmer tomorrow,” a tentative Grand View Elementary teacher Irene Perez said into the phone, as her son Kingston ate from a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Continue reading

Campaign Consultants Win — Either Way

While no one yet knows who will ultimately win the three contested School Board races, there are already some big winners among campaign consultants (who get paid no matter what).

As you can see below, big money has been flowing out from independent expenditure committees and campaigns to consultants who specialize in mailers, TV ads, and field work — as well as pollsters who tell the campaigns how they’re doing.

Meanwhile, there’s more money coming in all the time. Yesterday, Michelle Rhee announced a $250,000 contribution to the Coalition.  Union sources tell LA School Report that the two state teachers unions and the American Federation of Teachers will announce contributions to UTLA-PACE today or tomorrow. Continue reading

D4 Challenger Anderson Rebuts Union Attack

Kate Anderson

As we reported here last week, the union independent expenditure committee called UTLA-PACE has sent out a campaign mailer to attack LAUSD Board candidate Kate Anderson, who is challenging incumbent Steve Zimmer in the Westside/Hollywood’s District 4.

But according to Anderson, the claims being made are “completely misleading:”

The mailer scrutinizes Anderson’s attendance record while she served on the LA County Child Care Planning Committee and accuses her of running for the School Board simply because she’s angling for a higher political office.

According to Anderson, however, her husband Peter often showed up at the meetings in her stead – a common practice. The mailer also neglects to mention that the attendance of other members at Committee’s meetings was similarly inconsistent. “For me, it was a volunteer work. I was serving on the committee as a parent, while also working at my law firm,” Anderson said.

As for the claim that she’s not dedicated to education issues? “The idea that I’m not committed to kids to ludicrous,” Anderson said.

Previous posts: UTLA-PACE Attacks District 4 Challenger Anderson; Outside Spending Tops $2 Million, Grows Negative; Attack on Zimmer Wasn’t from Anderson Campaign

Update: Outside Spending Tops $2 Million, Grows Negative

The latest independent expenditure (IE) committee numbers posted on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission website show an eye-popping $2.2 million in spending by outside groups thus far.

That number is sure to grow in the next two weeks before the March 5 primary election date.

The messaging has already gone negative in the more contentious races in District 2 (East LA) and District 4 (Hollywood to the Westside), and given past experience, it’s possible that the mailers and advertisements will become even more negative in upcoming days.

Continue reading

UTLA-PACE Attacks District 4 Challenger Anderson

An election mailer sent out this week by UTLA-PACE is just the latest negative entry in the high-stakes LAUSD election.

Image of Kate Anderson from UTLA-PACE mailer

UTLA-PACE’s new mailer targets candidate Kate Anderson, who is running against LAUSD Board incumbent Steve Zimmer for a seat representing the Westside and Hollywood’s District 4.

Among other things, the mailer accuses Anderson of wanting “to use school board as a path to higher office,” and criticizes her for missing a high number of meetings when she served for three years on the LA County Child Care Planning Committee. Click here to see the front and back of the mailer.

The 2013 LAUSD Board races are getting ever-closer to breaking $4.5 million school board election spending records. As LA School Report has noted, negative ads have already begun and could increase in the next two weeks. The Coalition for School Reform launched a television ad that accuses Zimmer of being unsupportive of the arts. The UTLA-PACE website blames District 2 incumbent Monica Garcia for budget cuts and layoffs.

Previous posts: Coalition TV Ad Attacks Zimmer over Robert Kennedy School; UTLA-PACE Spends, Bloomberg Donates; Attack on Zimmer Wasn’t from Anderson Campaign

Update: UTLA-PACE Spends, Bloomberg Donates

New independent expenditure (IE) numbers posted late yesterday on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission website show a spike in spending on behalf of supported candidates, including $138,000 spent by UTLA-PACE, the political arm of United Teachers Los Angeles, the first such spending that’s been posted.

In the meantime, the Coalition for School Reform has just announced a $1 million contribution from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Mayor Bloomberg is the most important voice in education reform today,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a Coalition press release. “It is an honor to have his support, and we deeply appreciate his willingness to invest in our students’ futures here.”

District 2: This race in downtown LA could top records when all is said and done. So far, City Ethics reports that UTLA-PACE has spent $51,000 against LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia. Garcia herself has lots of outside help: the Coalition for School Reform has spent $251,000; SEIU has spent $71,000, and the LA County Federation of Labor spent $44,000, for a total of $366,000 on her behalf.

District 4: The biggest combined spending is in this Westside race, where incumbent School Board member Steve Zimmer faces an expensive challenge by Kate Anderson. According to City Ethics, UTLA-PACE has spent $86,000 on direct mailers and phone banking to support his reelection bid. He’s the only candidate who is getting combined union backing: in addition to UTLA, SEIU Local 99 has spent $87,000, and the LA County Federation of Labor has spent $42,000, for a total of $215,000 of outside money on his behalf. His opponent, Kate Anderson, is also getting big help from the outside: the Coalition for School Reform has spent a total of $269,000 to boost her race.

District 6: Outside money in the East San Fernando Valley race centers on one candidate, Antonio Sanchez, who has gotten help from the Coalition for School Reform to the tune of $280,000, with SEIU kicking in $69,000 and the LA County Federation spending $44,000 for a total of $393,000 on his behalf. Sanchez and his two opponents, Monica Cano and Maria Ratliff, have all been endorsed by UTLA, but so far, the City Ethics website has not reported any spending by UTLA-PACE in this race.

Previous posts: District 4 Candidates Air YouTube Ads, Schedule Appearances; Coalition, SEIU, County Fed Spend on Candidates; UTLA Focus: Defend Zimmer, Defeat Garcia

Clerical Error Accounts for Disclosure Discrepancy*

LA School Report has learned that the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission is at fault in an election disclosure discrepancy reported here earlier today. According to the Commission, due to human error, the City Ethics site did not make public independent expenditures (IEs) made by the teachers union political arm, UTLA-PACE, for LAUSD school board candidates.

Late today, a city official from the Ethics Commission called LA School Report to say that UTLA-PACE had in fact disclosed its IE spending to the Commission on time, but due to a clerical error, the paperwork was not filed properly at the Commission.

According to election disclosure laws an independent expenditure committee must report spending made on behalf of candidates within 24 hours, and requires the information is made public on the City Ethics website.

How much money has UTLA-PACE spent to help candidates? All we know for sure is that the numbers reported today by the LA Times (read here), and reported on our site (read here) last week are rendered inaccurate. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see.

*Update: An earlier version of this post directly quoted the Ethics Commission when it should have been a paraphrase; the post has been corrected.

UTLA-PACE Spends Undisclosed Amount for Zimmer

LA School Report has learned that the teachers union’s political arm, UTLA-PACE, has sent a direct mail piece on behalf of a Westside District 4 candidate, Steve Zimmer, in what appears to be its first election expenditure. The mailer is notable because UTLA-PACE is expected to spend big on behalf of UTLA-backed school board candidates, but it hasn’t yet disclosed any campaign activity. The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission confirmed today that no disclosures had been filed.

To comply with city election law, committees that make independent expenditures (IEs) on behalf of candidates must file disclosure papers within 24 hours if an expenditure meets or exceeds a cumulative total of $1,000. This mailer may not have pushed UTLA-PACE to its spending threshold, though according to Ethics Commission records, mailers like this one are usually costly.

UTLA-PACE has not yet responded for comment. We’ll let you know.

Click to view the front and back of the mailer.

Coalition Launches Pro-Garcia TV Ad

On Wednesday, the Coalition for School Reform launched a campaign ad in support of School Board President Monica Garcia, the District 2 candidate who is one of UTLA’s top targets in the March 5 election.

The announcement says that the ad will begin airing immediately.  This is the Coalition’s second TV ad. No word yet on exactly how much it’s spending on the media buy.

Previous posts:  Reform Coalition Launches TV AdsUTLA Focus: Defend Zimmer, Defeat Garcia

UTLA Defends Disclosure and Reporting

Over the weekend, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) Director of Communications Suzanne Spurgeon emailed us a statement about our Friday story on how UTLA has been reporting and spending its money so far in the LAUSD School Board campaign:

“To our knowledge PACE has reported expenditures in a timely and proper manner. If there have been any oversights, PACE will correct those.”

Previous posts:  What’s UTLA Going to Do With Its Money?UTLA-PACE: Website Now, Disclosure Later? Teachers Endorse Garcetti for MayorUnion Head Decries “Media Witch Hunt”

Campaign Coffers: What’s UTLA Going to Do With Its Money?

According to new documents unearthed by LA School Report (but not otherwise available online), the political action arm of United Teachers Los Angeles, called UTLA-PACE, has amassed a war chest of $671,000 and begun spending funds on polling and consulting.

However, UTLA-PACE has yet to deem any of its campaign spending as “independent expenditures,” which must be disclosed and posted online within 24 hours if they exceed $1,000, according to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.

Continue reading

Different Rules for UTLA-PACE

The latest campaign and independent expenditure (IE) committee disclosures are being released today, January 24th, but you won’t find anything there from one of the city’s most powerful IE committees, UTLA-PACE.

Why not? It’s because there are two different types of IE committees functioning in city-wide and LAUSD Board races —  ‘general purpose committees,’ and ‘primarily formed committees’ — each operating under a different set of disclosure rules.

UTLA-PACE is an example of the ‘general purpose” committee and as a result there’s much less information about its fundraising and who’s supporting its efforts. Continue reading

Update: Outside Money Pouring In

Semi-annual financial disclosure forms for independent expenditure (IE) committees aren’t due to the City Ethics Commission until January 31. However, some information can be obtained from the City Ethics Commission in between these reports.

For example, the Coalition for School Reform  — a group of advocates including (but not limited to) charter school proponents — raised $150,000 in the last few days, according to two late contribution reports (see reports here and here).

That leaves the Coalition with just under $300,000 cash on hand, since they ended last year with about $145,000 in the bank (see last semi-annual report here).

For comparison, the teachers union’s IE committee, UTLA-PACE, already had $634,901 in its campaign chest as of June.

This is just the latest reminder that, thanks to strong interest in the outcome of the race and no-limit contribution rules, IEs on both sides can raise and spend gobs of money for publicity, organizing, and  other campaign activities — likely eclipsing direct contributions to individual campaigns.

Additional reporting by Samantha Oltman

District 6: SEIU & UTLA Endorsements*

SEIU Local 99 has endorsed Antonio Sanchez for school board in District 6, which covers the East San Fernando Valley, according to a longtime politico.

The endorsement isn’t a huge surprise since Sanchez, a former employee of the LA County Federation of Labor, was always expected to be a union-friendly candidate. In addition to Sanchez, the three other candidates who have qualified for the March ballot in District 6 are Maria Cano, Monica Ratliff, and Ernie Cardenas, brother of the newly elected Congressman Tony Cardenas.

Meanwhile, UTLA is expected endorse all four District 6 candidates tonight at the House of Representatives meeting. The union’s split-endorsement strategy is likely a response two the most recent school board elections, in which the union was forced to withdraw support from two candidates after damaging information came to light about them (see LA TimesL.A. teachers union withdraws support for two school board candidates).

*Update: SEIU Local 99 spokeswoman Blanca Gallegos called to tell us that the union hasn’t formally endorsed anyone yet, and that last night’s vote was simply “another step in the process” in which rank-and-file members vote on recommendations. The union leadership will make the final decision on Friday. Gallegos declined to say who the union membership voted to endorse.

Previous posts: UTLA Board Keeps Options OpenSignatures Due TomorrowMeet Maria CanoCandidates To Watch

UTLA-PACE’s Robust Campaign Chest

As the 2013 race for three LAUSD School Board seats heats up, so will the political fundraising that pays for the candidates’ campaigns. Just as they have in recent elections, independent expenditure (IE) committees are again likely to eclipse direct donations to candidates’ campaigns.

At least one IE committee is ahead of the game: UTLA-PACE, the political action council of the teachers union. While the latest number won’t be available until the next filing deadline in January, as of June 30th, UTLA-PACE already showed $634,901 in its account.

Continue reading