Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 20, 2016

Fact check: campaign contributions

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Another Jennifer Roloff fact check based on a not-so-subtle dig toward the other two candidates in attendance at the Alameda Peeps forum.  This came as a response to a question about outside money influencing Alameda elections.  I believe that the initial goal of the question was really to talk about the huge influence money from the California Apartment Owners Association has been in the M1 vs L1 rent stabilization initiatives, but Jennifer Roloff took this opportunity to announce that she wasn’t taking money from certain categories of people/groups:

I’m not taking contributions by special interest groups, by development groups, by anybody who does business with the City of Alameda.

I think by now most people know how I feel about the term “special interest” it’s really used to describe any group or person that doesn’t support a particular candidate or issue that the person using the term finds important.   While I’m sure that Jennifer Roloff does’t believe that her group of advisers are a “special interest,” I would say that they are.  They have spent time and money grooming Jennifer Roloff in order to get her on the City Council so that she will represent their (special) interests.

That’s why when people say “special interest” as some pejorative, it really isn’t.  We all have “special interests” and, hopefully, can find someone or a group of someones that are like minded enough to support our special interests.


It was interesting that Jennifer Roloff called out that she is not taking contributions from “development groups” because, really, no one else has either.  If you look at the campaign contributions for City Council candidates no one has taken “development group” money either.  Even though Jennifer Roloff made it sound as though she was on some moral high ground by announcing that she hadn’t taken money from a development group, none of the other four had either according to the most recent batch of disclosures.

However there were two candidates that did take money from a “developer.” Take a guess who.

If you guessed anyone but Jennifer Roloff and Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft you would be wrong.  Of the five candidates, only Jennifer Roloff and Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft accepted checks from Christopher Seiwald, local businessman AND developer.  Recall that he was part of the development group that built Alameda Station where the new Walgreen is on Park Street.  So while not a “development group” he is a “developer” which in Alameda is almost synonymous with “evil incarnate.”

I breathlessly await Jennifer Roloff’s surrogates explanation as to how the money from Christopher Seiwald to Jennifer Roloff is from his businessman side, but the same amount to Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft is from his developer side.



  1. I’d add that, like slogans on the model “Alamedans First,” the phrase “special interest” has an ugly history as a dog whistle to people upset at civil rights, feminism, and other progressive causes. Why would she use it at all?

    Comment by gaylon — October 20, 2016 @ 6:40 am

  2. Back to the original question about “outside money”, which is an interesting one. We know how that is playing out in M1/L1 land, but since we are focusing on City Council here, how does it shake out in the Council races? (Taking into account, or not taking into account, the distinction between independent expenditures and contributions to candidate campaign funds)

    The term “special interests” has been used in the past in the way #1 describes. But it has also been used more broadly to recognize that candidates or parties usually represent more than just a governing philosophy or ideas. To build majorities successful politicians also put together coalitions of groups that want specific outcomes (including budget outcomes) that are not always consistent with each other — philosophy-wise or pie-slicing-wise — but will consistently expect to have the candidate’s ear after the election.

    Comment by MP — October 20, 2016 @ 7:08 am

  3. I would argue that landlords are the biggest “special interest” in 2016 Alameda politics. given the number of Roloff signs placed by landlords in front of their rental properties (a real dick move of intimidation to their tenants) and the large Gold Coast and East End homes, it sure seems like that special interest is supporting her.

    That working class folks have to organize through unions to accomplish anything, including gaining political power, should not be talked about perjoratively as Ms. Roloff and her backers do.

    As for developers, I am glad that someone with money has interest that align with the tens of thousands of Alamedans that are excessively rentt-burdened because of a scarcity of housing and can help get the message out that some candidates are willing to represent those residents.

    Comment by BMac — October 20, 2016 @ 8:23 am

    • I meant to emphasize that the L1 signs placed by landlords are the worse form of intimidation, but placing candidate signs outside your tenants’ windows is right up there.

      Comment by BMac — October 20, 2016 @ 8:26 am

      • I’ve seen every sort of combination on election signs. Some streets look like time square with plenty of options for all. Putting up signs is marketing 101, like in real estate, it’s location location location. I know of renters that have Roloff signs and apartment owners that have Ashcraft/Vella signs etc etc etc. I was also told recently that Roloff ordered over 500 lawn signs and they ran out early and ordered more. My point, with that many signs out you’re going to see them with a lot of different combinations….. I think I’ve actually seen more of her signs with B1 signs than any other combination. For what’s it worth. And, I’m glad to see you correctly corrected your intimidation line…

        Comment by JimD — October 20, 2016 @ 10:16 am

    • The #1 special interest in Alameda, year in and year out, is the IAFF. Those poor “working class folks {who} have to organize through unions to accomplish anything” have an average compensation of ~$200,000 each, and a fair number are over $300,000. They are usually the largest dispenser of cash in council elections. Councils then vote them inflated pay packages.

      No thoughtful person could consider a group of people earning double what a teacher earns and far more than double the local median income “working class.” Buying elections to feather their nest makes them the archetype of a special interest.

      Comment by dave — October 20, 2016 @ 10:48 am

  4. You are now at 4 days in a row going after Roloff in some form. You are really reaching on this one. Mr and Mrs Seiwald give to many, and the fact that they gave to two opposing cadidates is just a class move. Within about the last year or so they sold their software business and buildings at Alameda Station. They currently classify themselves as retired and actually live in Alameda. You fail to recogonize that Alamedans United (AU) is clearly established to support their cadidates which include Ashcraft and Vella. You can go to the City of Alameda website (city clerk page) and obtain the information submitted on forms 460, 496 and 497. Within these forms it’s clear that AU has received development money (from outside the area/those that don’t live in Alameda) along with a lot of contributions from public safety and others, the majority of which is from out of the area. In these forms, AU also spend approx $6,400 on their smear mailers against Mr Daysog. Both Ashcraft and Vella may want to go re-read the Code Of Fair Campaign Practices they both signed as associated to that mailer, they have clearly not abided by it based on their association with AU. Will you, Ashcraft and Vella agree or disagree that AU is established to directly support them (and some running in other catogories) and is funded by the groups I mention above? Further, to compare what the Seiwald’s contributed to one or two opposing cadidates vs in total what AU is contributing or what Ashcraft/Vella are receiving (who/what/where) is ridiculous. What Ashcraft and Vella (including that AU money) are getting/spending vs the other 3 cadidates combined is overwhelming and likely 8x’s larger. History will likely repeat itself from two years ago. Then we had an incumbent mayor who grossly outspent her opponent and lost. The winner received over 10 thousand total votes as she had a large local base following that outside money couldn’t influence.

    Comment by FranklinB — October 20, 2016 @ 10:03 am

    • For a quick review of campaign contributions thru 9/24, see Summaries of the filed reports are available.

      Comment by JuelleAnn Boyer — October 20, 2016 @ 2:34 pm

      • Here is the link to initial filing for campaigns. Below that are the first pre-election filings. Next week, the second pre-election will be available.

        Comment by Mike McMahon — October 20, 2016 @ 5:35 pm

        • None of the candidates are “connected” to Alamedans United since they are an independent expenditure committee. The IE committee is supporting Vella and Ashcraft for City Council, McMahon for City Auditor, Bratzler for City Treasurer, and Harris and Hettich for School Board.

          Comment by Mike McMahon — October 21, 2016 @ 7:16 am

    • Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is not connected with the Alamedans United group.

      Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 20, 2016 @ 9:33 pm

      • KB – Either you are drinking early (and heavy) on this Friday or are living on fantasy island. But I guess being connected at the hip doesn’t count. Please do homework (easy assignment by the way) before making yourself appear completely clueless.

        Comment by FranklinB — October 21, 2016 @ 3:26 pm

        • I posted that on Thursday, not drinking on Thursday, and have done my homework. Not connected. It is kind of appalling that IEs can just use someone’s name without permission.

          Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 21, 2016 @ 11:24 pm

  5. They are all connected with each other if it was an orgy they would not need light , they are all one and the same .

    Comment by no on trash — October 21, 2016 @ 1:29 pm

  6. KB we can debate what connected means all day. AU was created to support very specific candidates and those candidates are directly benefiting from their money and supporters (developers and public safety from outside of Alameda for the most part). If using cadidates names in negitive mailers or any other manner was so appalling to those same cadidates then they should do something about it. But they don’t, actually they just look the other way, other then to say “we don’t control the IE’s”. Lame and a lot of voters will see it as it is. I keep meeting people that will be voting against anything the AU slate recommends.

    Comment by FranklinB — October 22, 2016 @ 9:28 am

    • FB-Just irritated by your implication that I was drinking and/or didn’t do my homework. Maybe Mike McMahon can enlighten you on what the relationship is of candidates to IEs in election law and what if anything can be done about literature that is sent out supporting candidates (and attacking others) by IEs.

      Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 22, 2016 @ 11:45 am

      • You or others can talk election law and make excuses all you want on those poor cadidates that are benefiting from such garbage. That doesn’t change the fact that if candidates names are associated with such negitive action(s) and they don’t like it, then do something about it. How about a public apology to Daysog? Or, a letter to AU saying requesting removal of their names and any associated “support” from that group. Or, maybe not voting on anything that group supports. Basically calling Mr. Daysog an elder abuser and sending out a flyer where someone is about to get “bitch slapped” will cost them votes. And as for L1/M1 #7, I’ve seen nothing yet, as far as ads go, get as personal as what went out on Daysog.

        Comment by FranklinB — October 22, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

  7. while we are at it, does anyone care that “special interest, outside money” flows into Alameda to the landlords for opposition to M 1 rent stabilization initiative.? , T.V. commercials, giant mailers, to the tune of about $500,000. But if a union backs a candidate its a terrible thing. I guess its O.K. if your a landlord and connected.

    Comment by John P. — October 22, 2016 @ 9:57 am

  8. You are right on target with this one. Everyone is a special interest. Entire trade economies are built on the notion that different people want different things.

    The best face I could put on the term “special interest” is that it means “every interest other than the general interest”, which doesn’t do much because then we all get to argue about what’s in the general interest. Even that would be progress.

    Like you, I wish politicians were more specific and could stop calling all influence “special interest”. What’s next — denigrating people for using their votes to represent their own interests?

    Comment by West End — October 25, 2016 @ 10:31 am

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