The powerful California prison guard’s union paid Oakland Mayoral candidate Don Perata and his son, Nick Perata, at least $260,000 to work as “campaign consultants” last year. According to recent filings with the Secretary of State’s Office, a significant portion of that total — $180,000 — came after Perata began actively running for mayor of Oakland. The most recent payment to the former state senator was $20,000 on December 9, 2009.
It’s not clear why the prison guard’s political committee needed to pay Perata and his son so much money as campaign consultants, because it did not mount any official political campaigns last year, according to its own disclosure forms. And if the union hired Perata and son to fund-raise, it may want to rethink that decision, because the union’s political committee did not receive any donations in 2009 — other than transfers from other prison guard committees.
Wayne Ordos, treasurer of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association Issues Committee — the political committee that paid the Peratas $260,000 last year — did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. And Perata spokesman Jason Kinney did not have an immediate comment on the issue.
But last September, Kinney told the Oakland Tribune — after it reported that Perata had received $100,000 from the prison guard’s union — that the ex-senator was “applying his vast experience and unique understanding of public policy to help (the union) develop important inmate re-entry programs.” Kinney’s description of Perata’s work, however, does not appear to square with the usual definition of a campaign consultant, and instead, seems to describe the activities of a “private consultant.” Which raises the question — why did the union’s political committee, and not the union itself, hire the former senator?