Ex-state Senator Don Perata apparently does not believe that his close association with the California prison guards’ union will harm his chances with progressive Oakland voters in this year’s mayoral race. According to newly filed campaign finance reports, the powerful prison guards' union paid Perata another $60,000 from April through June of this year. Perata has now pocketed nearly $409,000 from the prison guards' union since being termed out of the Senate in January 2009.
It’s never been clear exactly what Perata has done to earn so much money. The prison guards' union reports on its campaign finance reports filed with the California Secretary of State’s Office that Perata is one of their “campaign consultants.” However, the union has mounted no political campaigns since hiring his consulting company, Perata Consulting. During his time as leader of the state Senate, Perata helped protect the prison guards' union from budget cuts. The prison guard’s union also is Perata Consulting’s only political campaign client.
The latest $60,000 payment from the prison guards' union to Perata also coincided with the union’s decision to finance two hit-piece mailers that blanketed Oakland mailboxes attacking the ex-senator’s two main rivals for mayor — Councilwomen Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan. The union funneled its payments for the mailers through a shadowy Sacramento political committee that has close ties to Perata.