Oakland Mayor’s Race Cap Is $95,000 for ‘Independent Committees’



The Oakland City Clerk’s Office has set the spending cap in the Oakland mayor’s race at $95,000 for so-called “independent” committees. The clerk’s office notified candidates yesterday about the spending limit. The cap became news earlier this week when the Express reported that a Sacramento group with close ties to ex-state Senator Don Perata revealed that it had exceeded the spending limit, thereby allowing all candidates, including Perata, to spend as much as they wanted on the mayor’s race.

The Perata-linked group, Coalition for a Safer California, which has launched attacks ads against his competitors, Councilwomen Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan, later had to rescind its declaration when it discovered that the cap was not $70,000 as it had thought. The cap was established in 1998 at $70,000, but has grown to $95,000 because of inflation, the clerk’s office said.

However, the Perata-linked group has indicated that it nonetheless plans to exceed the $95,000 cap before the election, thereby allowing the ex-senator to spend as much as he wants to win the mayor's office. In a follow-up letter to the Oakland City Attorney’s Office and the city’s Public Ethics Commission, Paul Kinney of the Coalition for a Safer California described his earlier declaration about exceeding the cap as “premature,” implying that the group plans to go over it at a later date. Kinney also said in the letter that he will alert both city agencies “should we cross the line” — a reference to the $95,000 limit.

Kinneys follow-up letter.
  • Kinney's follow-up letter.

Lifting the spending cap in the mayor’s race, which is $379,000 for each mayoral candidate’s campaign, promises to be a huge boost for Perata because of his fund-raising abilities and because he is already close to reaching the cap and thus has virtually no money left for the final stages of the race. Perata also appears to be banking on spending whatever he wants because he skipped another candidate debate earlier this week, telling organizers that he had to attend a fund-raiser even though he already has raised more money than he’s allowed to spend under the cap.