Perata Blows Lid off Spending Cap


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Don Perata has spent at least $594,000 in his attempt to become the next mayor of Oakland, thereby demolishing the city’s expenditure cap of $379,000, according to campaign finance reports filed today with the city clerk’s office. It was the first time that a mayoral candidate has ever gone over Oakland’s spending limit. Perata contends that he can exceed the cap because a Sacramento group with close ties to him has gone over the cap as well. That group, Coalition for a Safer California, which is run by a longtime Perata friend and is funded by the ex-senator’s best donors, reported last night that it had spent at least $137,000 trying to get him elected.

However, two of Perata’s main competitors, Councilwomen Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan, noted that it appears from the campaign filings that Perata may have gone over the city’s spending cap before Coalition for a Safer California did. If so, then Perata broke Oakland law. The filings show that Coalition for a Safer California reported that it spent more than the city’s $95,000 cap for independent committees on September 16. But Perata’s TV ads, which reportedly put him over the cap, too, started appearing right around the same time.

Kaplan, who said she is also now running ads on cable TV and ran them during her 2008 campaign for council, said that Comcast, Oakland’s cable provider, requires payment before the ads air. “They told me it’s a hard-and-fast rule,” Kaplan said. “So reading the reports, it certainly looks like he (Perata) may be breaking the law.”

In all, Perata reported raising $663,000 for the mayoral campaign through September 30. He said he raised $544,000 this year, including $229,000 from July through September, and he previously reported raising $119,000 last year. He reported spending $488,000 this year, including $268,000 in the last three months. He previously reported spending $106,000 last year. Perata also reported that he personally loaned his campaign $140,000 — $90,000 from his own checking account and $50,000 from his small consulting firm, Perata Consulting. That firm’s biggest client is the state prison guard’s union, which has paid him at least $469,000 since early 2009. Interestingly, Perata listed both his home address and that of his consulting agency as his son’s home in Napa.

Quan, meanwhile, reported raising $399,000 total so far, but reported spending about $193,000. Quan’s campaign, however, later said that her bookkeeper made an accounting error and that she had only raised about $319,000 to date, and that they would file an amended report. Quan also reported loaning her campaign $155,000.

Kaplan reported raising $139,000 through September 30 and spending $124,000. She also reported loaning her campaign $34,200. And like Quan, most of the contributions she received were small, $100 and $200 donations from Oakland residents. Perata, by contrast, received numerous maximum donations of $700 to $1,300 from individuals and groups outside the city.

Joe Tuman, who has been running fourth in the polls behind Perata, Quan, and Kaplan, reported raising $64,000, most of them small donations from Oakland residents. He reported spending $23,000 through the end of September. He also reported loaning his campaign $13,000.

Finally, Perata and several of his allies have been saying on the campaign trail that Ron Dellums also exceeded the spending cap during the 2006 mayor’s race. But city records show the claim is false. Although Dellums originally reported spending $419,000 in the race, he later amended his campaign finance report, saying the campaign had made several overpayments that were subsequently refunded. In the end, Dellums reported spending $341,000 in total on the race. The city’s spending cap that year was $343,000.