Over the next several months, The Coalition of Labor, Agricultural, and Business (COLAB) will provide a series of articles on issues its membership believes important to the economic viability of Imperial Valley.Â We thank the Desert Review for its support and interest in publishing these articles.Â Please note that our articles do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Desert Review, its owners, or staff.Â The opinions expressed are that of the COLAB board.
by Kay Day Pricola
This article will cover two related topics. Â The first topic deals with the recent Special Election for the Imperial Irrigation District, Division One race. Local news agencies have aired brief stories on contributions made in support of the candidates, however, large and significant donations were not revealed until after June 6th.Â This delay denied the public a true picture of campaign contributions.
In California, as well as other states, a candidate who receives more than $2,000 per year for political purposes must report those funds based on set schedules for each election cycle.Â The form the candidate is required to complete is called Form 460.Â This form details monies received by the candidates and their expenditures.Â The final filing for the IID Special Election of June 6th was on July 31, 2017.Â Chart A lists the reported income and expenditures of all four candidates for Division One.
Another type of donation, that many are unaware of, including it appears some of the local media, is the Independent Expenditure donations from a Political Action Committee, or other group, of $1,000 or more per year.Â This expenditure is legal and does not have to be reported by the candidate who is the beneficiary of the investment, if the investment is NOT made in consultation, cooperation, or coordination with the candidate, such as providing a campaign manager who is in direct contact with the candidate.
This filing is done with Forms 496 and 497.Â Â The amount reported on forms 496 and 497 for the special election increased one candidate funding by $74,615.83.Â Only one candidate, as noted in the Chart B, received the benefit of this Independent Expenditure donation.Â The total funding for that candidate was actually $80,865.83, 20 percent greater than the total raised by the other three candidates.
The second topic is donations to Imperial County political campaigns over the last three elections cycles.Â In researching these Independent Expenditure forms we found that during the 2015, 2016 and 2017 election cycles, financial commitments for local donations have totalled $454,631.31. Â These investments range from school boards, the I.I.D. and the Imperial County Board of Supervisors. These donations, the only ones reported as required to the Imperial County Election Department are noted in Chart B.Â Unless otherwise noted all the donation are reported by the â€œImperial Valley Works Sponsored by San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council-AFL-CIOâ€. Only one Form 497 was filed by a businessman from Beverly Hills involved with the development of Gran Plaza in Calexico.Â Â Â The specific organizations for the Imperial Valley Works Sponsored by San Diego & Imperial Labor Council -AFL-CIO is noted in the last column.
Again, these donationsâ€”as independent expendituresâ€”are legal as long as reported in the prescribed time frame and not done in consultation, cooperation, or coordination with the candidate. At the local, state and federal levels, most of us are aware of contributions made to candidatesâ€™ campaigns, and those are reported by the candidatesâ€™ committee. These independent expenditures from Form 496 and Form 497 are also reported, but often fly under the radar.Â Now that we know that these additional expenditures in support of candidates have been occurring here for several years, we ask that the responsible media also report these donations to the voting public in each election cycle.