Caren Ray campaign funds and filings folly
October 8, 2014
OPINION By KEVIN RICE
Is there anything more odious than a politician who violates a law they personally voted to pass? Many of us remember 2011, when the Tribune took four of five San Luis Obispo City Council members to the woodshed for ignoring their own ordinance requiring trash containers to be stored out of public view. I lobbed a return volley at our not-so-fastidious daily rag for doing the exact same thing at their own homes.
This time, it’s Supervisor Caren Ray.
On June 3, this year, Ordinance 3261 was proposed to the SLO County Board of Supervisors which would require election campaign finance reports to be filed electronically instead of on paper. These are the filings that disclose to the public just who is contributing money to election campaigns, and how much. The reports are posted on the web by the county clerk for the benefit of the public. Everyone should check out who is funding candidates before voting.
With many hundreds of pages of paper filings, our county clerk was spending a whole lot of time scanning paper and manually redacting out private details such as home addresses. Not only does this waste staff time and paper, but the public also doesn’t get to view the reports until all that work is done. Hence, electronic filing doesn’t just save taxpayer funds. It also allows the public to get access to campaign finance details the moment a candidate files a report.
So, guess who hasn’t filed a single electronic report since voting to adopt Ordinance 3261 on June 3? Supervisor Caren Ray, that’s who. Caren Ray has filed a total of thirty-four paper reports in that time, all of which had to be manually scanned and redacted by county staff. Moreover, the ability of the public to see the reports is delayed.
Meanwhile, Caren’s opponent, Lynn Compton, has been filing electronically since March—before Ordinance 3261 was even proposed.
Just what is wrong with Caren Ray? I mean, we can bicker about whether she actually, truly, honestly “fully supports Proposition 13” (of course, she doesn’t), but here and now she is blatantly violating a local county ordinance she, herself, voted to pass.
And, Caren Ray didn’t just vote “yes” on Ordinance 3261… she was also the maker of the motion to pass Ordinance 3261. Boy, she was looking so good up on the dais on June 3 moving the county forward… not so much in hindsight.
County staff tells me Caren Ray’s campaign treasurer, Kathie Matsuyama, has had difficulty entering all the campaign data into the county’s electronic filing system in the four months since June 3. That might be somewhat understandable, except Matsuyama seemed to have enough spare time to write emails about hobos. I can also personally attest the electronic system is extremely simple to utilize. I’ve filed a number of statements. The system even helps prevent some of those nasty “clerical errors” because all your math is automatically calculated.
Sidebar to Treasurer Matsuyama: You erroneously added $250 to Supervisor Ray’s cash contributions in your May 22 report. You declared $53,777 itemized cash on page 4, but on page 14 the (correct) total was $53,527. See how electronic filing could be helpful?
Caren Ray’s latest report (paper filed Monday, but not available to the public until Tuesday) is near chaos. Disclosing the occupation and employer of donors is required so the public can have a clue why a donor is giving $10,000 to a supervisor election. Apparently, Caren Ray believes “self” is both an occupation and employer. That’s wrong. “Owner” isn’t an occupation either. “Attorney” and “realtor” are occupations. So is “developer”. As to names of employers, companies that are self-owned usually have names like “Joe Blow Homes”, not just “Joe Blow”. Hiding the fact that Joe Blow is a mega-developer by leaving words off isn’t cool, Caren. When Caren Ray lists someone’s occupation as “entrepreneur” and their employer as “self” that hides the fact that their company manages all the county golf courses and has a strong interest in getting some payback from the supes for their $3,000 contribution.
“Retired” isn’t an occupation either. Retired folk need to own-up and just put down “none” when asked. Campaign treasurers need to translate here.
Then, there’s all the inconsistencies in Caren Ray’s reports. Her report this Monday omits $4,000 that was previously disclosed in special reports required to be filed within 24-hours for contributions over $1,000. Worse, Caren Ray reports some of the $1,000 plus contributions occurred using different dates than were reported on the 24-hour reports. These mysterious date changes suggest the original 24-hour reports were falsified so they wouldn’t appear to be filed late (more than 24-hours). Whatever the reason, there are about a dozen such date discrepancies.
The county’s electronic filing system keeps track of dates and amounts. And, using it complies with Ordinance 3261. A winning combination.
More discrepancies: A $5,000 donor (a developer) who resides in Pismo Beach according to a prior 24-hour report somehow got changed to Arroyo Grande in Monday’s report. Maybe Caren Ray wants it to look like her money comes from inside District 4. It doesn’t. Analysis of every single one of Ray’s reported contributions over the past twelve months reveals only 33 percent of her money comes from District 4 donors. Two-thirds of Ray’s campaign funds come from outside her district.
Out-of-county contributions account for $34,221 of Caren Ray’s campaign funds.
Most of Caren Ray’s out-of-county money came from L.A. county based mega-developer John Scardino (and his family and friends) and Texas-based developer Haythem S. Daylett, principal and founder of Legend Communities. Legend is behind hundreds of acres of development in SLO county, including Woodlands/Monarch Dunes/Trilogy, Blacklake, Vista Del Mar, Chandler Ranch (Paso), and also Bradley Square (Santa Maria).
But, the biggest shock, is $40,000 came from only three people. All tied to developers that includes the Dalidio property in San Luis Obispo. The same names are dumping money like crazy into SLO’s sales tax measure and two SLO city council candidates: Dan Rivoire and Carlyn Christianson. If elected, they will approve reducing the safety zone around SLO’s airport, clearing the way to build hundreds of high-density homes and commercial properties. Traffic, air pollution and water shortages, anyone?
Do the voters of District 4 and San Luis Obispo really believe Caren Ray and other left-of-center personalities are going to keep SLO County beautiful? Will Caren Ray stand up to protect scant water resources on the Mesa (at least one private well has already gone dry) in the face of all her new mega-developer friends? Will Caren Ray stand up to Union Pacific Railroad when voting on the refinery rail spur project that stands to bring hundreds of oil cars through SLO County?
Oh, right, Caren Ray took money from Union Pacific Railroad as well. All you need to know is right in her campaign finance disclosure in black and white. On paper. In violation of Ordinance 3261. The ordinance she moved and voted to pass.
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