Arnold, Hill, Peschong lead campaign contribution battles

April 30, 2016
John Peschong

John Peschong

Note: Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin posted his campaign finance disclosure after this story was posted. The story has been updated to include Martin’s campaign contributions.


A clear fundraising leader has emerged in each of the three San Luis Obispo County supervisor races. Incumbent supervisors Debbie Arnold and Adam Hill have both raised about $100,000 more than their opponents, while longtime Republican political strategist John Peschong is pulling away from the pack in the competition for retiring Supervisor Frank Mecham’s seat.

Arnold recently edged Hill for the overall fundraising lead among county supervisor candidates. Peschong, who is in third place countywide, raised the most money between Jan. 1 and April 23, according to campaign finance disclosures for that period. Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, who is running against Peschong, failed to file his forms online on Thursday, as required by state law.

The largest cash donors this year have been two politicians – United States House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and SLO County Supervisor Bruce Gibson. Both McCarthy and Gibson spent $5,000 of their own campaign funds on SLO County supervisor candidates.

On June 7, SLO County voters in District 1, District 3 and District 5 will vote in supervisorial races. There is a four-way race for the District 1 seat Mecham is vacating; Hill is in a three-way race for his District 3 seat; and Arnold faces just one challenger in District 5.


District 1

The district runs inland from the Monterey County line to Templeton and has 5,835 more Republicans than Democrats, giving conservative challengers Paso Robles Councilman John Hamon and businessman John Peschong an edge over Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, a Democrat. Dale Gustin, an attorney whose license has been suspended, is also in the race. Gustin is registered declined to state.

Peschong raised $77,056 in cash donations and nearly $10,000 in non-monetary contributions between Jan. 1 and April 23. Over the course of the 2015-2016 campaign, Peschong has raised $115,361 in total contributions. Peschong joined Arnold and Hill as the only candidates who have eclipsed $100,000 in total contributions.

Peschong was the last candidate to enter the county supervisor races, and he did not begin raising money until December. His donors range geographically from Hawaii to Virginia.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy donated $5,000 to Peschong, the largest of his campaign.

The second largest donation to Peschong’s campaign came from the California Independent Petroleum Association, a nonprofit organization that represents crude oil and natural gas producers, royalty owners and service and supply companies. Peschong, like his competitors, supports Phillip 66’s proposed rail spur project.

Peschong also received $2,000 each from Teixeira Farms in Santa Maria and Michael McElwain, a political consultant in the Washington, D.C. area.

Additionally, Peschong received $1,000 from the Irvine-based campaign committee of Aguiar for Assessor. Peschong has now received a total of $4,500 from the Aguiar for Assessor campaign.

Steve Martin

In 2015, Martin raised $19,761, the second highest total among District 1 candidates.

Between Jan. 1 and April 23, Martin raised $9,612 in total contributions. Martin’s largest donor was San Luis Obispo-based Public Policy Solutions, which is owned by Democratic political strategist Cory Black. Public Policy Solutions contributed $2,500 to Martin. The San Luis Obispo County Democratic Party gave $1,500, the second largest donation to Martin’s campaign.

Hamon only raised $15,991 in total contributions in 2015 and 2016. He raised $8,420 in total contributions between Jan. 1 and April 23. Hamon’s largest donor during that period was Keene Graves, the owner of Greater Financial Services in Paso Robles. Graves gave $1,000 to Hamon. That donation is the only four-digit contribution Hamon has received this year.

Gustin does not have a fundraising committee, according to his campaign statement form.

Jan. 1-April 23 Total Contributions
John Peschong – $87,049
Steve Martin – $9,612
John Hamon – $8,420
Dale Gustin – not fundraising

2015-2016 Total Contributions
John Peschong – $115,361
Steve Martin – $29,474
Hamon – $15,591
Dale Gustin – not fundraising


Adam Hill

Adam Hill

District 3

The district includes Grover Beach, Pismo Beach and a portion of San Luis Obispo. It has 788 more Democrats than Republicans. Supervisor Adam Hill’s two opponents in the District 3 race are San Luis Obispo Councilman Dan Carpenter and former Grover Beach mayor Debbie Peterson. Hill and Peterson are Democrats. Carpenter is not affiliated with a political party.

Hill has received $172,936 in total contributions over the course of the 2015-2016 campaign, which is more than the combined total of Carpenter and Peterson. However, Hill’s fundraising pace slowed slightly over the first four months of 2014. During that period, Carpenter raised more money than Hill, when including non-monetary contributions.

Between Jan. 1 and Arpil 23, 12 donors contributed at least $1,000 to Hill. Carpenter had only two four-digit donors during that period, and Peterson only had one.

Hill’s largest cash donor was Bruce Gibson, his ally on the board of supervisors. On April 18, the Bruce Gibson for Supervisor committee donated $4,000 to Hill.

Hill received a pair of $2,000 contributions from Daou Vineyards & Winery in Paso Robles and Greengate Farms in San Luis Obispo.

The largest donation Hill has received this year is a $6,849 non-monetary contribution from developer Gary Grossman. On April 8, Grossman hosted a birthday party for Hill.

Grossman is Hill’s largest overall donor for the 2015-2016 campaign. Grossman has given Hill $14,633 in total contributions. Of that total, $5,050 has been in cash.

Grossman is currently trying to develop the 131-acre Dalidio Ranch in San Luis Obispo. Hill has lobbied the San Luis Obispo City Council to change city planning rules in order for Grossman’s development to get approved as envisioned.

Several developers involved in South County also continued making contributions to Hill’s campaign.

Santa Barbara-based Somera Capital Management is developing a downtown Pismo Beach lot into a 104-unit hotel with retail and dining space. It is also trying to develop a 23-acre waterfront parcel in Avila Beach, where it is planning a boutique hotel. The development firm contributed $4,000 to Hill last year, and it gave him $1,250 earlier this month.

Dana Severy, the owner of Santa-Barbara based Post Card Properties, is partnering with Somera Capital Management on the two SLO County projects. Severy gave Hill $800 in 2015. She contributed $250 in February.

Arroyo Grande developer Nick Tompkins contributed $1,000 to Hill in 2015. Tompkins gave Hill another $1,000 in February.

John Scardino, a Westlake Village resident who is involved in the Trilogy Homes project on the Nipomo Mesa, contributed $750 to Hill in 2015. Scardino gave Hill $300 in February. Additionally, Scardino’s wife, Danille Marman, contributed $3,000 to Hill last year.

Phoenix developer Bradley Wilde was involved in the sale of the Pismo Preserve property to the Land Conservancy of SLO County. The property sold for more than $12 million. Wilde gave Hill $6,000 in 2015. He contributed another $1,000 to Hill this week, but the donation is not counted in the recent reporting period.

Hill has also received a total of $1,200 from Atascadero resident Jamie Kirk, who owns Kirk Consulting. Kirk was the planner paid to promote the conversion of the North County Pasolivo olive ranch into an entertainment venue. Hill voted in favor of the project 12 days after Kirk donated to his campaign.

Carpenter’s top donor in his latest 2015 filing is San Luis Obispo resident Leslie Halls, who contributed $2,000. Carpenter’s second largest donation came from San Luis Obispo developer Tom Copeland and his wife Pam Copeland. The Copelands contributed $1,000 to Carpenter.

San Luis Obispo Councilman Dan Carpenter

San Luis Obispo Councilman Dan Carpenter

Robert McCarthy, the owner of a property south of Avila Beach who is seeking approval to have a trail moved, donated $3,000 to Carpenter on April 25, shortly after the last disclosure period ended.

Between Jan. 1 and April 23, Carpenter received $28,734 in cash contributions.

Carpenter received the highest amount of total contributions in the District 3 race, due in part to the grassroots activities of his supporters. Former congresswoman Andrea Seastrand, San Luis Obispo resident Laura Mordaunt and Nipomo resident Terri Stricklin contributed a combined $16,000 in non-monetary contributions. Their contributions were described as grassroots leadership, action and support.

Peterson received $5,653 in cash contributions between Jan. 1 and April 23. Her largest donor was Santa Barbara resident Glenna Shanks, who contributed $1,000.

During the first four months of 2016, Peterson loaned her campaign $8,000. She also loaned her campaign $11,200 in 2015. Including the $19,200 that Peterson has loaned to her campaign, she has raised $63,985 in 2015-2016 total contributions.

Jan. 1-April 23 Total Contributions
*Dan Carpenter – $45,234
Adam Hill – $41,551
Debbie Peterson – $15,819

*35 percent were non-monetary contributions described as grassroots activities

2015-2016 Total Contributions
Adam Hill – $172,936
Dan Carpenter – $73,387
Debbie Peterson – $63,985


Supervisor Debbie Arnold

Supervisor Debbie Arnold

District 5

The district includes Atascadero, Santa Margarita and portions of Templeton and San Luis Obispo. It has 3,332 more Republicans than Democrats, giving Republican Supervisor Debbie Arnold an edge over her challenger, farmer Eric Michielssen, a Democrat.

In 2015 and 2016, Arnold raised $178,685 in total contributions. Michielssen’s 2015-2016 campaign contribution total is $56,926.

Between Jan. 1 and April 23, Arnold raised $60,491 in cash donations. A total of 26 donors contributed at least $1,000 to Arnold.

The top contribution Arnold has received in 2016 came from Malibu billionaire B. Wayne Hughes, Jr. Hughes’ father founded storage company Public Storage. Hughes Jr. contributed $2,500 to Arnold in March.

Arnold received $2,000 contributions from Teixeira Farms in Santa Maria and Opolo Wines in Westlake Village. Donors who have contributed $1,000 to Arnold this year include local businesses, developers, former state senator Sam Blakeslee, the SLO Cattlemen’s PAC, the SLO County Deputy Sheriff Association and the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians.

Last year, Arnold’s largest donors were developer Gary Grossman and Mike Cole, a partner in the Las Palitas gravel quarry proposal. Both Grossman and Cole contributed $2,500 to Arnold in 2015. Neither Grossman, nor Cole has donated to Arnold this year.

But, Cole’s partner in the quarry project, Steve Souza, has contributed to Arnold’s campaign in 2016. Souza contributed $510. Last year, Arnold cast one of the two votes in favor of the quarry. The board of supervisors rejected the project on a 3-2 vote.

Between Jan. 1 and April 23, Michielssen raised $36,547 in cash donations. Only five donors contributed $1,000 or more to his campaign during that period.

Eric Michielssen

Eric Michielssen

Michielssen’s top donor was the SLO County Democratic Party, which contributed $1,500. Michielssen also received $1,000 each from the Atascadero Democratic Club and the fundraising committee of Supervisor Bruce Gibson, a Democrat. Gibson also contributed $500 to Michielssen in 2015.

The Pozo farmers’s other top donors this year have been the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 403 Pac and San Miguel resident Kathleen Maas, the owner of Pear Valley Vineyard. They contributed $1,000 and $1,050 respectively.

Jan. 1-April 23 Total Contributions
Debbie Arnold – $62,631
Eric Michielssen – $38,921

2015-2016 Total Contributions
Debbie Arnold – $178,685
Eric Michielssen – $56,926

Supervisor candidates who receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 7 primary will win the election outright. Races in which no one wins in June will end with a November runoff.



  1. Perspicacious says:

    John Hamon is a knucklehead. The guy is whining and complaining about Peschong’s sign placement. Sounds like another Trump.

    (7) 19 Total Votes - 13 up - 6 down
  2. SLOBIRD says:

    Everyone is District 3 should look at the donor list for Adam Hill and see if this is the direction they want from someone who is suppose to represent them, not the developers. Also, I think that there is an error in the above article as you forgot to mention the $50,000 Mr. Grossman gave to Adam Hill’s wife, Dee Torres-Hill.

    So, Mr. Grossman gave Adam $14,633 in total contributions (not counting the $50,000 he gave Adam’s wife, Dee Torres) and a Birthday Bash, and of that total, $5,050 has been in cash. What was the other $9,583 spent on, the Birthday Bash, dinners, car, ??????

    And, Steve Martin forgot to file his papers. Really! Walk away and save face because you have been incompetent in this race, as well as running for mayor and as a councilperson in general. Just be thankful the people of Paso Robles like you and have allowed you to be a councilman. You will not accomplish anything out of Paso!

    (10) 20 Total Votes - 15 up - 5 down
    • unlisted says:

      SLOBIRD asked “What was the other $9,583 spent on, the Birthday Bash, dinners, car, ??????”

      Are you crazy? Adam would be caught dead driving the cheap of a car!

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
    • just the facts says:

      Hey First District voters…Forget John Hamon! Forget Steve Martin! Vote John Peschong on or before June 7!

      And for those Third District voters reading this…Forget Adam Hill! Vote Dan Carpenter
      on or before June 7!

      Your vote does count. So let’s ‘clean house’ in San Luis Obispo County!

      (8) 12 Total Votes - 10 up - 2 down
  3. Mr. Holly says:

    This is starting to look like an auction and the winner will go to the highest bidder? How have we got to this point in politics?

    (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      Truly disgusting for the citizens but great for the developers! I don’t think anyone living out of this County should be allowed to contribute to a local election,

      (5) 13 Total Votes - 9 up - 4 down
    • TeeItUp says:

      Low Information Voter, that is how it always is.

      How do you reach them?

      You must send in the snail mail pieces to them. That costs $10,000+ per mailing and Adam Hill has mailed out 6 pieces that is $60,000+ and he is spending $30,000 on TV and whatever on Radio and What ever on his consultant at about $15,000 per month at least.

      So it has always come to $$$$ to reach the uninformed and that is why Adam attacks anyone who wants to give to Dan Carpenter.


      It is time to “fish or cut bate” for your frightened business people!

      They have for the first time in 8 years the best opportunity to get Adam out and they are finding the b _ _ _ s to do it!!!!!!

      GIVE MONEY TO DAN!!!!!!

      Adam and your underhanded ways are GOING DOWN!

      Remember that all the people you extort DO NOT LIKE YOU as you are a liar and mean.

      Yes it does matter is you like someone if you respect someone it does matter and

      Character Does Matter and Dan Carpenter has it.

      (15) 29 Total Votes - 22 up - 7 down
  4. Mike Byrd says:

    $16,000 in “grassroots activities”? Since when have dollar amounts been applied to campaign volunteers? And what is the basis for calculating those amounts – minimum wage or just some amount pulled out of thin air?

    I’ve donated to the campaign of Debbie Peterson who I admire and respect immensely but it seems my volunteer hours in support of her could have been reported also. At my normal hourly rate that would have been substantial.

    But Debbie isn’t playing games with her financial disclosures which says much about how she would approach the job of supervisor.

    (-10) 30 Total Votes - 10 up - 20 down
    • dogeatdog says:

      Mike volunteers are considered IN KIND donations, I don’t see any for Debbie. Let’s see if the FPPC agrees with her not disclosing those donations.

      (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
      • Kevin Rice says:

        You are wrong. Volunteers are not considered to be making a non-monetary contribution unless they are providing professional services for which they are normally paid (attorney, graphics artist, etc.) Persons volunteering to walk, stuff envelopes, or otherwise give of their personal time does not constitute a contribution. (Source: FPPC Campaign Disclosure Manuals.)

        (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  5. Dave says:

    General impressions from this article:

    (1) Bruce Gibson gave $4,000 to Adam Hill, but only $500 to Eric Michielssen? Ouch!

    (2) Read the big donations to Adam Hill. Developer after developer, out of county business after out of county business. It’s as if Adam Hill in 2016 is the Jerry Lenthall of 2016. These developers are giving money just to be nice. What is it they want in return?

    (3) Hill is also specifically taking money from developers who have business before the Board of Supervisors.

    (4) Gary Grossman spent nearly $7000 on a birthday party for Adam Hill.

    I really don’t understand how, given these numbers, the environmental community continues to embrace the incumbent. Oh sure, he’s there for them on the easy stuff like Pismo Preserve and the Phillips 66 oil train, but all that money isn’t changing hands without purpose.

    (28) 42 Total Votes - 35 up - 7 down
  6. phoenix.rising says:


    1st District Supervisor Winner John Peschong

    3rd District Supervisor Winner Dan Carpenter

    5th District Supervisor Winner Debbie Arnold

    This is called a Grand Slam

    The 3rd District has a ground swell of “We are not going to take it anymore!”

    District 1 and 5 and their popularity is sweeping across the county and infecting District 3.

    It is time for a NEW start.

    It is time to neutralize Bruce Gibson and his clone Adam Hill.

    (26) 48 Total Votes - 37 up - 11 down
    • TeeItUp says:

      I agreed

      Everyone easily agrees with your predictions of District 1 Supervisor going to be John Peschong and District 5 going to be Debbie Arnold.

      It is wild to believe that it will be Dan Carpenter in District 3… you all say but guess what?

      Keep the faith and tell everyone you know that Dan is the Man and Dan is the correct and sane choice.

      I saw this and wanted to share…what a great video that shows why this is happening because Dan touches the people who vote and they are responding in larger and larger numbers.

      Making of a Supervisor 2016

      (16) 34 Total Votes - 25 up - 9 down
  7. Pelican1 says:

    $172,936….blood money.

    (21) 33 Total Votes - 27 up - 6 down

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