By Donna Westfall – October 20, 2016 – When a person thinks of money laundering, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the TV show “The Sopranos.” Here the criminal gang would hide the source of their stolen money by opening a legitimate enterprise like a restaurant where they then could funnel their money to the restaurant and declare the proceeds as profits. No one would be the wiser.
Well there is another form of money laundering and that’s when it concerns political campaigns. About once every 6 weeks or so, all political campaigns that raise or spend $2,000 or more must declare how much they raised and where it came from and also what they spent and where it was spent.
Sometimes a donor may want to donate to a campaign but does not want that fact known. In order to disguise that fact, they may use a third party. This is what it looks like has happened locally.
According to the public records available at the Del Norte County Clerk’s office, the Del Norte County Democratic Central Committee accepted donations from PG&E Corporation for $25,000, California Professional Firefighters PAC for $35,200, Blue Shield of Calfornia for $29,600 and Professional Engineers in California for $35,000. This amount of donations to a local political party is very unusual in itself. What is really puzzling is why PG&E would donate to a local political party in Del Norte County when it does not even serve our area, or why the California Professional Firefighters PAC would donate to the local political committee when we only have one paid firefighter in our county.
Yo would expect all of that money would be used to support candidates running for political office in Del Norte county, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. When we look at the expenditures from the local Democratic central Committee, we see that they donated $50,000 to Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva. Who is she? Sell, it turns out that she is in a tough fight to retain her seat representing the northern part of Orange County. Did we say Orange County, almost a thousand miles away from Del Norte County? Yes, we did.
The local central committee also donated $75,000 to the Dawn Ortiz Legg for Assembly campaign. Where is that district located you ask? Well, it encompasses San Luis Obispo County and much of Santa Barbara County and most importantly it has an assembly seat that the Democrats would love to take, thus the huge donation to Dawn Ortiz Legg. The local central committee donated $80,000 to the Muratsuchi for Assembly campaign. Al Muratsuchi is a Democrat who is running for election in Los Angeles county. The last time he ran, he was defeated by a Republican by a mere 500 votes out of 61,435 votes cast. The Democrats want this seat very badly.
So, what makes this seem like a laundry for campaign funds? We have huge amounts of cash going into the local Democratic Committee from many entities who have no relationship with our county and that same wheelbarrow full of money going to campaigns that have nothing to do with Del Norte County. That is a great way to hide the true source of the money.
It looks like their secret is out. The on line publication called, “The Nooner, an inside look at California politics and policy,” which is published every day at noon, said tis, “Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva. Her campaign received $200,000 from the California Democratic Party and $50,000 from the Del Norte County Democratic central Committee. That’s $11 per registered Democrat in our uppermost coastal county. Of course, the money came from special interests, including Blue Shield, PG&E, CA Professional Firefighters and the Professional Engineers in California Government.”
“It’s laughable that Del Norte–which wants to succeed to the State of Jefferson–is being used to launder money exceeding contribution limits that couldn’t be directly given to the candidates until it’s put through the wash cycle of a tiny party central committee.”
We also hear that a complaint has been filed to the “Fair Political Practices Commission.” The outcome of that complaint should be very interesting.