Chamber Launches Measure D Ad and Latest Disclosure

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The Chamber of Commerce PAC has launched their first major ad. The bulk of it is on the parks tax, Measure D, while a single line is dedicated in support of their endorsed candidates.

Executive Director Kemble Pope sent the email to Thomas Randall, the only known opponent to the parks measure.

Mr. Pope writes: “The Davis Municipal Code is silent on whether Independent Expenditures (I.E.) made by Committees for Measures must be reported to both camps. So, in the spirit of the code’s intent for candidate I.E.’s, please accept this copy of an advertisement that the Davis Chamber PAC has paid for in support of Measure D.”

“The attached advertisement will be published in The Davis Enterprise on Sunday, May 20th. It cost a total of $598.50. 1/15 of the advertisement is dedicated to the three City Council candidates that the ChamberPAC has endorsed. SO, 1/15 of the total amount ($39.90) will be accounted to our candidate I.E. limit per the City of Davis Municipal Code,” Mr. Pope adds.

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In the meantime, the PAC funding overall has grown, with contributions expanding to over $14,369.  In addition to the newspaper advertising, it appears that they have made another major expenditure on the website design.

They have also now received four $1000 contributions from Alyce LLC, John Brinley, Inc, and West Yost Associates.  Also John Youmans has sent a $1000 personal contribution.

According to our count, $9375 of the $14,369 has been received in increments of more than $100 and therefore cannot be used in support or in opposition to candidates.  However, at this point, it does not appear that this is their priority as they have yet to have a major ad in the Enterprise supporting their candidates and the $4000-plus in donations received in $100 increments would be enough for a May 27 and/or June 3 ad.

However, $2394 of that $4000 is from a starting balance, which would likely make that money ineligible for use for council candidates as well.

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—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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31 Comments

  1. JustSaying

    “However, $2394 of that $4000 is from a starting balance, which would likely make that money ineligible for use for council candidates as well.”

    David, please explain this “from a starting balance” comment.

    David and Michael, did you ever resolve the conflicting advice from Harriet about the legality of the way the PAC is operating?

    Great ad, by the way!

  2. David M. Greenwald

    Look at the bottom of the second chart, it characterizes a certain amount from donations and a starting cash balance of 2394, which they do not disclose where it comes from, so I believe cannot be used on the candidates.

  3. medwoman

    I also thought this was a great ad. I only take exception to one part, namely the listing of Freirichs, Wolk, and Souza as supporting Measure D.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that Brett and Sue also support Measure D.
    While this does not even approach some of the disreputable tactics we have seen this election cycle, I do see it as a little misleading and have no idea whether or not that was intentional. If not intentional,I would give it a pass. If so, I would encourage the Chamber of Commerce PAC to rethink this strategy as at least one definite voter finds it questionable at best.

  4. hpierce

    C’mon Medwoman… It clearly is from the PAC, and they have clearly endorsed candidates. Will you criticize them for not listing me as supporting D? They would be deceptive if they said the other candidates opposed or did not support D. They didn’t do that. Obviously, you disagree with the PAC “slate”… as do I in some respects. I think your “questionable” comment is questionable…

  5. medwoman

    hpierce

    I disagree on three counts.
    1) You are not running for a council seat.
    2) The observation remains the same regardless of who I choose to vote for.
    3) I would agree with your comment if I thought that every voter follows the issues closely. I do not believe that to be the case. I believe that
    some voters probably are influenced by these types of fliers ( otherwise why would anyone pay to generate them ?)
    I stand by my objection.

  6. JustSaying

    Doesn’t medwoman have a point worth wondering about, though? The [u]implication[/u] of the statement that Frerichs, Wolk and Souza “support Yes on Measure D” is that the other two do not.

    The ad doesn’t even assert (or admit!) an endorsement of the three, just slips in some untrue innuendo about the other two. Viewed that way, maybe Pope is [u]over[/u]-reporting here. Fair to imply that? Not really, but in the history of campaign ad innuendo, hardly on the Top Ten list.

    Now, what if Sue would donate $500 to the Chamber PAC? In addition to reflecting her support for business in Davis, would she be able to insist on being included in candidate list of Measure D supporters in the next ad?

  7. Mark West

    “[i]The implication of the statement that Frerichs, Wolk and Souza “support Yes on Measure D” is that the other two do not.[/i]”

    Not at all. It is a positive, factual statement and makes no reference to any other candidate. Any implication is in your own mind. It is no different than advertising – ‘no other product cleans floors better’ – there may well be several other products on the market that will clean the floor ‘just as well’ but as long as there is no evidence that another product is in fact better, it is not false advertising. The authors of this advertisement are under no obligation to name all the candidates who support the measure.

    “[i]The ad doesn’t even assert (or admit!) an endorsement of the three, just slips in some untrue innuendo about the other two.[/i]”

    What statement in the ad is untrue?

  8. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Not at all. It is a positive, factual statement and makes no reference to any other candidate. Any implication is in your own mind.[/quote]

    Well said! It appears the Chamber of Commerce is doing what is legally required/necessary for transparency…

  9. medwoman

    “It is a positive, factual statement and makes no reference to any other candidate. Any implication is in your own mind.”

    Precisely. And the part about any implication being “in your own mind” is of particular interest to me. Campaign ads, like any other ads are specifically intended to influence people’s thinking. Therefore what is in one’s own mind, or what can be planted there, is of great value.
    I agree that the ad as written is both positive and factual. And I also feel that what it omits, namely the position of the nonendorced candidates, is significant.
    That was my only intent in writing my comment. I was not making any attempt to claim illegality or lack of transparency.

  10. Adam Smith

    I do not believe this ad is misleading at all. It simply states that the PAC’s chosen three candidates are for Measure D. There is no need for the PAC to educate the public regarding the positions of the other three candidates. That is where negative campaigning usually begins.

    If Brett Lee were to run an ad for himself, stating that he was for measure D, would that imply that the others are not? Would you believe he should state that the other candidates stand for the same measures as him?

  11. Don Shor

    [i]”It simply states that the PAC’s chosen three candidates are for Measure D.”
    [/i]
    It makes no reference to them being the ChamberPAC’s chosen candidates.

  12. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I do not believe this ad is misleading at all. It simply states that the PAC’s chosen three candidates are for Measure D. There is no need for the PAC to educate the public regarding the positions of the other three candidates. That is where negative campaigning usually begins.

    If Brett Lee were to run an ad for himself, stating that he was for measure D, would that imply that the others are not? Would you believe he should state that the other candidates stand for the same measures as him?[/quote]

    Well said! I see nothing misleading about this campaign literature…

  13. JustSaying

    The ad does not acknowledge that the chamber is endorsing the three named candidate, just gives them credit for agreeing with the chamber’s Yes on D stand. Why doesn’t the ad–which is a “Vote Yes on D” ad, not a “Vote for these guys” ad–list the other two candidates (who also support D)?

    That’s the way innuendo works: It just implies without saying it. What this suggests is that G & L don’t support D because F, W & F are the only ones listed as supporting it. That’s the “statement” that’s untrue, Mark (Your analogy would be closer to this situation if the cleaner ad claimed “no other product cleans floors.”)

    No one says this is illegal or untrue or a big deal. But, it’s a pretty sneaky approach. To claim it’s just a reaffirmation of the chamber’s support suggests that many voters even know who the chamber is endorsing.

    In fact, upon more reflection on medwoman’s comment and the reactions, I’m thinking this is an especially effective candidate campaign advertisement disguised as a Measure D ad.

    Think about it. How many of the council-supported candidates (Frerichs, Wolk and Souza) can expect votes that will come close to the number that will vote “yes”? Every voter already voting “yes”–and that’s more than half of electorate–who this ad convinces to also vote for a like-minded D supporter is a vote for Frerichs, Wolk and Souza.

    Maybe Kemble ought to be reporting the full expenditure of $598.50 as funding for one of the world’s best subliminal candidate campaign advertisements. I’m impressed.

  14. davisite2

    If they were being “community-minded” and its purpose was to support the passage of Measure D as they claim, it clearly would have been more effective to indicate that ALL the candidates support Measure D. This ad should alert everyone that the Davis Business PAC is an entity that needs to be held under close scrutiny as it attempts to put on a benign community face while, in reality, interested in promoting their own business interests.

  15. medwoman

    “I do not believe this ad is misleading at all. It simply states that the PAC’s chosen three candidates are for Measure D. There is no need for the PAC to educate the public regarding the positions of the other three candidates. That is where negative campaigning usually begins. “

    I can certainly see how you could have interpreted the ad this way. As a matter of fact, this is how I interpreted it the second time I read it.
    I only posted as I did because, I interpreted it as potentially misleading when I first read it. Having inferred as I did from the first reading, a conclusion that the authors may or may not have been implying, I felt that others might have also interpreted it as I did at first. I also thought that I had made it clear that I felt that this might, or might not have been intentional.

    As for your question about what Brett Lee should include in an add, I would gain a great deal of respect for him if he were to make a statement such as…. Like my opponents, I favor Meaure D. Where we differ is ……”

    Also, I think that context does matter. This is a paid political ad. I think it is safe to conclude that the intent of the piece is to sway voters opinions in favor of their positions and candidates.

  16. Don Shor

    “This portion of A Prairie Home Companion brought to you with the best wishes of Old Folks at Home Cottage Cheese…the name you’ve gradually come to trust since 1939….Old Folks at Home Cottage Cheese — the only cottage cheese that says right on the label: contains no arsenic and no formaldehyde. Do other brands make that same promise? Old Folks at Home does. Creamy goodness, a fair price, and no arsenic or formaldehyde. That’s Old Folks at Home…”

  17. nprice

    Um, let’s see. Do Mr. Kemble and other staff have to report time on organizing/creating/overseeing/vetting the ad and website with, of course, the help of consultants?

    About the ad and what naming the other two candidates who Do Also support Measure D:

    In a famous case of Monsanto against the Vermont Organic Dairy Farmers who wanted to label their milk as free of bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Monsanto won the case on the grounds of First Amendment free speech rights, that is: they had a right as a corporate person “endowed” with Constitutional Rights to remain silent on their use of rBGH (shown to be harmful to cows and people) and that the free speech right of the organic dairy famers to label infringed on their free speech right not to label and remain silent. That is: if the VT dairy farmers labelled their milk, Monsanto would have to label their milk to say…what?

    And so it goes with corporate rights and PAC transparency…PACs can do anything they want to do and make any claims they wish.

  18. Matt Williams

    David M. Greenwald said . . .

    [i]”Look at the bottom of the second chart, it characterizes a certain amount from donations and a starting cash balance of $2,394, which they do not disclose where it comes from, so I believe cannot be used on the candidates.”[/i]

    I sought out Kemble to learn more about the $2,394 balance forward. What Kemble showed me was the check register for the PAC account that he inherited from (I believe) John Youmans who headed up the previous incarnation of the Chamber’s PAC. It appears that the $2,394 is from prior years and prior elections, and as such my suspicion is that none of it can be used for candidate specific activities. In essence it has now been used to pay for the first $2,394 of non-candidate expenses in the list shown above.

  19. Jim Frame

    I also find the candidate mention at the bottom of the ad misleading, and believe it to be intentionally so. I do, however, think that the PAC has the right to make it.

    It’s a good example of why I rarely contribute to PACs: their interests rarely match up very closely with mine. I prefer to support my specific interests with direct contributions, but I understand why many people are content with the shotgun approach.

    .

  20. Jim Frame

    From the ChamberPAC “About Us” page:

    [quote]The sole funding source for the PAC is voluntary contributions by individual members of the Davis Chamber of Commerce.[/quote]

    Is Chamber membership really required to donate to the PAC? Is it some sort of legal requirement, a voluntary restriction, or an inaccurate statement?

    P.S. to ChamberPAC administration: Out of curiosity I looked at the DavisWiki page for the ChamberPAC, and it looks like someone’s been making mischief there. (“They also believe in unconditional love. Have you hugged your neighbor today?”) Some editing would seem to be in order.

    .

  21. medwoman

    Jeff


    That is a very good ad appealing the the objective business-minded voter. Our PAC dollars doing good work for the community!”

    This statement makes the assumption that PAC dollars used to do good work for the “objective business – minded voter” equates to “good work
    for the community. I would not consider these two to be synonymous in all cases.
    Example on each side in my opinion:
    Good for business and community – the recent increase in public space art. Some lovely, some whimsical, some ????, but all interesting, entertaining and enjoyable. Thanks private donors and arts community.
    Good for business and not so much for community – push for increased parking, and increased cars in downtown. Good for business, not to the benefit of those of us living in this area who would prefer less noise, less pollution, less car vs pedestrian and bike risk, or those of us who appreciate that encouragement of the use of cars discourages healthier behaviors.

  22. Frankly

    Medwoman, my point was that the ad made rational cost-benefit argument, instead of an emotional one. It explained what we are getting for our tax dollars and made an appeal to us based on a value-proposition. This is refreshing in an age where many political adds related to tax increases target the fear of loss… and appeal to the emotions of voters prone to vote more from their heart than their head. An example of that type of ad would be pictures of an overgrown park with dead grass and a plea to vote to increase taxes.

    So the PAC is doing a community service with this type of advertising. That was my only point.

  23. newshoundpm

    The Davis Chamber PAC assumed that Davis had a reasonably intelligent electorate that would be bright enough to figure that if a Chamber PAC ad listed a candidate in a positive light, that the reasonable inference would be that they were supportive of that candidate. Utterly ridiculous to suggest that they should have listed the other candidates that suppported Measure D. By this sort of a standard, one must argue that the vast majority of advertising is objectionable. I bet those who thought the Chamber PAC should have indicated other candidates were also in support of Measure D would have also insisted that the Chamber PAC allocate an additional share of the cost of the add to candidate expenditures if it would have taken an extra line to say “and other candidates” after the three names.

  24. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]The Davis Chamber PAC assumed that Davis had a reasonably intelligent electorate that would be bright enough to figure that if a Chamber PAC ad listed a candidate in a positive light, that the reasonable inference would be that they were supportive of that candidate. Utterly ridiculous to suggest that they should have listed the other candidates that supported Measure D.[/quote]

    Amen!

  25. ScottMeehleib

    So the way I understand it, this is their little loophole around the municipal spending limits. Isn’t this why the co-mingling of funds to support both candidates and Measures is so controversial in the first place? They are only counting about $40 of this nearly $600 ad as candidate support? So, basically they could have dozens of large ads featuring puppies and valentine hearts, and as long as the names of the endorsed candidates make up only 1/15th of the ad space, then suddenly that makes it okay. If that’s the way it works, it’s so utterly ridiculous I’m nearly speechlless. It completely subverts the point of Municipal Code 12.01.035. People can use legalese jargon all they want to try to justify this, but it’s a disgrace and embarrassment to manipulate laws like this.

  26. ScottMeehleib

    Why does everybody keep ignoring the fact that Measure D is a lock and doesn’t need ANY ads in order to be passed? You really think the PAC cares that much about generating thousands of dollars for a Measure they know will almost certainly be passed? This is just their way of covertly slipping candidate names into a populist measure.

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