Guest Commentary: Yes on H Spent Nearly $1 Million to Less than $69,000 for the Opposition

Yes on Measure H Committee Total Expenditures and Accrued Expenses Approach $1 Million vs Less than $69,000 for the No on Measure H Committee

by Alan Pryor

A total of 19,787 votes were cast in the City of Davis Measure H ballot, according to the Yolo County Registrar of Voters, with 12,588 (63.62%) opposing the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus and 7,199 (36.38%)  supporting it.

The most recent Yes on Measure H financial disclosures made to the City for the period ending 6/30/22 showed total monetary and in-kind expenditures and accrued expenses totaled $981,038. This works out to $136.27 for every “Yes” vote cast in the election. ($981,038 / 7,199 “Yes” votes). To date, all except $8,000 of these total expenditures were contributed or will need to be contributed by the two principals of the DISC project, Ramco Enterprises and Buzz Oates LLC of Sacramento.

By contrast, the most recent No on Measure H financial disclosures made to the City for the same period ending 6/30/22 showed total expenditures equaled  $68,771. This works out to $5.46 for every “No” vote cast in the election ($68,771 / 12,588 “No” votes). All of this money was contributed by 201 individual donors or lenders to the campaign exhibiting broad community support for the No campaign as also reflected in the election outcome.

The “Yes” campaign spent approximately 14.3 times as much money than the “No” campaign on the election which is fairly consistent with past Measure J/R/D election campaigns. It is believed that Measure H is the most expensive Measure J/R/D campaign ever waged in Davis.

Major Monetary Expenditures and Accrued Expenses by the Yes on Measure H Campaign

The total expenditures by the Yes on Measure H campaign as of June 30 included $732,615 in monetary expenditures, $93,000 of in-kind expenditures, and $155,420 of accrued unpaid expenses. The major monetary expenditures and accrued expenses were for campaign consultants (including their external expenditures as agents for the Yes on Measure H campaign) and for legal expenses, as follows:

  1. Spafford and Lincoln – $378,906 was spent by the Yes on Measure H campaign for the campaign consultants, Spafford and Lincoln of Davis. Of this total, $75,708 was spent on 26 campaign operatives for voter outreach – most of whom were UC Davis students. Spafford and Lincoln also spent $18,000 with a company called Precinct Analytics for voter information and analysis and $12,817 on Davis Enterprise Ads. A total of $114,145 was spent by Spafford and Lincoln on all outside expenditures leaving $264,761 apparently retained by the principals of the company currently believed to be Andrew Kim, Wesley Sagewalker, and Patrick Curzon.
  2. KMP Strategies LLC – The 2nd largest expenditures ($225,000) by the Yes on Measure H campaign were for KMP Strategies from Granite Bay for campaign consulting, mailers, and online advertising. Of this amount, $141,733 was spent on outside campaign services including $78,723 to MailRite for printing and postage for mailers, $25,000 for Facebook ads, and $25,000 for other online ads.
  3. Nossaman LLP – $130,862 was spent by the Yes on Measure H campaign on Nossaman LLP which was the Los Angeles legal firm retained by the Yes on Measure H campaign committee to prosecute the lawsuit against the six authors and/or co-signers of the Argument Against Measure H ballot statement.

After ruling on the matter generally in favor of the defendants and making only very minor changes in the ballot statement language, Yolo County Superior Court Judge Dan Maguire also later ruled that Dan Carson must repay $42,209.25 in legal fees to the Counsel for the six defendants in the case. This amount was paid by the Yes on Measure H campaign to Strumwasser and Woocher through Nossaman LLP acting as their agent for payment.

Total expenditures by the Yes on Measure H committee related to the lawsuit against the six authors/signers of the Argument Against Measure H thus totaled $173,072 ($130,862 to Carson’s attorney, Nossaman LLP and $42,209.25 to the six defendant’s attorney, Strumwasser and Woocher).

  1. Taylor and Wiley – A total of $61,452 were spent or accrued on services provided by this Sacramento law firm. The majority of the charges are believed to be remittances for the services provided to the developer by Matt Kiesling of the firm who represented the developer during Advisory Commission and Council meetings and in various marketing-related forums and meetings during the campaign itself.
  2. Yolo County Democratic Party and Davis College Democrats – $5,000 was donated to the Yolo County Democratic Party and $2,000 was donated to the Davis College Democrats (at UC Davis). The precise purpose and/or use of these donations/expenditures was not disclosed in the Yes on Measure H Form 460 filings but each of these entities formally endorsed Yes on Measure H. In the endorsement process each of these groups allowed presentations to them by the Yes on Measure H campaign prior to endorsement while denying access for corresponding presentations by the No on Measure H campaign committee.
  3. The People’s Vanguard of Davis – $6,000 was paid to the Vanguard for “Online Ads” however no online ads for the Yes on Measure H campaign were ever observed to be run in the Vanguard.

Nonmonetary Contributions and Expenditures

  1. Ramco Enterprises and Buzz Oates LLC – A total of $85,000 in Nonmonetary Contributions and Expenditures were made by Ramco Enterprises and Buzz Oates LLC ($42,500 each) for “Polling“. This is believed to be for the telephonic push-polling conducted by Dynata, Inc of Plano TX very early in the campaign.
  2. Innovation and Sustainability PAC – $8,000 of nonmonetary contributions was provided the Yes on Measure H committee by the Innovation and Sustainability PAC for “campaign consulting” and “operational support“. Innovation and Sustainability PAC is an independent campaign committee whose “Founding Partners” are Andrew Kim, the Founding and Managing Director of Spafford and Lincoln and the Treasurer of the Yes on Measure H campaign and Patrick Curzon, also a Founding Director of Spafford and Lincoln.

Innovation and Sustainability PAC is identified as providing financial support for Launch Pad Project Management which is described as “a quarterly internship program designed for UC students and/or alumni interested in communications and project management.”  On their website, Launchpad Project Management states the website is “Paid For and Authorized by the Innovation and Sustainability PAC FPPC#: 1394565

According to the website for Launchpad,

We hope to train and equip young people with the tools and knowledge to be effective political campaign operatives, and then connect them to campaigns programs and projects that help advance environmental sustainability, economic opportunity and social responsibility.

Our campaign leadership team is driven by experienced political consultants with a proven track record of running successful campaigns. We’ve seen what works, yet we’re committed to innovative approaches and strategies and integrating best practices from private sector industry to maximize the ROI of our campaign programs.

​In the past, our team members helped create in-depth political analysis and election history reports for our target campaigns. These reports include voter-deficit modeling and win number modeling, based upon analysis of future voter-turnout projections. Our team has also done extensive public outreach programs focused on voter education and engagement. We also have specialized projects/programs focused on multi-media and digital engagement.

During early portions of the campaign, Davis residents received thousands of phone calls soliciting their “endorsements” for the Yes on Measure H campaign. The callers initially identified themselves as “volunteers” for the Yes on Measure H campaign but upon questioning some admitted they were being paid for their phone solicitation services. It is otherwise not disclosed what is the full scope of the services provided by the Innovation and Sustainability PAC and/or Launchpad to the campaign nor how many “volunteers”, employees, or independent contractors were being paid by Launchpad, Innovation and Sustainability PAC, or Spafford & Lincoln nor how much they were collectively paid for their services performed for the Yes on Measure H campaign.

Summary of Expenditures by Yes on Measure H Committee

Summary of Donations to the Yes on Measure H Committee

 

In addition to the $93, 000 in independent expenditures by the donors noted above,  as of June 30 a total of $733,952 in cash has been contributed to the Yes on Measure H committee by the project principals Buzz Oates and Ramco Enterprises.. An additional $154,086 still needs to be contributed to pay all accrued expenses incurred by the committee.

Alan Pryor is the Principal Officer and Treasurer of the No on Davis Innovation and Sustainable Campus Campaign Committee and one of the defending Real Parties of Interest in the lawsuit brought by Mr. Carson.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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6 Comments

    1. Ron Oertel

      Probably still cheaper than paying to get developer cronies into office, to bypass the will of a community entirely.

      Though these types of interests have had some recent success doing so at the state level. [edited]

      Some social “progressives” have aligned themselves with these interests (and take money from those interests for their campaigns). Same thing that’s always occurred, but usually (in the past) with “conservative” politicians.

  1. Ron Oertel

    In reference to the $1 million (which doesn’t appear to include all costs prior to the campaign), what does this tell you regarding the amount that the developers expected to gain, had DiSC been approved?

    Gotta be a lot more than $1 million.

    And, how much do you think that the “No” side had to gain, by “winning?  (I’d say “zero” – nothing but costs incurred by the No campaign.) No personal financial upside. There certainly are benefits, but they’re pretty much non-financial.

    Though there certainly is some financial cost to being stuck in traffic.

  2. Keith Y Echols

    I’m not sure what the point of this article is.  All it shows is the degree of irrational No Growth sentiment in Davis.  It also shows how much of  an uphill battle for progressive economic reform is going to be.

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