Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, March 31, 2006

Pro-County Split Campaign Above the Law?

Interesting article in The Santa Barbara Independent today related to county-split advocate Jim Diani saying that the pro-Measure H campaign doesn't have to file a campaign finance report because they are a "non-profit educational" organization.

David Landecker, anti-split advocate, couldn't have said it better -- the law "couldn't be clearer"....or is that more clear? Anyway, what makes Diani think they are a 501(c)3 instead of (c)4? What's he hiding? Fact is they don't have a lot of support right now and the campaign will likely be beaten soundly at the ballot box.


Blogger David Pritchett said...

Good for Nick Welsh at the Indy for breaking that news and the Landecker challenge. Their funding in-disclosure was reported also nearly 3 years ago (see SMTimes article text below).

Former 5th District Supervisor Toru Miyoshi GRILLED Jim Diani about this during the public forum about the County Split sponsored by SBCAN and held on 02February2006 in Santa Maria.

As part of the "public comment" during this forum, Miyoshi calmly and steadily asked several ways who the funders of the Diani "split movement" were, and Diani ducked and dodged the issue many ways and just said that the full reports of their funding were somewhere held by a State agency. The capacity crowd of 150+ was not amused.

I recorded on video much of that SBCAN forum and the entire lively exchange between Miyoshi and Diani. Unfortunately, our production schedule is a bit slow to finish up producing the video, but this exchange will be featured in an episode of Off-Leash Public Affairs later in May 2006, and shown on community access cable TV channel 17.

Some more about Diani and Miyoshi are referenced at this local Santa Maria political blog (yes, a blog about Santa Maria politics!!)

As far back as May 2003, Santa Maria Times also reported the financial reporting theories by Diani et al. See text below for the full article:
In this split, it isn't easy to follow money
By Steve Corbett / Times Staff Columnist
May 1, 2003

Jim Diani didn't get where he is today by waffling.

Ask the Santa Maria construction company owner who leads the drive to split Santa Barbara County a straight question and you'll likely get a straight answer.

Just don't ask Diani where the money's coming from to fund the crusade to create Mission County.

The 52-year-old business executive clams up.

He'll talk about almost anything else -- business, the economy and the stranglehold he believes South County officials wield against North County business interests.

But this polite power broker who does business with some of California's most powerful industries -- including major contracts with government, the military and the space industry -- refuses to talk about who's bankrolling the split movement.

Following the money is not part of the public flow chart for Citizens For County Organization Inc., the nonprofit group Diani chairs.

When asked who's writing the checks, the man simply will not budge.

"Where does your money come from?" I asked Diani as we sat in his office at company headquarters Tuesday morning. "Who's funding this group? And why hasn't that come up in the discussion?"

"Partly because we haven't allowed it," Diani said.

He then launched the dodge that allows the separatist movement led by what Diani labels "business people" to hide behind its status as a "corporation organized and operated exclusively for social welfare purposes."

Diani said his group is not a political action committee because it's not political.

But what about the money?

"When that question is asked we say we're obligated under the law to file an annual return and that's the only information that we're going to give out," Diani said.

Would secret contributors' lists be part of the new and improved Mission County? Don't future leaders associated with this group want voters to know who they are? If people in the north part of the county matter so much that Diani and his group wants to lead us to a better place, why aren't we important enough for them to show us the money?

"Don't you think people have reason to question motives here?" I asked.

"Well, they might," Diani said. "But the other issue is that that has nothing to do with the issue."

I asked Diani to run that by me again.

"Releasing that information to the media so the media can scrutinize that and everybody scrutinize ... and the public ... takes away from the process. And the process is we want to get to a point where we turn this over to the state," he said.

Diani said that his movement's priority is the state study that will occur if petition passers gather enough voter signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

Diani's group also pays cash for each voter's signature the petitioners' collect.

Of course, big money is crucial for Diani's group to purchase, among other things, the services of a Santa Barbara public relations agency whose representatives are so partial to Republican interests that they circulate company business cards that show a picture of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis accompanied by a snide remark.

"Is it individuals, businesses, corporations that are making cash contributions to this group?" I asked Diani, who's a registered Republican.

"Yes," he said.

"How much money have you taken in so far?'

Diani said I could check the "lump sum" report his group is obligated to file by May 15 that will not include names of any contributor who gave less than $5,000.

So far, Diani said, nobody has given the group a $5,000 gift.

"At this point we're still in the middle of our fund raising," he said.

Diani said an initial $100,000 bank loan helped kick off the current campaign.

"We do have a $200,000 budget," he said. "I can tell you that."

But can you tell me how much cash you've taken in so far in this current campaign?

"I'm not going to release that information," Diani said.

So, you won't say how much money has been received or from where?

"That is correct," Diani said.

"We don't want people to try and make issues where there are no issues," Diani said.

No wonder Diani's so good at the construction business.

Nobody stonewalls better.

* Steve Corbett's column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. He can be reached at 739-2215 or e-mailed at Read Corbett online at

May 1, 2003

3/31/2006 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

Maybe, or likely, they are hiding that their contributors are corporate interests that will benefit by the urban and industrial sprawl that a new and desperate County of Mission will promote?

Just like the F-word or the N-word, we also have the equally offensive OCD-word:
Orange County Developer

3/31/2006 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

das is opposed to this split.

4/01/2006 11:28 AM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Joe, Janet and Dan are opposed to the split.

4/01/2006 5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bill supports the split

4/03/2006 6:07 PM  

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