News


Huge campaign-funding discrepancy in water board race

In David and Goliath financial battle, challenger outspends incumbent 38-to-1

Two candidates vying for Palo Alto votes in the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board race are spending vastly different sums of money on their campaigns, with the challenger, Gary Kremen, outspending incumbent Brian Schmidt by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Kremen, founder of Match.com, is financially trouncing incumbent Brian Schmidt to the tune of more than $280,000. Much of it is in loans to the campaign from Kremen himself. Schmidt, meanwhile, has raised roughly $13,000, according to campaign-disclosure statements filed in Santa Clara County on Monday.

The two filings reveal a considerable difference in approaches, with Kremen's campaign listing $303,067.50 in outstanding debts and Schmidt's balance sheet listing none. The filing statement, which covers the period from July 1 through Sept. 30, includes the contribution totals for the year to date and a list of donors.

Kremen has loaned his campaign $248,500, according to his filing; Schmidt has no loans, instead relying on small donations largely from retired persons, individuals and a few environmental groups. He has donated $500 to his own campaign, according to the filings.

Kremen lists $312,764.03 in total expenditures with $22,614.63 in remaining cash. His expenditures for the year to date include:

• Polling: $31,400, with the majority done in the first six months of his campaign

• Campaign consultants: $25,301, with more than $20,000 from July 1 through Sept. 30

• Web: $41,130 from July 1 through Sept. 30

• Campaign literature: $86,557

• Campaign paraphernalia: $33,734

• Professional services: Approximately $80,000

By contrast, Schmidt lists $8,209.05 in total expenditures with a $4,972.78 current cash balance. His year-to-date expenditures include:

• Literature: $2,495

• Yard signs: $1,422

The candidates' donor bases are also divergent. Kremen's includes Silicon Valley executives, venture capitalists, heads of solar firms, attorneys and politicians, including Palo Alto Mayor Nancy Shepherd.

Kremen's largest contributor, former California Controller Steve Westly, donated $10,000 as an individual. His firm, The Westly Group, invests and builds companies in socially and environmentally progressive companies, according to the firm's website.

Schmidt's contributors include members of local environmental and open-space organizations, who contributed as individuals, and prominent business people including Palo Alto developer Jim Baer and Buck's Restaurant owner Margaret MacNiven of Woodside, and environmentalists Lennie Roberts and former Palo Alto City Councilwoman Enid Pearson.

View the candidates' top contributors and financial totals

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Sex.com for water board
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2014 at 10:03 am

Oh my god that's insane. Why would anyone want to be on the water board that bad? Idle rich much?


4 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2014 at 10:52 am

It sure enough makes you wonder. What's the payoff for being on the Water Board?
Can he take more baths than the rest of us? Can he water the lawn more? What are we missing here?


8 people like this
Posted by Vanessa Warheit
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

I'm happy to see the Palo Alto Online reporting on this - it does indeed make you wonder. Brian Schmidt asked Kremen if he would abide by voluntary spending limits, and Kremen declined. Which, in itself, is egregious. Why should a millionaire have an advantage in a public election - especially when his opponent is a public-interest lawyer (and not another millionaire)?

Kremen is running on his experience as a businessman - so it's unlikely he's spending that much money on this race without a profit motive. But the Water District Director position only pays $2700/month - so the payoff won't come in a fat salary. Kremen is however, a founding investor in WaterSmart software - a water metering service for water utilities. [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:32 am

Why isn't there more discussion about how these two candidates feel about being on the water board? [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:53 am

As long as the money being spent in personal money, and not public money, there shouldn't be any restrictions. By all means, let's examine both candidates for potential conflicts of interest, but I don't want to dictate to Gary Kremen how he gets to spend his personal money.


1 person likes this
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

This piece is quite enlightening. I had no idea this was such a coveted position!


7 people like this
Posted by Rega
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 7, 2014 at 1:01 pm

The financial motive: Kremen is "a founding investor in WaterSmart software - a water metering service for water utilities." A guess: 280K may be worth it, if you want to increase demand for a product -- not, however, a good choice for citizens.


8 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 3:59 pm

> Kremen lists $312,764.03 in total expenditures

This is far too much money for this rather back-bench elected position.

BTW--Kremen signs are illegally being placed in the planter strips all over Palo Alto. If Mr. Kremen, or any of his campaign workers, is reading this--please remove these signs as quickly as possible.


3 people like this
Posted by Czech Him Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 4:03 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Sign blight
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Ditto on the sign blight. The city should be removing signs from public land. When I see signs in places that are obviously not associated with a home, I seriously discount all of a candidate's signs. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Go_Brian
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2014 at 4:46 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by S
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2014 at 6:43 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Adam
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Go_Brian
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Gary Kremen: Sex.Com money in Politics
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Jay Ess
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm

It is interesting that Gary is supported by big politicians. do you suppose that he is giving big contributions to their election. This is a non- partisan position so why is the democratic party supporting him???

[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Paul Davis
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:03 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:09 pm

@ Rega

"The financial motive: Kremen is "a founding investor in WaterSmart software - a water metering service for water utilities." A guess: 280K may be worth it, if you want to increase demand for a product -- not, however, a good choice for citizens."

Thanks for the info. If you want answers, follow the money trail.


4 people like this
Posted by Enough with Eshoo and Simitian
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 8, 2014 at 6:59 am

I agree with Paul Davis about the endorsements this time of politicians like Anna Eshoo and Joe Simitian. It seems to be all about money and insider politics, not who is actually best for the job. To me it shows contempt for the political process and their neighbors. [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

My Kremen has posted signs illegally in the public media strip all over town - Middlefiled in front of churches, oregon expressway,etc. The city should fine candidates for littering $500 an occurence if they can't follow the rules.


5 people like this
Posted by FixTheCreek
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 9, 2014 at 10:10 am

FixTheCreek is a registered user.

I care #1 about the creek, #2 about this unfair tax and #3 about all other things.

Brian Schmidt [portion removed] says the water district cares about fixing the creek but has not pressured the state water board on this at all. Brian can get the water district to have a resolution for measure Q but can't put a resolution together denouncing the state walter people. Why is that? [Portion removed.]

The second issue I have with him is his support for the unfair tax for state water. We do not get this state water and we get our water from Hetch Hetchy and why do we have to pay the bill for those get state water. [Portion removed.]

Someone who spends his own money in a race is a non issue. In the race for water district, you have a guy who puts a lot of his own money where his mouth is. And he has a legion of followers who hold enough belief in him that they are willing to put their money where his mouth is. As long as it’s an open book showing where the money is coming from, I have no problem with it. If I guy has enough money to run for congress and is president of a water district now, why do we care?

[Portion removed.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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