News

Councilman Greg Tanaka faces complaint over campaign contributions

State agency yet to determine whether to investigate the accusations

Palo Alto City Councilman Greg Tanaka, who is running for reelection, is facing a complaint over a flurry of contributions he has received from local developers. Courtesy Greg Tanaka.

Months before Greg Tanaka formally declared his intention to run for another term on the Palo Alto City Council, he received a New Year's Eve gift from a group of local developers: campaign contributions totaling $13,000.

The contributions included $3,000 from 1050 Page Mill Road Property LLC, an entity associated with Sand Hill Property Company, and four $2,500 checks from four corporations associated with prominent landowners Thoits Brothers and Sal Giovannotto.

More checks came in two weeks later. Jon Goldman of Premier Properties contributed $2,500 to Tanaka on Jan. 14, while investor Richard Karp contributed $10,000.

The trend accelerated this summer after Tanaka declared his candidacy. After receiving $14,699 in total contributions as of June 30, Tanaka brought in $35,000 between July 29 and Aug. 12. He received $5,000 checks from Brad Ehikian, Charles "Chop" Keenan and John McNellis, all of whom are prominent downtown developers. Michael Powers, a partner in McNellis' real estate firm, contributed an additional $5,000, while developer Roxy Rapp contributed $10,000 to the Tanaka campaign.

On Aug. 12, Tanaka received two more contributions: $2,500 from Ventana Property Services, a property management company, and $1,000 from Christian Hansen, property manager for Wheatley Properties, according to his campaign finance documents.

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Support from the developer community isn't new for Tanaka, who has generally been associated with the council's more pro-growth faction. In recent years, he voted to repeal downtown's office cap and he opposed a 2018 citizen initiative that reduced the citywide cap on office and research-and-development growth from 1.7 million square feet to 850,000 square feet by 2030. He has also championed programs to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a grant program for small businesses and reduction of utility bills.

At the same time, Tanaka is now facing scrutiny for the December 2019 and January 2020 contributions, which he collected well before his new campaign committee was established. Campaign documents show that all of those contributions were made to the campaign, "Tanaka for Palo Alto City Council in 2016." He didn't file his "Candidate Intention Statement," known as Form 501, until July 11, according to the documents. He filed his Form 460, establishing a reelection committee, the following day.

By law, a candidate is required to file a Form 501 "before soliciting or receiving any contributions (including loans) or expending any funds," according to an election guide put out by the Office of the City Clerk.

"It is the responsibility of candidates and/or committees to be aware of and to file the required campaign disclosure statements in a timely manner," the guide states.

Earlier this month, the Fair Political Practices Committee received an anonymous complaint against Tanaka's campaign, alleging that he had failed to follow the rules when he accepted funding before creating a reelection committee. The complaint claims that Tanaka "has knowingly committed clear violations of law by both receiving illegal monetary contributions and making illegal expenditures from his 2016 campaign committee account months before filing a new 501 Form as legally required."

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The complaint claims that the violations in this complaint, combined with his failure in 2017 to disclose numerous contributions from developers (he agreed to pay $733 in fines), demonstrate "persistent attempts to shield the sources and amounts of his campaign contributions from public scrutiny by voters in this current election."

The complaint also points to Tanaka's expenditures in the early months of 2020 as evidence that he was using the contributions to his 2016 campaign to ramp up his reelection effort. Campaign finance documents show that he had spent $2,277 between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, with expenditures including ballot fees and fees to Google and NationBuilder, which specializes in campaign software. These expenditures were incurred well before he filed the paperwork for his reelection campaign.

The 2020 expenditures represent a significant increase in campaign spending for Tanaka, according to his filed statements. In 2018 and 2019, his expenditures for each six-month reporting period ranged from $207.57 to $321.97. In the six months prior to the New Year's Eve contributions, Tanaka's campaign had spent $301.15, his filings show.

The only other six-month period in which his campaign had reported significant spending was in the second half of 2017, when its $1,243.70 in expenditures included the $733 fine from the state.

"The one-month accumulation of over $25,000, between December 31, 2019 and January 31, 2020, by Mr. Tanaka's 2016 campaign committee with no nexus to ongoing office-holding expenses, and including expenses such as the voter database that directly correlate to campaign activities clearly implies changes in recipient committee information," the complaint states.

This week, Tanaka disputed the accusations and denied any wrongdoing. State law, he noted, allows campaigns of elected officials to continue to receive contributions after a successful election. The expenditures that his campaign made before July were not associated with his reelection effort but with his regular activities as a council member. This includes his regularly held office hours, during which he broadcasts on Facebook Live.

"That's what we were spending funds on, constituent outreach," Tanaka told this news organization.

When asked about the New Year's Eve contributions, which were made more than six months before he declared his intention to run again, Tanaka said the donations reflected the desire of community members to see him seek another four years on the council.

"There's a lot of people who support me and a lot of people who wanted to encourage me to run," Tanaka said. "I think people wanted to see me continue to serve on the council. There was enough support for me that convinced me to do that."

The FPPC informed Tanaka about the complaint in an Aug. 13 letter and has requested information from him to address the allegations. The agency has not made any determinations about the allegations in the complaint, the letter from the FPPC's Enforcement Division states.

"Upon receipt of your response, we will review the information to determine whether or not to investigate the allegations," the letter from the FPPC's Enforcement Division states.

View the full complaint here.

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Councilman Greg Tanaka faces complaint over campaign contributions

State agency yet to determine whether to investigate the accusations

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 9:53 am

Months before Greg Tanaka formally declared his intention to run for another term on the Palo Alto City Council, he received a New Year's Eve gift from a group of local developers: campaign contributions totaling $13,000.

The contributions included $3,000 from 1050 Page Mill Road Property LLC, an entity associated with Sand Hill Property Company, and four $2,500 checks from four corporations associated with prominent landowners Thoits Brothers and Sal Giovannotto.

More checks came in two weeks later. Jon Goldman of Premier Properties contributed $2,500 to Tanaka on Jan. 14, while investor Richard Karp contributed $10,000.

The trend accelerated this summer after Tanaka declared his candidacy. After receiving $14,699 in total contributions as of June 30, Tanaka brought in $35,000 between July 29 and Aug. 12. He received $5,000 checks from Brad Ehikian, Charles "Chop" Keenan and John McNellis, all of whom are prominent downtown developers. Michael Powers, a partner in McNellis' real estate firm, contributed an additional $5,000, while developer Roxy Rapp contributed $10,000 to the Tanaka campaign.

On Aug. 12, Tanaka received two more contributions: $2,500 from Ventana Property Services, a property management company, and $1,000 from Christian Hansen, property manager for Wheatley Properties, according to his campaign finance documents.

Support from the developer community isn't new for Tanaka, who has generally been associated with the council's more pro-growth faction. In recent years, he voted to repeal downtown's office cap and he opposed a 2018 citizen initiative that reduced the citywide cap on office and research-and-development growth from 1.7 million square feet to 850,000 square feet by 2030. He has also championed programs to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a grant program for small businesses and reduction of utility bills.

At the same time, Tanaka is now facing scrutiny for the December 2019 and January 2020 contributions, which he collected well before his new campaign committee was established. Campaign documents show that all of those contributions were made to the campaign, "Tanaka for Palo Alto City Council in 2016." He didn't file his "Candidate Intention Statement," known as Form 501, until July 11, according to the documents. He filed his Form 460, establishing a reelection committee, the following day.

By law, a candidate is required to file a Form 501 "before soliciting or receiving any contributions (including loans) or expending any funds," according to an election guide put out by the Office of the City Clerk.

"It is the responsibility of candidates and/or committees to be aware of and to file the required campaign disclosure statements in a timely manner," the guide states.

Earlier this month, the Fair Political Practices Committee received an anonymous complaint against Tanaka's campaign, alleging that he had failed to follow the rules when he accepted funding before creating a reelection committee. The complaint claims that Tanaka "has knowingly committed clear violations of law by both receiving illegal monetary contributions and making illegal expenditures from his 2016 campaign committee account months before filing a new 501 Form as legally required."

The complaint claims that the violations in this complaint, combined with his failure in 2017 to disclose numerous contributions from developers (he agreed to pay $733 in fines), demonstrate "persistent attempts to shield the sources and amounts of his campaign contributions from public scrutiny by voters in this current election."

The complaint also points to Tanaka's expenditures in the early months of 2020 as evidence that he was using the contributions to his 2016 campaign to ramp up his reelection effort. Campaign finance documents show that he had spent $2,277 between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, with expenditures including ballot fees and fees to Google and NationBuilder, which specializes in campaign software. These expenditures were incurred well before he filed the paperwork for his reelection campaign.

The 2020 expenditures represent a significant increase in campaign spending for Tanaka, according to his filed statements. In 2018 and 2019, his expenditures for each six-month reporting period ranged from $207.57 to $321.97. In the six months prior to the New Year's Eve contributions, Tanaka's campaign had spent $301.15, his filings show.

The only other six-month period in which his campaign had reported significant spending was in the second half of 2017, when its $1,243.70 in expenditures included the $733 fine from the state.

"The one-month accumulation of over $25,000, between December 31, 2019 and January 31, 2020, by Mr. Tanaka's 2016 campaign committee with no nexus to ongoing office-holding expenses, and including expenses such as the voter database that directly correlate to campaign activities clearly implies changes in recipient committee information," the complaint states.

This week, Tanaka disputed the accusations and denied any wrongdoing. State law, he noted, allows campaigns of elected officials to continue to receive contributions after a successful election. The expenditures that his campaign made before July were not associated with his reelection effort but with his regular activities as a council member. This includes his regularly held office hours, during which he broadcasts on Facebook Live.

"That's what we were spending funds on, constituent outreach," Tanaka told this news organization.

When asked about the New Year's Eve contributions, which were made more than six months before he declared his intention to run again, Tanaka said the donations reflected the desire of community members to see him seek another four years on the council.

"There's a lot of people who support me and a lot of people who wanted to encourage me to run," Tanaka said. "I think people wanted to see me continue to serve on the council. There was enough support for me that convinced me to do that."

The FPPC informed Tanaka about the complaint in an Aug. 13 letter and has requested information from him to address the allegations. The agency has not made any determinations about the allegations in the complaint, the letter from the FPPC's Enforcement Division states.

"Upon receipt of your response, we will review the information to determine whether or not to investigate the allegations," the letter from the FPPC's Enforcement Division states.

View the full complaint here.

Comments

Nonsense
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:26 am
Nonsense, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:26 am
13 people like this

Politicians, even other Palo Alto Councilmembers, are always raising money in between campaigns, why is this even news?


Anonymous complaint?
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:31 am
Anonymous complaint?, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:31 am
9 people like this

It looks like some candidates are up to dirty campaign tactics. They should run based on their strengths. Kou was sending out nationbuilder surveys before she filed her 501, so what's going on with that? On the other hand, Tanaka reported everything and has been the most transparent candidate.


Follow the money
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:34 am
Follow the money, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:34 am
97 people like this

For those tempted to embrace Mr. Tanaka's carefully crafted campaign messaging that he will "keep City Hall working for you," take a close look. His campaign funding overwhelmingly comes from big developers and their allies. And through two election cycles Mr. Tanaka has skirted the campaign finance reporting rules to try to hide that fact from voters.

A few years back, under political pressure, he even returned a $5,000 donation from the family of a project proponent (429 University) on the eve of voting to approve the project - only to immediately (within days) have his coffers refilled by another developer. Web Link


Neighbor
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:37 am
Neighbor, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:37 am
8 people like this

Hmm... this seems to be an error of some sort...why leave a poorly researched and false complaint?
Why waste time even reporting this false complaint? No gain from this.


Palo Alto Resident
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:42 am
Palo Alto Resident, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:42 am
79 people like this

The main point here is that Tanaka is proudly bought and paid for by commercial developers. He is literally in their pockets, and makes sure he is getting paid for his services year round, not just at election time.

I didn't know his slogan was "Keep City Hall working for you." I'm sure that's exactly the pitch he makes to the big developers!

Once somebody shows who they are, it's no longer shameful - the problem is really ours if we choose to re-elect such a person.


Stop the Denial
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:43 am
Stop the Denial, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:43 am
62 people like this

Greg Tanaka - why may you again be running an unethical campaign even on your second try? You need to lay-off your Energizer Bunny fundraising for a moment and think about the consequences for your campaign of serving the interests of a few, mostly out of town big Real Estate developers, rather than the residents of Palo Alto who you need to vote for you.

Based on your potential legal jeopardy, your funky fundraising, and your city council pro-development, anti-renter voting record, residents see you couldn’t possibly put our interests first. Private moneyed Real Estate Developers have invested over $50,000 in your campaign so far according to your financial filings, and surely they expect a lot of representation in return. I would.

Surely your viability as a candidate has plunged with the revelation of your actions. Unlike Liz Kniss’s 2017 FPPC pending investigation, this early Complaint and potential violations will dog you from now to Election Day.

Voters may follow the money as Deep Throat said, by viewing Tanka’s financial filings and required forms at the City Clerk’s website.

Web Link



Tanaka listened to me
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:45 am
Tanaka listened to me, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:45 am
18 people like this

Tanaka has done a great job listening to constituents repeatedly every Sunday for 4 years and acted accordingly. I spoke with him about an issue in my neighborhood and he really helped. I haven't seen other council people do that. There's also an implication that developer money is bad money which doesn't make sense. Developers don't want to destroy a community but improve it. I don't get what this article is saying.


Mark Weiss
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:48 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:48 am
11 people like this

I’d like to know more about Greg Tanaka’s day job. How has founding and running Percolata helped him run Palo Alto? What in the recent history of Percolata indicates or informs how four more years of Tanaka’s leadership benefits We The People?


Guilty until proven innocent?
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:55 am
Guilty until proven innocent?, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:55 am
12 people like this

This seems like a political hit job and the various commenters seem to prove that out. After a quick review of the disputed items, it looks like regular expenses of an elected official. Google doesn't merely provide a campaign service as implied by the author but also provides email, document and other services on an ongoing basis through regular subscription payments. That's not campaigning. Nationbuilder powers most political websites and also makes works as a subscription service. Taking a website down or halting email doesn't make sense.

The worst part though is the FPPC complaint process being used as a political tool. A candidate can make one unclear expenditure in an arcane filing and get needlessly attacked like this here.


Observer
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:03 am
Observer, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:03 am
13 people like this

The most severe thing to come out of any contribution shenanigans would be an investigation by the FPPC - big deal. They still haven't reached any conclusions or taken any action re the almost-three-year-ago campaign contribution malfeasance by Liz Kniss (unbelievable misstatements and omissions in reporting). The FPPC seems to be a toothless and timid enforcement vehicle.


Follow the money
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:03 am
Follow the money, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:03 am
57 people like this

@guilty until proven innocent:

Well, he was found guilty and sanctioned on three separate counts in 2016 Web Link

How far should we extend the benefit of the doubt?


Guilty until proven innocent?
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:14 am
Guilty until proven innocent?, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:14 am
10 people like this

@follow - What does an already settled non-issue from 2016 have to do with an unfounded political attach in 2020? Answer - nothing. They're unrelated.


Go developers
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:23 am
Go developers, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:23 am
9 people like this

Why are developers considered bad in Palo Alto? They take risks to revitalize and develop new projects which increase the value of neighboring properties. They bring new opportunities for housing, employment and various other forms of good. They go through ridiculously rigorous rules to be successful with numerous checks and balances. How is this a bad thing?


William X
Registered user
Charleston Gardens
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:25 am
William X, Charleston Gardens
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:25 am
9 people like this

Its easy to take pot shots about how Greg is 'in the pocket of developers' and 'is bought', but consider this: has Greg ever said something out in public and immediately contradicted it with a vote to the contrary to support a donor?

In other words, if Greg is truly bought and paid for, what evidence is there to suggest that he has gone out of his way to support his donors? Pro-growth came out of a commitment to meet the demand of voters - not to satisfy the whims of developers.


Al
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:26 am
Al, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:26 am
17 people like this

Council are supposed to represent the interests of their citizens, and are expected to make good decisions based on data and facts, not based on shady models promoted by special interest groups. A bigger problem is lack of accountability! Take a look at "all electric ordinance" as an example. The study used to support this decision was done by PG&E and Souther Edison and heavily influenced by people with ties to solar industry. Without an impartial analysis and with disregard to the health and safety of those vulnerable (elderly and those with medical conditions), slogans like, "Let's follow Berkeley's lead and adopt all electric ordinance..." or "electrification lowers impact on emissions". No one questions why one should follow a 2nd rated city and school? No one asks how more demand on electricity can be met by not burning more gas? The fires in the last 2 days have made up for anything fictitious the City could have saved on emissions, in the next 500 years. The council need to hold themselves accountable for all decisions they make, good or bad. Are they?


Kevin
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:26 am
Kevin, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:26 am
9 people like this

Just read through the article and IMO it seems like this is just a whole lot of nothing. I've never really followed Tanaka closely, but this seems like it was a false report. He didn't violate any laws that I can see...


anon1234
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:27 am
anon1234, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:27 am
26 people like this

[Post removed.]


Kathy
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:46 am
Kathy , Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:46 am
8 people like this

[Post removed.]


Neighbor
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:46 am
Neighbor, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:46 am
8 people like this

[Post removed.]


Bribery
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:04 pm
Bribery, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:04 pm
73 people like this

It is HIGHLY concerning to me that a Palo Alto city council candidate is receiving 10,000 dollar donations from big developers. [We need campaign contribution limits - this is ridiculous]. These developers are not giving Tanaka their money out of the goodness of their heart - they have specific interests in this city, like building more and more office space, and they are paying Tanaka to protect their interests on City Council. And Tanaka has proven that protecting billionaire interests is exactly what he will do - he voted to remove the cap on office space, which would make it WAY harder to build any housing.

When a company or individual gives $10,000 to a candidate, not because they believe in the platform, but because they expect the candidate to protect their interests on City Council, that isn't a donation. [Portion removed.]

To everyone complaining that the complaint is anonymous, try reading the content of the complaint first. There is a very legitimate cause for concern, and if you cannot see the harm Tanaka is poised to do to this community, you are part of the problem.


Gale Johnson
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:37 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:37 pm
8 people like this



To all commenters. Take your strong feelings to a real poll booth or mail your ballots in early. Sadly, there won't be any in person debates leading up to the election.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:47 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:47 pm
11 people like this

What about virtual debates? This is Sillycone Valley after all.


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:51 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:51 pm
11 people like this

I'm heartened to see that the voting population is getting smarter at identifying campaign PR tricks, even for local elections. Maybe all this partisanship at the federal level has finally awakened the population to what really goes on under the covers.

[Portion removed.]


Curmudgeon
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:58 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:58 pm
19 people like this

There is only one thing to do: Pool our contributions, outbid the developer community, and buy our government back!


He is in the pocket of developers
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2020 at 1:30 pm
He is in the pocket of developers, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 1:30 pm
62 people like this

As others have stated. This just makes clear what we have known all along. He is paid by and works for developers and wants to turn Palo Alto into San Francisco with all the crowds and blight.

He votes pro-development reliably but if you have ever watched him at a city council meeting he is totally uninformed and doesn't know what is going on. He doesn't read the packet of information that is sent out for weekly meetings, he asks clueless questions, and he is rude.

He claims he cares about city finances but when has he ever worked hard to significantly change the workings of the budget or the pensions? Other council members actually do the hard work to chip away at problems given the constraints of state law and union rules while Tanaka rants and doesn't do a darn thing except vote for more development to destroy quality of life in Palo Alto. He is the perfect "windbag" politician who pretends to do things but really just passes out goodies to his developer friends.

Time to vote him out. Vote Kou and Lauing to slow growth and protect Palo Alto quality of life.


This is news because...
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2020 at 1:55 pm
This is news because..., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 1:55 pm
53 people like this

This is news because it appears Mr. Tanaka violated FPPC rules. The evidence shown in this article is pretty damning.

We are nation of laws. We should hold our electeds to a very high bar on compliance with law. THAT is why this is news. It absolutely should be reported. The FPPC investigation should careful but quick, in order to inform voters. I hope local press will stay on top of it. I hope the allegations are wrong, but from the numbers, it looks like it he did not comply with reporting rules which are in place for good reasons--so voters can know who is in the pocket of whom.

Also, everyone be aware that it is not correct that there will be "no candidate debates this year." While the debates won't be in person, many groups, including the League of Women Voters, are planning online forums where we can hear from all of the candidates.

Stay engaged. Local elections are critically important to our quality of life--especially this year. Our next City Council will be coping with Covid and the economic impacts of the pandemic. We will need disciplined, experienced, leaders because they are in for a rough ride, and so are we. Character matters.


Tom DuBois
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 19, 2020 at 2:13 pm
Tom DuBois, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 2:13 pm
62 people like this

This is between Greg, the Fair Political Practices Commission and the voters of Palo Alto.

I do want to comment on what is typical for an elected official in terms of "regular" expenses. Having been on Council for six years, there is no need to raise funds continuously as a local elected representative. This isn't the US Senate. Expenses outide of campaigning are very minimal even to maintain an online presence and host sessions on Facebook or Youtube which are largely free.

As an example, if I recieved a $10,000 donation for non-campaigning uses, I could fund my expenses for about 50 years.


John
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2020 at 2:24 pm
John, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 2:24 pm
6 people like this

It's amusing how many people truly believe that Councilman Tanaka broke ANY rules here. He clearly abided by the rules, so the complaint is null and void. It is shameful that the FPPC requirements to reply to complaints are being weaponized for a seat on the council. Clearly, the "Anonymous" person seeks to benefit their campaign from this report. Who would have known that Palo Alto local politics are so dirty?


Sheri
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 19, 2020 at 2:47 pm
Sheri, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 2:47 pm
25 people like this

@Online Name
Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN) is hosting a virtual Council Candidates Forum on Thursday, October 1, from 7-9pm, run by the Midpen Media Center. Details to follow soon.


Stop the Denial
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2020 at 2:54 pm
Stop the Denial, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 2:54 pm
38 people like this

Denial coninues in the face of the law and commonsense.
You all can try to distract from what Greg Tanaka did, using the old tired strategy of shooting the messenger, but what he did is backed-up by his own paper trail filed with our City Clerk. Yours and his denials can't change evidence or California election laws.
And will he now seem so valuable an investment as before?
Maybe Tanaka's rich developer buddies know some high powered attorneys for him in his time of need?


TMH
Registered user
Mayfield
on Aug 19, 2020 at 3:17 pm
TMH, Mayfield
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 3:17 pm
39 people like this

These huge monetary contributions by developers always comes with "strings attached" -- at the very least this should be considered extremely unethical and Mr. Tanaka should return the money. Keeping this money for his campaign war chest shows the community that big contributors -- such as developers -- should have more access and their thoughts given more weight than the average citizen. Do you really believe that these developers want "nothing" for their large contributions? Of course, not! Shame on you, Mr. Tanaka -- return the money immediately!


ALB
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2020 at 4:19 pm
ALB, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 4:19 pm
41 people like this

It is revealing when an incumbent, Greg Tanaka, places his campaign signs in city strips when he knows full well that these actions violate campaign law. [Portion removed.]


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2020 at 4:48 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 4:48 pm
1 person likes this

All this from an "anonymous complaint." Sounds almost Stasi-like.

(speaking of unethical....)

I'm laughing at the astroturfing comments here. [Portion removed.]


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2020 at 5:31 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 5:31 pm
26 people like this

@Sheri, thanks so much for the info about the 10/1 virtual debate. I hope there's a way for us to submit questions.

@Me 2, I don't think your astroturfing comment is fair. 4 seats are up for grabs and some of us, myself included, know who our top candidate(s) are but are still undecided about the others.

As I posted in the Ajit Varma topic, who's funding whom is critically important when lobbyists for big tech are paid close to $1,000,000 ($900,000 to be specific) to ensure that nothing interferes with their clients' interest.

Liz Kniss's case remains unresolved re her campaign funding disclosures. Yet she's continued to serve her entire term and to cast the deciding vote since the CC is usually split 4/3. So you might see why there's a bit of sensitivity to the issue of who's funding whom.

I like Tanaka's apparent focus on fiscal responsibility wish other CC members and candidates would question the city's spending -- like giving all city workers a 3% raise during the shutdown. But I sure I don't want to get burned again. Too much is at stake.


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2020 at 5:39 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 5:39 pm
2 people like this

[Post removed.]


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2020 at 5:48 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 5:48 pm
8 people like this

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Mark Weiss
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2020 at 6:27 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 6:27 pm
20 people like this

I think Greg Tanaka is the worst council member out of the last 25 I have met, on numerous criteria.
To the point about whether he thinks rules about contributions or sign placement apply to him, I have a photo of him riding his skateboard down the halls at Cubberley, right past a sign that says NO SKATEBOARDING.


Kathy
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Aug 19, 2020 at 7:47 pm
Kathy , Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 7:47 pm
21 people like this

Speaking of campaign finance, it looks like there is an independent expenditure PAC (Political Action Committee) backing Raven Malone, City Council candidate, a relatively new resident in Palo Alto. FPPC Form 496 (Independent Expenditure) filing in Ms. Malone's FPPC filings. What's that about?
Web Link


Mark Weiss
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2020 at 9:29 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
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on Aug 19, 2020 at 9:29 pm
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I’ve run three times without ever filing, having self financed and spending less than $1,000. Not sure if @Kathy’s link indicates a PAC for Raven Malone. But my takeaway is she is drawing support from local leaders like Cory Wolbach, Valerie Stinger and Jennifer DiBrienza; she has support from people in the military and defense contractors, plus her partner.
Good luck, Raven.


Kathy
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Aug 20, 2020 at 10:11 am
Kathy , Evergreen Park
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on Aug 20, 2020 at 10:11 am
11 people like this

@Mark Weiss --- I'm referring to FPPC campaign finance and campaign committee filings. There is a Form 496 filing for an Independent Expenditure group, which isn't typical for a City Council race, but which Alison Cormack benefitted from last race. What's this all about? Can check on it here: Web Link and type in malone.


Douglas Moran
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 20, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Douglas Moran, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 20, 2020 at 5:00 pm
16 people like this

Raven Malone creating an IEC (Independent Expenditure Committee) rather than a Campaign Committee is probably a misunderstanding by her team. An IEC is legally prohibited from coordinating with a candidate (but there seems to be little enforcement as it is routinely treated as a fiction).
For this reason - as Kathy gently notes above -- this "isn't typical".


Mark Weiss
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2020 at 5:12 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
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on Aug 20, 2020 at 5:12 pm
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Post removed.]


Get Over Yourself
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Aug 20, 2020 at 7:44 pm
Get Over Yourself, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Aug 20, 2020 at 7:44 pm
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[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Anne
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 21, 2020 at 12:12 pm
Anne, Midtown
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on Aug 21, 2020 at 12:12 pm
28 people like this

Hopefully this article helps wake up more Palo Altans to the fact that we need to vote Tanaka OUT in November.


Common Sense
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2020 at 2:29 pm
Common Sense, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 21, 2020 at 2:29 pm
6 people like this

This thread of comments is really disheartening. Some seem to be looking at his voting record on raises or art projects rather than the issue at hand. Imagine that saving money during a pandemic is a terrible thing! Getting money while in term is not uncommon, they need to fund their office hours, email, etc. Although the sum of money received is more than needed, it can be used in community outreach efforts such as surveys. Despite getting money from developers, I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a single instance of Greg "giving" votes to developers without considering all the aspects of that vote. His office hours are a prime example of listening and responding, and at the end of the day he does something not many Councilmembers have the guts to do, vote with facts and not with feelings. In the midst of this pandemic I appreciate a council member who prioritizes getting us back in business.


Palo Alto Resident
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 21, 2020 at 4:22 pm
Palo Alto Resident, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 21, 2020 at 4:22 pm
24 people like this

@Common Sense, he took large sums from developers. That's the main point here.

The donations were clearly for his re-election campaign - as Dubois reported (and any local official will agree), the expenses for running his "office" are trivial. He may have been trying to hide the contributions, by taking them before declaring for the election, when no-one was looking. The voters will decide what they think.

[Portion removed.] If they clearly believe he is a good choice for them (and he is eager to take their money), is he a good choice for the rest of us?


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 21, 2020 at 5:46 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 21, 2020 at 5:46 pm
20 people like this

@ Mark Weiss
Raven Malone's recent application for a seat on either the Human
Relations Commission or Art Committee states she moved to Palo Alto six months ago, but her resume doesn't give a solid reason for moving here, and I'm not sure if she even has a legitimate Palo Alto address yet. From what I have gathered it is possible her relocation to Palo Alto may have been sponsored by those who want to get "their" people into local positions of influence to undermine and eliminate R-1 zoned single family residential neighborhoods and replace it with dense development.


Haru Sato
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 23, 2020 at 7:59 pm
Haru Sato, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2020 at 7:59 pm
44 people like this

As a Japanese American, I find Mr. Tanaka's behavior highly troubling on ethical grounds. His explanation, that he hadn't decide to run seems to be compounding the unethical behavior of raising large sums at the end of Dec in 2019 to try to hide those monies with a clear lie that he hadn't decided to run for office. I am satisfied that no one would raise that much money in the last few months of their term if they were not running. So it is very clear he will lie and deceive. Not qualities I am looking for in my local government representative. I hope others will see his explanations for the deceptive dodge that they are. We need people who are honest.


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2020 at 12:50 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2020 at 12:50 pm
5 people like this

"As a Japanese American, I find Mr. Tanaka's behavior highly troubling on ethical grounds."

So are you saying that if we're not JA, we shouldn't be troubled on ethical grounds?

Or that you have a different version of ethics than the rest of us?

What does bringing in your ethnicity have anything to do with the rest of your comment? Or are you trying to represent all Japanese Americans in Palo Alto?

Weird.


Kevin
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2020 at 12:35 pm
Kevin, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 26, 2020 at 12:35 pm
Like this comment

One thing I don't see being mentioned much is that this isn't an investigation into the Councilmember, but rather just an unwarranted complaint. Also, it seems while people seem to be upset about the developer money, they aren't upset about the PAC money that people such as Tom took to fund their expenses. To me at least, it seems like Greg's expenses are going to be higher than other councilmembers past and present because he has his office hours which, surprise, costs money and then he had more COVID outreach and surveys to fund. All of this seems to be one big distraction to get people to stop focusing on the issues that truly matter.


Tom DuBois
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 30, 2020 at 1:24 pm
Tom DuBois, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2020 at 1:24 pm
43 people like this

Just to respond to the implication that I took PAC money to fund my campaign. Being truthful and accurate with words matters. People seem to be playing fast and loose with the truth.

1. PACs operate independently from campaigns. In 2018, a PAC composed of local Palo Alto residents spent $3000 on ads supporting me. I am always happy for the support of voters.

2. I took no money from developers either time that I return. The first time, I got some checks, which I returned.

3. "Kevin" said tihs isn't an investigation of a council member, but my reading of the article is that IS exactly what it is.

4. All council members have office hours in different ways. The implication that it takes thousands of dollars to operate effectively as a council member is simply untrue and should be put to rest. Live streaming is available for free on Facebook and Youtube. For myself, I respond to emails and phones calls and meet with people when requested.

5. To "Kevin"'s last point, about issues that matter... I think honesty matters quite a bit in elected officials.

Greg can decide he wants this financial support and take it, and report it as required. People can decide for themselves if his explainations of what the money is for make sense and are truthful.


Tom DuBois
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm
Tom DuBois, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm
22 people like this

One last comment, for a breakdown of campaign funding, this analysis by an independent group is fascinating reading

Web Link


Stop the Denial
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2020 at 2:13 pm
Stop the Denial, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2020 at 2:13 pm
25 people like this

Such Irony! That folks keep saying what a great fiscal watchdog Tanaka is - yet in his only two campaigns, he engages in financial shinanigans - at least he was caught last time an it sure looks from the evidence that he has done so again this time.

Some fiscal watchdog!

Tom DuBois points are salient and correct. To try to lump him in with Tanaka is ludicous and inaccurate. Stop it.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 3, 2020 at 10:54 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 3, 2020 at 10:54 am
3 people like this

I have to laugh at this. There are a number of people running for a PACC spot that are from the various "Commissions" who are vehemtely all over the place on most of the topics we are looking at. They all cannot say enough about what they are going to do when they win a spot. And so far I have disagreed with most of their approaches and legal thinking on those issues. They have turned Legal on it's head.

Greg is a known person who is a hawk on the financial verity of what the city manager turns out on a regular basis. And that is what we need right now. Go Greg!


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