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State will not investigate Tanaka's campaign contributions

Original post made on Sep 15, 2020

The Fair Political Practices Commission has decided to not investigate a complaint that was filed against Councilman Greg Tanaka for accepting campaign contributions from developers well before he formed a reelection committee in July.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 14, 2020, 7:58 PM

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Comments (15)

37 people like this
Posted by What Bunk
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2020 at 12:39 am

What Bunk is a registered user.

What is the FPPC smoking anyway? So much for enforcing California campaign laws. Ask Liz Kniss - the FPPC still hasn't dealt with the 8 cases pending against her for hiding developer money donated 3 1/2 years ago for her election.

Here the FPPC takes a pass on Tanaka's campaign fundraising and spending, hilarilously finding that raising around $39,000 in 6 months (or $6,500 per month) is just for office expenses during covid in spite of spending only about $60 per month in prior months. Isn't covid making his office cheaper to run - zoom meetings, less utlities, more working from home, rather than more expansive? Who's kidding who here?

As Vice Mayor DuBois said, "If I received a $10,000 donation for non-campaigning uses, I could fund my expenses for about 50 years."

And then there is Tanaka's $2,700 in expenditures (many times more per month than usual) - all itemized and not to be made until he filed an Intent to be a Candidate Form. Items such as voter roles from the Registrar of Voters that candidates need. But the Fair Political Practices Commission didn't care.

It seems all one must do is as Tanaka has done, just say - I raised $39,000 after having raised nothing for years, and then, Bam, it suddenly occurred to me to run again for City Council. But these two things had nothing to do with each other. Uh huh.

16 people like this
Posted by Graffiti on the wall
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2020 at 12:56 am

Graffiti on the wall is a registered user.

So why does this website publish unsubstantiated articles based on anonymous complaints? It seems like FPPC complaints are the new attack ad in our city. It is like printing graffiti and calling it news.

Candidates are allowed to take money in their old campaign for their re-election. Perfectly legal and very common even among other council members.

20 people like this
Posted by Double standard
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 15, 2020 at 1:11 am

Double standard is a registered user.

Tanaka did nothing wrong but gets a lot of negative press for being the only one to hold regular office hours. He goes out of his way to listen and I appreciate that.

On the other hand, funny how Dubois makes accusations about donations but thinks it is okay for himself to take massive checks. Seems like a double standard.

28 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 15, 2020 at 4:39 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Double standard : "On the other hand, funny how Dubois makes accusations about donations but thinks it is okay for himself to take massive checks. Seems like a double standard."

What DuBois is quoted as saying is 'As Vice Mayor DuBois said, "If I received a $10,000 donation for non-campaigning uses, I could fund my expenses for about 50 years." '

First, note that DuBois' statement is a hypothetical, not a statement of fact, as you would have readers believe.
Second, note that the statement is an observation, not an accusation, although it might be used by someone in making an accusation.

45 people like this
Posted by writing wrongs
a resident of University South
on Sep 15, 2020 at 8:59 am

writing wrongs is a registered user.

Does anyone really believe that it costs thousand and thousands of dollars to
host Zoom meetings for his office hours? The FPPC has become as unreliable as the CDC. And why would the contributions for any council expenses just happen to be donated so near the campaign and not throughout his prior
3 1/2 years on council.

Tanaka has a long pattern or deceit and deflection. The public is being fooled by a trickster. Or perhaps worse yet, defended by others who seek to gain by support of him.

FACT: Tanaka deflected questions from the Southgate Women's Club interview recently. The question: do you support a business tax. He would only speak to the unanimous vote this year that was a unanimous vote to delay due to the Corona Virus. He has consistently voted and spoken against a business tax of larger corporations in Palo Alto.

FACT: In that same interview he deflected once again when asked about his vote against code enforcement during the budget hearings. He deflected to make it all about building inspections, an entirely different matter. He did so repeatedly and said the group had been misinformed about his lack of support for code enforcement.

FACT: While he opposes a business tax that could be used at least partially to support businesses especially in times such as these, he proposes taxing the public by allowing restaurants to add a corona virus surcharge to bills.

FACT: During Democrat endorsement interview, he said he supports renter protection. But his voting record is clear that he has never supported it and always voted against it.

FACT: Just last night, he again voted against renter protections by casting
a NO vote on state legislation that would allow local jurisdictions to create ordinances that would provide protections.

FACT: He spoke last night about weakening Palo Alto's groundfloor retail protections saying that vacancies are detrimental to retain viability...while ignoring his negative impact on retail by promoting opaques windows in retail corridors. Those blank windows are the same as a vacant store to the shopper.

FACT: Tanaka's campaign practices continue to be "irregular". He posts support on his website from organizations that have not yet endorsed (Asian Dem Party), e.g. which is a carryover from last election. There is much to be learned about a person post-election, and it can never be assumed that an endorsement 4 years ago assures one now.

I see a lot of Tanaka campaign lawn signs in the community....many if not most planted illegally on public space rather than on private property which is the requirement. Posting in the parking strip gives higher visibility, giving his campaign advantage over those rule-abiding campaigns that plant signs on private land inboard of the parking strips. He is not a first time candidate. He has no excuse other than self promotion. How can everyone know the rules but him? The FACT is that he does know and scoffs at the rules just as he scoffs at the truth.

The FPPC is playing right into his hands by denying the public an evaluation of his honesty that would be provided by an investigating of the FACTS. Instead they have accepted his word alone just as he expects the Southgate Women Club members to do. We are smarter than that.

21 people like this
Posted by Plain language
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2020 at 9:13 am

Plain language is a registered user.

As quoted in the article, under the plain language of the FPPC disclosure manual:

State rules require candidates to file a Form 501 "before SOLICITING OR RECEIVING ANY CONTRIBUTIONS or making expenditures from personal funds”.

The FPPC letter declining to investigate accepts Tanaka’s dubious explanation that a sudden exponential increase in spending leading up to election season (and BEFORE the pandemic hit) for routine “office-holder expenses” Is unrelated to his current campaign.

And doesn’t address AT ALL the tens of thousands in donations received In the months before he filed his intent to run (501 form)

Even after filing his 501, Tanaka continued to report all his fundraising under the name of his former, 2016, campaign committee.

As @Bunk points out, in light of the FPPCs inaction on the Kniss cases FOR THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF HER TERM, this latest development makes clear that voters are on their own to police campaign $$ shenanigans.

31 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 15, 2020 at 9:21 am

Online Name is a registered user.

It would be very special if the Palo Alto Weekly and other media pressed the FPPC why -- after all these years -- they STILL haven't ruled on Kniss and also why she's still allowed to serve and groom our "leaders" for decades to come.

20 people like this
Posted by What Bunk
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2020 at 10:07 am

What Bunk is a registered user.

See this recent candidate interview with Tanaka in which a mild-mannered but persistent moderator allows him to reveal himself as not telling the truth on his vote on the business tax. You also will see his wildly strange manner exhibited throughout. More reasons not to re-elect him.
Web Link

10 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 15, 2020 at 10:27 am

Citizen is a registered user.

Glad to hear the campaign contributions were disclosed and no action need be taken.

6 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 15, 2020 at 11:20 am

Barron Park dad is a registered user.

This sure sounds like a witch hunt to me. Tanaka's explanation seems sensible and plausible to a reasonable reader. It's kinda obvious his opponents are simply using this open-and-closed investigation for political attacks.

23 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Just because the FPPC isn't taking action doesn't mean voters shouldn't continue to wonder whose interests Tanaka would serve should he be re-elected.

1 person likes this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2020 at 12:38 pm

Me 2 is a registered user.

Well, that smear tactic didn't work. Of course the astroturfers complaining about the result are out in force.

Seriously people. Try winning on issues.... or maybe you can't.

23 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 15, 2020 at 2:21 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Mr. Tanaka is claiming endorsements from 350+ organizations and individuals including ME when I never endorsed him. The least he could have done was spell my name right.

Check and see if you're there and, more importantly, if you should be there!

18 people like this
Posted by No on Tanaka
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 15, 2020 at 4:41 pm

No on Tanaka is a registered user.

Tanaka has been spending this money on Facebook advertising. He is calling it "outreach" while it is blatant campaign advertising. He is gaming the system. Unethical.

4 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 15, 2020 at 7:09 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

First, as to the requirement to file a statement of candidacy before soliciting or receiving contributions, I would have expected the article to explain what sort of abuse that requirement was addressing. I would need to know this for me to judge whether this was a serious error by Tanaka.

Second, a number of previous comments have challenged Tanaka's explanation that the contributions in 2019 and early 2020 were used to cover on-going office expenses. The data given in those comments were summaries and I wanted to see the details.
For similarly curious people, I downloaded the reports from that section of the City Clerk's website (Web Link) and combined them into a single PDF. The PDF's bookmarks allow you to jump to the beginning of the reports. The summary of contributions and expenses begins on page 3 of each report with details following.

The reports covering the first 3.5 years of Tanaka being in office are filed semi-annually.
Download: Web Link

Totals of the expenses reported in each of these semi-annual reports:

2017H1: $ 121
2017H2: $ 461 + $783 for what appear to be fines for campaign violations: total $1244
2018H1: $ 208
2018H2: $ 275
2019H1: $ 322
2019H2: $ 301
2020H1: $2277

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