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Council Candidate Expenditures Top $121,000

In the Lake Forest City Council race, Dwight Robinson outraises all other candidates; Adam Nick outspends the bunch.

Campaign spending by the candidates aiming for a seat on the Lake Forest City Council topped $121,000 by the third week of October, according to campaign finance statements.

Of the seven candidates running for two open seats, candidate Dwight Robinson reported outraising other candidates for Lake Forest Council by a significant margin.

In his most recent campaign finance statement, Robison reported monetary contributions of $19,899: $17,832 in cash and $2,067 in non-monetary contributions. 

His overall contribution total of $35,899 this calendar year includes $15,000 in self-loans.

Four political action committees have kicked in cash to Robinson's campaign:

  • Family Action PAC, $1,000
  • California Real Estate PAC: $1,000 
  • OC Biz PAC: $500 
  • OC Taxpayers Association: $250.

Some Orange County politicians also gave to Robinson's campaign.

Lake Forest candidate Adam Nick gave Robinson $1,000 in April. The campaign committee for current Mayor Pro Tem Scott Voigts gave Robinson $500 in August. Ed Sachs, a candidate for Mission Viejo council, kicked in $250 in February.

Athens Services—the trash collector that beat out longtime Lake Forest contractor Sunset Properties for a contract with Lake Forest this January—gave Robinson $250 in February.

As of Oct. 20, Robinson reported expenditures of $31,784—the second-highest total of all candidates. Of that, $10,421 went to election mailers, according to campaign finance statements.

Nick recorded the second-highest fundraising total of the candidates, but funded the majority himself.

The candidate raised $2,650 from supporters and gave $5,000 to his campaign, raising his contribution total to $7,650. Nick has loaned his campaign a total of $35,000 this year, taking his contribution total to $42,650.

Nick has spent the most of any candidate so far in the race, with $40,466 in reported expenditures.

Of that, Nick spent $20,421 for campaign literature, including $15,883.50 in October alone for mailers, according to financial statements.

Incumbent Marcia Rudolph reported $6,637 in monetary contributions. She is the only candidate who has not reported any loans.

Most of Rudolph's cash was from Foothill Village, which gave $5,000. Brookfield Homes, a developer planning to erect 151 condos in Foothill Ranch, gave $500.

Rudoph reported expenditures of $6,863.

Lake Forest Planning Commissioner Terry Anderson has spent $20,966 this year, according to campaign finance documents.

He reported $3,294 in cash contributions, non-monetary contributions of $1,174 and self-loans of $13,000, for a total of $17,468.

The campaign committee for Councilman Peter Herzog gave the Anderson campaign $300. Herzog's committee also gave to candidate Kathy Zechmeister.

Zechmeister has collected $4,244 in cash donations from supporters, $1,148 in non-monetary contributions and self-loans totaling $11,250, bringing her contribution total to $16,632.

Brookfield Homes builder Dave Bartlett, who kicked in $250, is among her supporters.

As of the latest campaign filing, the Zechmeister campaign had spent $16,572.

Candidate Jim Gardner reported cash contributions of $1,330 and a $3,000 self-loan for a total of $4,330.

He reported spending $4,780 for campaign expenses.

Candidate Ken Carrell did not reach the $1,000 threshold that obligates candidates to detail their finances by Oct. 20, the due date for the latest filing period. However, he indicated that he will have surpassed that mark by the election, and will therefore be required to file a statement in January.

Matt Stern November 05, 2012 at 02:44 PM
So, candidates spend around $20,000 for a job that has a $600 monthly stipend. And people wonder why politicians can't balance a budget.
Andromeda November 05, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Why would Candidate Nick give $1000 to his competitor Candidate Robinson? Strange political bedfellows there. Spending is getting out of control for a job that pays $600-$700 a month. There should be a limit on campaign spending. Money should not be allowed to buy seats of influence in government. That makes us no better than 3rd world banana republics!
Robert Guzman November 05, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Andromeda.... On that note regarding limits on campaign spending, I feel the Citizens United (Super Pacs) will destroy our country's integrity, honesty, transparency and justice with corporate America owning our candidates - to include the corrupt lobbyist infecting the minds of our elected pollititians! I strongly believe the entire campaign season (which includes primarys) should not last more than six months and "all" campaign commericials (propositions too) on TV or radio have to be regulated for the "truth" BEFORE they air on broadcast, just like the same strict restrictions products and services have been going through for decades (Truth in Advertising)...if you don't agree with this, I have a product that if you buy it will allow you to live healthy for 150 years! Plus, the U.S. should have a dedicated TV and radio free station that everyone can get for any campaign/proposition broadcast advertising....don't get me started because I could go on forever on how we need to clean up campaigning!
Informed Citizen November 05, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Sarah, do these figures take into account the amount of money spent by the OC Republican Party? I have gotten MANY big and probably expensive mailers from them supporting their picks, and bashing others. Why are they doing this and where is that money coming from?
Nick Wilson November 05, 2012 at 08:18 PM
I really don't care how much money they spend. Is that how people decide who to vote for? No. Informed voters research candidates and choose based on principles, not based on who raises money or spends money. The idea that the government should be regulating "truth" is a exactly what happens in 3rd world dictatorships.
Dennis Fletcher November 05, 2012 at 09:34 PM
My Facebook friends across the country have enjoyed reading about our little City Council race. I agree with one of the candidates (Jim Gardner) that candidates for City Council should not be allowed to accept donations from vendors that the city is contracting with or may contract with.
Carol C November 05, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I've just received the most disgusting mailer paid for by "California Taxpayers for Responsible Government. FPPC # 1352706." It is against Marcia Rudolph. I had already decided to vote for other candidates, so it's not that I'm for her. But this piece is so revolting I felt I needed to comment. When I try to identify just who "California Taxpayers for Responsible Government" is, all I get is information about how much money they have and where it was spent. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Who ever they are...they are just NASTY people.
Andromeda November 05, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Nick, the problem lies in the fact that most voters lack unbiased information as they make their election decisions. They are inundated with propoganda. And research shows that the politician who spends the most money on campaign gimmicks is most likely to win. Propoganda has always been a productive way to manipulate human choices. I am all for the free flow of information - but I believe that there should be a level playing field. There should be spending limits based on the office. For a city council seat in a city the size of Lake Forest that limit should be $8000-$10,000. The guy who spends $40,000 has a huge advantage over the guy who spends $5,000. Everyone knows that. It's no secret. And you don't have to be a genius to figure it out. Elected seats should not go the highest bidder. Not in a representative democracy.
Rob Lange November 05, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Please Carol, If you find out please let us know. I also received this piece of slimy garbage and would love to know who is responsible. It is disgusting.
Carol C November 06, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Carol C 3:59 pm on Monday, November 5, 2012 Election Track posts this regarding contributions to "California Taxpayers for Responsible Government: They report: BUILDING INDUSTRY ASSOC OF S/C LOS ANGELES, CA 90010 $5000 2012-10-29 MILAN REI IV, LLC ANAHEIM, CA 92802 $28000 2012-10-12 So what does an Anaheim Real Estate Investor and the Building Industry Association from LA have to do with Lake Forest City Council election?
Jim Gardner November 06, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Hi Carol C. and Rob The BIA is a frequent contributor to city council members in Lake Forest and often has comments about Lake Forest business with regard to building. The most recent example I recall was a contribution to Councilman Scott Voigts and this was before Voigts voted for the BIA recommendation at a Council meeting but he was defeated 4-1 on this vote. So once again, the decisions made by council members went with the money. I didn't report this event because I didn't want anyone to think I was picking on Scott in particular since I had just reported his vote in favor of (Council Candidate) Adam Nick when he was also the only one accepting Nick's money and the only one voting in favor of Nick. So two times we can trace Voigts 1-4 votes to his voting in favor of someone/some business who gave him money. All of this sad tale is chronicled in my series "Follow the Money". If you haven't already, please read it. It has been strongly suggested that Voigts is supporting Nick and Robinson, and he in fact does support Robinson publically. So if I had to guess, I'd say the BIA is part of the Robinson/Nick/Voigts group - but this is only speculation.
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) November 06, 2012 at 01:06 AM
These figures do not take that spending into account. Here's an article about the money the OC GOP has spent on Lake Forest's election: http://patch.com/A-znN4
Matt Stern November 06, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Not just nasty, but inaccurate. What's interesting about the "20 years...It can seem like a life time (sic)" flyer is that all the things they show in the picture are older than 20: Yugos came to the United States in 1988, Miami Vice was a mid-80s hit, that model of the IBM PC came out in 1982, Full House came on the air in 1987, and Matlock first aired in 1986. I don't want to sound pedantic, but if an organization is going to attack someone like Marcia Rudolph who has served the city diligently since its beginning, they better get their facts straight.
Andromeda November 06, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Since Gardner's articles hit so close to home on this Council election I just have to assume that the other candidates keep close tabs on what he writes. If I were a candidate I surely would. Good businessmen always pay attention to what the competition is doing. Yet rarely do I see another candidate refute Gardner's statements when they have every opportunity to do so. This gives Gardner even more credibility in my eyes since inaccurate statements would surely get challenged during election season when every vote counts. But I just don't see very many challenges. Carrell challenged him once and Gardner responded back and the dialog came to an abrupt halt. I commend Gardner for his efforts to bring transparency into this election. Through him I have learned more about the inside operations of this Council election than any election in the past. Quite illuminating and educational. It adds a third dimension which makes it very interesting too!
Dennis Fletcher November 06, 2012 at 09:11 AM
As a former management consultant, as is Mr. Gardner, I am familiar with a guideline we all worked under from the Assn of Management Consulting that states you are restricted from accepting payment in any form from a company that might benefit from a recommendation to a client. This credo appears to guide his thinking and ideally should guide the thinking of anyone serving on the City Council.
Jim Gardner November 06, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Hi Andromeda Thanks for your support. It's not only the candidates who failed to refute my data and comments, it is also the City. I'm not perfect and I make mistakes, and with the (literally) thousands of bits of information and data I've posted over the past few months, I'm sure there have been a few errors. I work very long and hard to double and triple check my data (the people at the Clerk's office often say "What are you doing here again?" because I show up the next day to double check something), but I'm sure the occasional error creeps in. Nonetheless, on all the substantial issues I've raised, neither the City nor any of the candidates have offered any alternative data, with the exception of Carrell, whom as you note, who did not pursue the issue after I quoted from the FPPC (with whom I subsequently checked to be sure I was correct). I'll accept that as tacit agreement that the data is correct. Of course, we can disagree about the interpretations, and some commenters do.
Ken Carrell November 06, 2012 at 04:02 PM
First, I don't answer to Jim Gardner. I took my Form 460 to the City Clerk and she told me that I didn't need to file it yet. She told me that I only needed to file Form 410 and it didn't have to be that day. I don't listen to someone who quotes from a document, I listen to someone who deals with this on a daily basis. And if anyone thinks that Jim Gardner is doing this for the city, they better think again. My wife had a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Solutions. Gardner sent me an e-mail asking if we could turn it into a meet and greet for the two of us. I told him absolutely not, it is a fundraiser for BCS. He still showed up with a Gardner for City Council button and shook hands and then left after 10 minutes. He didn't even bother to buy something or bid on anything. So anyone thinking that Gardner is for anyone other than Jim Gardner, think again.
Jim Gardner November 06, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I asked Ken if I should ask my supporters to show up at the fund raiser so that we could increase foot traffic for Breast Cancer Solutions and help earn them extra funds. He said no, so I didn't. My wife and I showed up even though we had another event to attend. We stayed for about 15 to 20 minutes and she purchased several watches. I didn't purchase anything or bid on anything because when I go to these events with my wife it's usually her job to do that, which is what she did. I shook hands with many people at the fund raiser. The fact is I have been supporting Breast Cancer Solutions for more than a decade. I know just about everyone on the Board and most of their volunteers. I helped raise them thousands of dollars over the years, hosted their events in my home, etc. So there was nothing unusual in me greeting the people who I have worked with for more than a decade. As far as the Form 460s is concerned, I don't want to speak for the City Clerk or the FPPC. According to the FPPC documents (which I quoted), Ken is in violation of their regulations. It's not my intention to file a complaint against him.
PTB November 06, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Mr. Carrell, the Gardner's have supported BCS since it's inception more than 10 years ago. Anne has worked tirelessly on BCS' behalf for over a dozen years and both have attended BCS' events regularly for that long. Please don't make it sound like the only reason he was there was for campaigning. Don't tell me that you hosted the event and didn't intend on some of that "rubbing off" on your candidacy. Really. Cheap shot.
Mason November 06, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Ken Carrell - Fact check - Jim and his wife have been actively involved with Breast Cancer Solutions for at least 10 years now (back when it was called Breast Cancer Survivors). Get it right.
Jim Gardner November 06, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Thanks PTB. I didn't mention that Ken's double sized signs and campaign literature were prominently displayed at the fund raiser because I know that his wife's store, The Jewelry Box, has hosted fund raisers for BCS in the past so the purpose of the fund raiser was not to promote Ken's campaign per se, although he obviously took the opportunity. And I never thought to criticize him for that either, since BCS is such an important charity and The Jewelry Box's support has been helpful to them. Nor am I criticizing him now. But it is worth mentioning now that he raises the issue of trying to use a fund raiser to promote oneself. It's true I did wear my "Gardner For Council" button. I wear it just about everywhere, unless I have on my red white and blue T shirt that blazes my campaign. In deference to BCS and not wanting to upset anyone, especially Ken, I left the T shirt in the car.

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