This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
An anonymous caller directed me to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee's website, where candidates filling out an endorsement application are asked for a $50 contribution "to offset the cost of our endorsement process."
"It just seems undemocratic," said the caller (whom I assume meant that with a small "d"), acknowledging he's running for a local office and so declining to provide his name lest he incur the party's wrath. "I've been a Democrat all my life, and this is a little bit over the top; it's not like I don't already contribute to the president and other campaigns."
Chairwoman Robin Torello said the county party started soliciting such contributions from candidates in 2010, although it just raised the suggested ante from $25 to $50 "because it was not covering our expenses, plus this is a bigger year with more races."
Torello said her committee is looking at almost 200 Democrats running in more than 120 local races across the county this November. Vetting so many candidates for endorsement means spending on everything from printing, postage and phone costs to refreshments for the volunteer committee members who'll be sitting through five full days of interviews, she said.
The process takes
Contra Costa County Democratic Party officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment on whether they charge such fees, too. (UPDATE @ 8:22 A.M. WEDNESDAY: They don't, chairman Chuck Carpenter said in an e-mail last night.)
On the other side of the bay, San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee Chairman David Burruto said his committee used to charge "a nominal fee just because we had to Xerox a lot of things," but in this age of fast, cheap email has stopped doing so.
"We don't charge anything," he said. "The only thing we ask of candidates sometimes is if they want to be on a slate mailer."
In the South Bay, chairman Steve Preminger said "at no point in our endorsement process does the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee state or imply that a candidate seeking our endorsement should make a financial contribution or pay any fees to the SCCDP."
California's political watchdog agency today slapped the committee behind 2008's Proposition 8 -- the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage -- with a $49,000 fine for campaign finance reporting violations involving more than $1.3 million in contributions.
According to the Fair Political Practices Commission, ProtectMarriage.com-Yes on 8 and its treasurer, David Bauer, "failed to file late contribution reports in a timely manner; failed to file in a timely manner, contributions of $1,000 or more received during the 90-day election cycle ending on Nov. 4, 2008; failed to file contributions of $5,000 or more in a timely manner, in an online campaign report within ten business days of receipt; failed to properly dispose of an anonymous $10,000 contribution received on or about Oct. 28, 2008; and failed to disclose occupation and/or employer information regarding persons who contributed $100 or more" -- 18 distinct violations in all.
"The total amount of contributions not timely reported on these reports is approximately $654,424, which is approximately 2 percent of the total contributions received by Respondent Committee during the audit period," commission staffers wrote of the late contribution reports, in an exhibit to the stipulation agreed to by ProtectMarriage.com. Staffers noted "there are no cases that are similar in size and amount of contributions received that have been considered by the Commission in the recent past."
ProtectMarriage.com also "failed to disclose 188 contributions of $1,000 or more totaling $582,306 during 90-day period before the Nov. 4, 2008 General Election within 24 hours of receipt in online campaign reports," the exhibit said. It also failed to disclose contributions of $5,000 or more on or about July 21, 2008 and Aug. 5, 2008, totaling $95,000.