Santa Clara Councilman Can’t Get It Right in Raffle Controversy

Pat Kolstad’s raffle ticket created a nightmare. Just days before he won re-election to the Santa Clara City Council last fall, Kolstad used campaign funds to enter a raffle put on by the nonprofit Mission City Community Fund. As luck—or misfortune—would have it, Kolstad and his wife, Terri, won a brand-new Infinity luxury sedan. But according to Santa Clara’s election rules, the ticket purchase was made during a dead period for campaign spending, and it put him over the expenditure limit. City Attorney Richard E. Nosky fined Kolstad a piddly $250 for the infraction. But there could be more to come, as each new action by Kolstad seems to create a bigger mess. Kolstad sent a check to Mission City for the cost of the car, $31,665, and later noted it as a “non-monetary contribution” from the nonprofit on his campaign disclosure forms. That brought up two issues: It put his campaign nearly double over the city’s voluntary expenditure cap of $38,300; and it put Mission City in IRS limbo as nonprofits are barred from funding political candidates. Kolstad got off with a warning from the FPPC, the state’s political watchdog, but there’s still a question on where the money should end up. In March, Kolstad filed a new campaign disclosure form—after he’d already filed a form terminating the campaign—that makes it look as if the money in question never existed. Dustin DeRollo, a political consultant for Mission City, tells Fly that the nonprofit sent a check reimbursing him the cost of the car to avoid the appearance of conflict, but Kolstad refuses to cash it. Nosky says his office doesn’t know how Mission City’s check can be cashed without Kolstad breaking city laws, but it will continue to monitor the situation. And to further complicate matters, Kolstad didn’t even take the car he won. He upgraded to a luxury SUV, covering the difference in cost out of pocket. For the time being, Mission City is consulting with the city and its own attorneys on how to proceed.

Pat Kolstad, far right, turned his winning raffle ticket into a new luxury SUV.

Pat Kolstad, far right, turned his winning raffle ticket into a new luxury SUV.

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13 Comments

  1. Stupid rules. Much ado about nothing. He won a car at a charity raffle. All the rules are creating a nightmare for no reason, the limits are voluntary–because they could not be imposed Constitutionally. It’s crazy. . .

    • When $31,665 is getting thrown around, it’s hard to say that it’s much ado about nothing.

      Gambling with campaign funds doesn’t sound like it should be legal. I agree that it’s stupid though.

      • I agree that gambling with campaign funds should be illegal. Now lawyers like Rich are profiting at Mission City’s expense. Do candidates and their spouses traditionally get to consume leftover campaign funds?

        • Probably, just as non-chain restaurant owners take food home and bar owners take booze home.

          • Bank owners don’t take money home do they? Campaign funds don’t belong to politicians. I think voters have a vested interest in seeing who contributes, and when the money isn’t used in a political campaign, voters have a vested interest in seeing where the money goes.

  2. Why would Kolstad send the nonprofit a $31,665 check to cover the cost of the car, and why would the nonprofit then write Kolstad a check reimbursing him for the cost of the car in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest?

    None of this makes any sense.

  3. > For the time being, Mission City is consulting with the city and its own attorneys on how to proceed.

    What a mess!

    I always find it helps to clarify one’s thinking in situations like this to ask: “What would Hillary do?”

    • Hillary would deny, deny, deny until she had time to cleanse her secret email server. Then she’d delay some more, until she could say “What does it matter NOW?”

  4. S Randall is right, this is nonsense.

    I’ve met Pat Kolstad on quite a few occasions. He is not devious. From what I’ve seen, Pat is not the least bit dishonest. But he can be quite naive at times. If his wife wasn’t there to keep an eye on him, he would tend to drift off into areas he shouldn’t. For sure, Pat isn’t a born politician like the mayor, Caserta, and some of the other council members.

    I think this is one of those occasions where Pat didn’t even consider anything beyond buying a raffle ticket. But since he doesn’t seem to have any major politicall enemies, this will probably be filed under, “No harm, no foul.” Next week there will be a new crisis du jour.

    Pat, next time you do anything involving money, ask your wife first. She’s got the common sense in the family.☺

    • Now that’s a glowing endorsement for someone that is responsible for running a city.

    • Smokey: So why doesn’t his wife run, and let him get a real job?

  5. How nice that Kolstad’s political consultant backs his money man … No surprise there at all … Consider the source and follow the money. Robinson paid by Kolstad … Then defend Kolstad. Figures

    This whole issue isn’t nonsense – it is called corruption and breaking the law. Kolstad made campaign expenditures after the deadline. Not allowed. Kolstad bought raffle tickets (and his and Terri’s dinners/entrance fees too) with political contributions. Not allowed.

    FPPC is NOT done with Kolstad and needs to investigate SC City Attorney and City Clerk and City Manager about all the cover ups and burying under the rug moves.

    Who actually paid for the 49ers attorney to represent Kolstad? Why did that firm even represent Kolstsd at all? Can yu say blatant conflict of interest or is that called a political payback? Who actually paid for the illegally gotten car turned SUV? Mission City Comm Fund is at risk of losing their 501(c)(3) status because of Kolstad’s illegal activities and illegal use of political funds too.

    At the very least Kolstad needs to be fined big time. And, be blocked from voting on anything 49er related because of his intentional conflict of interest and influence peddling.

    Shame on Kolstad … This nice guy should just resign now before he is appropriately outfitted in the City’s new prison orange.

  6. did you know that Orange is our official city color ?? It’s so the crooks on city council can blend in and not be noticed. Pity we notice how crooked they