Who Wasted the Most Campaign Money in 2012? Well, a Lot of People

The deadline for semi-annual campaign disclosure forms covering the last half of 2012 came due last week. The documents provide a clearer picture of how winning and losing candidates raised money and how they spent it—or misspent it—in the final weeks of the campaign. We also tracked a number of political action committees’ (PACs) fundraising and expenditures in the run-up to the election on Nov. 6, 2012.

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty details.

District 8
The most expensive race in the history of San Jose’s City Council featured incumbent Rose Herrera coming very close to the expenditure limit. Her campaign spent $254,943.23 in 2012 and was left with just $1,614.73 in cash on hand. Herrera’s spending in the last half of the year reached $126,975.74, coming close to the maximum allowed per election cycle in District 8: $128,277.

Payments from the Herrera campaign, covering July 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2012, included $8,538.66 to campaign manager Jordan Tenedora and $10,000 to Eagle Communications, operated by Vic Ajlouny.

The campaign for Herrera’s challenger, Jimmy Nguyen, ran a rather modest operation by comparison—not including outside support. Nguyen hauled in just $89,058.20 in total contributions for 2012. However, he spent $107,805.14, leaving him with an ending cash balance of negative $16,496.94.

Nguyen loaned his campaign $8,200, but as of Jan. 1 he still owed or needed to forgive $4,868.31 in loans. Payments to Robinson Communications—which is run by Rich Robinson and consisted of consulting services, postage and mailers, according to disclosure forms—totaled $57,447.46.

Included in Nguyen’s filing was a “Validation Report” dated Jan. 28, 2013, which noted six warnings over discrepancies relating to his ending cash balance.

District 10
Councilmember Johnny Khamis’ campaign spent $197,759.56 in 2012—more than double what his opponent, Robert Braunstein, raised in the same time period. Khamis was especially more active in the final weeks of the campaign, raising $19,457.61 from Oct. 21, 2012 through Nov. 5, 2012. Braunstein raised just $5,025 in that same time period.

According to his disclosure report, Khamis gave himself loans of $18,000 on June 29 and $2,000 on Sept. 29. He made a payment of $15,000 to Eagle Communications during the final disclosure period.

Robert Braunstein’s campaign spent $120,311.43 in the 2012 calendar year, and it had a cash balance of $539.75. Braunstein, however, had yet to break even as of the New Year. His campaign raised just $97,262.03 total and he has a remaining debt of $20,000.00, which he loaned to himself on Aug. 13. His notable payments include $13,004.05 to campaign manager Peter Allen and $4,000 to consultant Jay Rosenthal.

Here are some of the local PACs, whose disclosure forms are available online through the City Clerk’s office:

The Committee for Safe San Jose Neighborhoods—Support Nguyen for City Council 2012, a coalition of local police officers & firefighters, prosecutors, architects, engineers, registered nurses, taxpayers spent $444,237.55 for the 2012 calendar year, while raising just $367,854. If that sounds like the committee got in over its head, well, that would be a fair judgment. As of Jan. 1, the PAC has outstanding debts in the amount of $110,316.52. Recently re-elected Police Officers Association President Jim Unland is listed as the committee’s treasurer.

The PAC spent $380,029.60 in opposing Rose Herrera’s re-election during the 2012 calendar year. Despite what PAC’s name suggesting support for Nguyen, the committee threw just $45,348.97 into supporting Herrera’s challenger.

California Restaurant Association Issues PAC spent $365,361.04 in 2012, while raising nearly $100,000 less than that during the calendar year. However, the PAC ended with a cash balance of $37,103.32.

The Restaurant PAC gave more than a quarter-million dollars—$254,995.12—to the Keep San Jose Jobs - Oppose Government Mandated Wage Hikes, A Coalition of Non Profit Groups, Chamber of Commerce & Small Businesses With Major Funding From CA Restaurant Assn …

Catchy title, no?

While the minimum wage fight sucked in a lot of people, with or without their consent—ask Goodwill, one more-than-willing participant was John Hogan, director of Teen Force, a nonprofit that finds jobs and training for young people. Hogan was quoted in the ballot argument against Measure D saying, “We do need to look at the minimum wage—but not like this, not this fast. It will make it harder for us to find jobs for kids who need them.”

What Hogan didn’t say in the ballot argument is that the “Keep San Jose Jobs …” PAC paid Teen Force $8,034.39 from the time the committee was created on July 16, 2012, through the end of the year. The committee’s final disclosure form for the calendar year notes a $2,390.63 unpaid bill to Teen Force.

San Jose Firefighters, IAFF Local 230 PAC spent a total of $243,592.79 in 2012, with $42,194 going out during the period of Oct. 21 through the end of the year. According to its disclosure form, the firefighters PAC had an ending cash balance of $5,825.18, and outstanding debts of $1,882.50, which appears to be owed to consultants Tom Saggau and Dustin DeRollo.

The PAC spent $38,000 indirectly supporting Jimmy Nguyen’s campaign, and $14,684.55 to oppose Johnny Khamis. In addition, $1,000 was given to assemblymembers Nora Campos and Paul Fong for the general election. Campos received $2,500 from the PAC for the primary.

San Jose Police Officers’ Association Political Issues Committee spent a total of $30,667.14 from Oct. 21, 2012 through the end of the year, and it had a cash balance of $22,429.55. The PAC spent $2,500 in support of Measure D, a measure to raise the minimum wage in California.

The Association of Retired San Jose Police Officers and Firefighters PAC spent a total of $100,835.36 in 2012, and had a cash balance of $868.95 at the end of the year. According to its disclosure form, Of the amount spent, $25,000 went to a PAC supporting Jimmy Nguyen’s committee, but $20,000 was apparently returned. There was also a $1,500 increase in “miscellaneous increases to cash” due to a voided check made out to Saggau-DeRollo Inc.

Santa Clara County Government Attorneys’ Association PAC spent $96,244.73 in 2012, ending with a cash balance of $25,783.22. The committee gave $12,275.15 to Milagro Marketing and Pacific Printing in support of a PAC backing Jimmy Nguyen. The attorneys were far more willing to go negative, however, as they spent $69,106.77 with Milagro Marketing and Pacific Printing to oppose Rose Herrera.

San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce PAC spent $593,655.83 total in 2012. The committee only raised $382,223.45 during the calendar year, however, it had an ending cash balance of $178,375.56. The PAC spent a relatively meager amount—$58,000—opposing Measure D, but a whopping $103,399.50 to TAB Communications, Inc., which was then used to support Rose Herrera’s re-election.

• Filings made by the Local 101 AFSCME AFL-CIO PAC showed the committee spent $69,250 in 2012, just less than the $70,000 it raised. The AFSCME PAC supported various candidates and measures, including Jimmy Nguyen ($500), Yes on Measure H ($5,000), Yes on Measure B ($5,000) and Friends of Jim Beall ($3,500).

Thyra Phan contributed to this report.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Thank you Josh.
    Now please head over to Berger Drive/County Registrar of Voters and pick up the FPPC forms for all of the County pacs, such as the South Bay Labor Council, Teachers Union, and PACs which went negative against candidates, and report on County PAC spending.  Please.  Regular citizens should know what groups are trying to control our elected offices.
    Thank you.

  2. Just curious , How much of that money was ILLEGALLY Funneled from Mayor Reed? And before everybody gets in an uproar , He has already proven that he is more than willing to bend (Or Break ) Rules to get what he wants . FACT !

  3. All that anti Rose Herrera money used by the public workers unions is a waste.  Nguyen was never a viable candidate and he was only marginally better than Martinez Roach who was their darling in the primary.  Wonder how many cops that would have paid for rather than thrown down the toilet of hate campaigning. 

    All the Chuck Reed is the devil mentality doesn’t make the public hate him any more than it makes them sympathetic to the cuts in pensions.  Recruit, train, surface and then run QUALITY & QUALIFIED candidates.  That is the bottom line.  The union backed flunkees you parade in front of the public as the solution to Reed’s cuts is laughable and insulting to the public.  From Xavier Campos’ inadequate and ineffective time on the council to Martinez Roach & Nguyen’s no practical experience or expertise the public needs better options.  Spend your PAC dollars surfacing better candidates rather than trying to trick the public into not noticing how horribly inadequate the candidates are.  Because you have no real candidates you’re forces to run those hate filled anti-campaigns asking the public to vote against someone rather than for someone.  That is never going to create the outcome you desire.

    • That’s why Herrera spent twice the money then Nguyen and her husband was caught stealing signs.

      Reed gave her $100,000 grand illegally at the end of her campaign to put false information.

      Remember she was labors little darling, until she figured out she can make more money with Reeds developers buddy’s.

      Congratulation on re-electing the thief back into office.

    • Aware D5:

      Since you don’t seem “aware” of it… PAC stands for Political Action Committee; they do not pay salaries.  They are organized in order to influence elections.  That’s all, and that’s it.


      Are you suggesting that people should donate money to pay for their co-workers salaries?  That’s ludicrous.

      Speaking of recruiting, training… do you know how much the City of San Jose has paid to recruit/train the Officers who have resigned for other agencies?  About $24 Million (http://protectsanjose.com/content/sj-politicians-unwillingness-compromise-cripples-public-safety).

      You are correct, that Nguyen was not a strong candidate- more so due to experience than qualification than recruiting and training however.  As you don’t seem to be “aware” of, politics isn’t about professionalism- things that recruiting and training can affect.  Politics is about power and influence.  Rufus used to be an ally of labor/police/fire, until he became Mayor.  Then he became beholden to developers and future politics… Same with Vice-Mayor Nguyen and Constant.  They can’t be trusted, so labor has to float their own politicos.

  4. Please also check up on FPPC campaign violations, such as Mission College Trustee Buck Polk’s this past election cycle:

    A candidate or an elected official cannot control a committee which makes independent expenditures supporting or opposing other candidates. Because
    Buck Polk is a trustee for WV/Mission College district, he wasn’t supposed to be a principal officer of a committee which campaigns for/against another candidate.  Mr. Polk was the primary source of funding, by far, for his PAC.  Without his loan and donations, the PAC would have had almost no funding.

    One wonders, when did Mr. Polk find out that he was violating FPPC rules?  He contacted the FPPC after the election was over.

  5. The San Jose Firefighters Local 230 spent $243,592.79 on political action.  Is that a misprint?  That is a lot of money, about $350 per firefighter.  The difference spent between the FF’s and the PD PAC is also quite significant, with FF’s spending almost eight times more.  I wonder how much in union dues the FF’s pay per year.  I have heard that their union board members are also paid a large salary for their positions, along with the large amount paid into PAC it is probably a big amount of the firefighters pay checks.  I wonder if they are getting their money’s worth.  It looks their political consultants,  DeRollo and Saggau are getting theirs with very poor results.  It’s too bad they continue to try to negotiate through politics squandering their members money.  A quarter million dollars could go a long way in assisting the hardworking fire fighters who took pay cuts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *