Lawyers for Preserve Our Santa Barbara Inc. sent mayoral candidate Steve Cushman a letter on Monday demanding that he either return campaign funds or amend the listed occupation and employer of Sergey Grishin, who gave Cushman $50,000 in the last filing period.

The letter came the day before the deadline for Cushman to take action. It said Grishin’s information was noncompliant with the California Political Reform Act, which requires the occupation and employer of all campaign donors who give more than $100.

Cushman amended the statement — which originally listed Grishin as an entrepreneur/businessman without mention of an employer, as required under the act — to list him as self-employed at SGI Enterprises, according to campaign statements filed with the City Clerk’s Office.

The listing was a clerical error, according to Jason Nelson, Cushman’s campaign manager and assistant treasurer. He said he forgot to update the paperwork with the occupation/employer, but was thankful that someone brought the mistake to their attention before it was too late, Nelson said. Grishin’s contribution was the largest amount Cushman received, and about half of his total campaign funds.

“We’re not idiots — we knew everyone would want to know who he was,” Nelson said.

Grishin, a Russian businessman, has lived in Santa Barbara for about eight years and approached Cushman with an offer of funding, Nelson said.

Preserve Our Santa Barbara is a political action committee funded almost entirely by Texan businessman Randall Van Wolfswinkel. The man, and PAC, have contributed about $250,000 combined to various candidates and issues for this year’s city election.

The PAC is being represented by political and government law firm Reed & Davidson LLP, which sent the letter to Cushman. Two of the attorneys listed on the letter are also listed as the PAC’s treasurers on campaign statements filed with the City Clerk’s Office.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at

Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at