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Connell, Easton Decry PAC’s Ad

Campaigns release their financial reports. Best Western South Coast Inn delivers $20,000 to Connell and Easton.

Goleta City Council candidates Margaret Connell, left, and Ed Easton have filed an election complaint against an opposition PAC.
Goleta City Council candidates Margaret Connell, left, and Ed Easton have filed an election complaint against an opposition PAC that they say did not properly disclose the names of its contributors. (Sonia Fernandez / Noozhawk photo)

With less than a week before the Nov. 4 election, the race for Goleta’s two City Council seats continues to heat up.

Two candidates — former Councilwoman Margaret Connell and Goleta Planning Commissioner Ed Easton — filed a complaint Tuesday with the state Fair Political Practices Commission over a political action committee that apparently failed to disclose its donors while running an attack ad against the pair.

“It’s not that we’re condemning negative campaigns ...That’s the nature of campaigning,” said Connell. The issue was that this PAC was not reporting its funding sources, she said.

The Coalition for a Healthier Goleta has spent at least $15,000 in the negative ads, the latest being a 30-second spot on Cox TV accusing Connell, among other things, of fiscal irresponsibility with Goleta’s Revenue Neutrality Agreement, which was approved by the inaugural City Council.

“It’s clear that this secret group is more interested in misleading Goleta voters than obeying the law,” Easton said. “Goleta voters are being robbed of their right to know who is paying for these deceptive advertisements.”

City staff reports that little is known about the PAC, as the committee apparently filed its statement of organization with Sacramento at the end of September but neglected to file with Goleta. According to the city clerk, the city was able to obtain the forms only by getting them faxed from the FPPC at around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday. No donor disclosures have yet been found.

According to the PAC’s filing, the director of a Coalition for a Healthier Goleta is Roy Zbinden, a supporter of Councilwoman Jean Blois, who is running for re-election, and Don Gilman. Neither Zbinden nor board members Glenn Avolio or Rodger Johnson have responded to phone calls from Noozhawk. The PAC’s treasurers, David Gould and Michelle Moore Sanders of David L. Gould Co. in Los Angeles declined to comment.

Gilman, the only newcomer to Goleta politics, acknowledges only a fleeting contact with Zbinden and no knowledge of the Coalition for a Healthier Goleta PAC. Blois also asserts that she has not been in touch with Zbinden “for years” since their Goleta Tomorrow days in 2006, at about the same time as the city’s last election.

“I certainly don’t condone of any organization that doesn’t follow the rules,” Blois said.

It is not likely that the FPPC will have any effect on the situation in the next six days, but the PAC in question could be handed a warning or fined up to $5,000 per violation.

Meanwhile, the numbers are in for the candidates’ personal fundraising efforts. Connell leads the pack, having raised $52,913 as of Oct. 18. Notable contributors include the Best Western South Coast Inn at $10,000, commodity trading adviser Richard Whited ($7,500), Morris Jurkowitz ($3,500), Sanders Family I. LLC ($3,500), Pacifica Suites ($3,000), Friends of Salud Carbajal ($2,500), Ramada Limited ($2,500) and Sean Cheketts ($1,000).

Other Connell contributors include 2nd District Planning Commissioner Cecilia Brown ($750), Planned Parenthood Action Fund ($500), former 2nd District Supervisor Susan Rose ($350), former Councilwoman Cynthia Brock ($250), Friends of Helene Schneider ($250), Councilman Roger Aceves ($100), Goleta Valley Historical Society president Robin Cederlof ($100), 3rd Supervisorial District candidate Doreen Farr ($100), state Senate candidate Hannah-Beth Jackson ($100), Environmental Defense Center lead counsel Linda Krop ($100), former 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall ($100), Goleta Planning Commissioner Julie Kessler Solomon ($100), Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams ($100) and 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf ($100).

Second is Easton, who collected $49,343 as of Oct. 20. His top contributors include Whited ($10,500), the Best Western South Coast Inn ($10,000), Jurkowitz ($3,500), Sanders Family I. LLC ($3,500), Pacifica Suites ($3,000) and Ramada Limited ($2,500). Other contributors include Brown ($500), state Coastal Commisioner Sara Wan ($500), Naples Coalition president Phil McKenna ($250), Schneider ($150), Aceves ($100), Farr ($100) and Solomon ($100).

Gilman raised $31,309 by Oct. 24. Top contributions came from the Santa Barbara County Firefighters Government Committee ($2,500), California Real Estate Political Action Committee ($1,500), Conquest Investments LLC ($1,500), Home Builders Association of the Central Coast PAC ($1,000) and Wyatt Technology Corp. ($1,000). Other contributions came from Goleta Mayor Michael Bennett ($250) and Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce chairman Jim Knight ($250).

Blois collected $26,010 by Oct. 24. Her top contributors include the Santa Barbara County Firefighters Government Committee ($2,500), the California Real Estate Political Action Committee ($1,500), Scott Burns ($1,000), Home Builders Association of the Central Coast PAC ($1,000) and Schwan Brothers Inc. ($1,000). Other contributors include Santa Barbara Rental Property Association ($500), Bennett ($250), Knight ($250) and La Sumida Nursery ($250).

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at [email protected]

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