The committee distributing the Voter Assistance Guide, a slate mailer touting Democratic candidates for this year’s Irvine City Council election, has raised $23,500 as of Sept. 30, according to the pre-election financial disclosure statement for the slate mailer committee.
The slate mailer’s haul is far less than the totals of previous cycles, and there are differing opinions among campaign watchers as to whether a lot of last-minute cash will flow into the committee.
In the past, slate mailer committees collected hundreds of thousands of dollars and were criticized for taking advantage of a loophole in Irvine’s campaign finance law. Community News and Views, a 2008 slate mailer made up to look like a newspaper, took contributions from other committees bankrolled by Great Park consultants that received no-bid contracts with the park.
Nearly all the cash so far for the Voter Assistance Guide has come from incumbent Larry Agran’s campaign committee and a committee supporting the city’s green and education ballot initiatives. Those committees gave $15,000 and $7,500, respectively.
The campaign committee for Shiva Farivar, who is on Agran’s slate, gave $1,000.
Republican pollster and Irvine insider Adam Probolsky says that, given the state of the economy and development in the city, he expects less special interest money coming into the council race. Probolsky also said he doesn’t believe the slate mailer committee will have raised as much money as its predecessors.
Planning commissioner and former council member Greg Smith disagrees. Smith says that, come January, the slate mailer will have taken in about the same amount as Community News and Views did in 2008.
“Traditionally that really big money doesn’t show up until the last minute — so it’s not reportable until the election has been held,” Smith said.
Smith said that the Great Park contracts “are the only game in town,” and that the park’s consultants, who gave big money to committees that bankrolled Community News and Views in 2008, have great motivation to keep those contracts.
“I can’t imagine that people who have contracts at the Great Park aren’t going to do everything in their power to keep their contracts,” Smith said.