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INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: UNIONS DECEPTIVE RADIO ADS

Kevin Dayton, President and CEO of Labor Issues Solutions

May 16, 2012
[Publisher's Note:  As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from Kevin Dayton, President and CEO of Labor Issues Solutions,. ]

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Investigative Report: Unions Spent $522,500 in Summer 2011 Radio Campaign to Discourage Californians from Exercising Their Right to Petition the Government
Memories are short in politics. The exciting tactics of the moment become stale in a few days. But you may remember the political excitement in the summer of 2011 when commercials ran on radio stations in Sacramento and in Southern California warning listeners that people might steal their identities if they signed petitions to place specific measures on the ballot.

It was a deceptive and brazen attempt to undermine Article 2, Section 1 of the California Constitution: “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform it when the public good may require.”

Where were the ads running? Who was coordinating the campaign? Who was funding the ads? How much was the campaign spending? Below is what I believe to be the first comprehensive public report to answer these questions.

BACKGROUND ABOUT THE SUMMER 2011 IDENTITY THEFT RADIO CAMPAIGN

On July 28, 2011, I began receiving reports of commercials on radio stations in the state’s major metropolitan areas telling listeners that their identities might be stolen if they signed petitions to place measures on the ballot.

I was the State Government Affairs Director of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California at the time, and when the commercials started, the ABC government affairs staff throughout the state immediately suspected unions were behind them. Signatures were being collected at that time from voters in San Diego to place what is now on the June 2012 ballot as Proposition A (Fair and Open Competition) and Proposition B (Pension Reform). In addition, signatures were being collected from voters to place Fair and Open Competition measures on the ballot for the County of Sacramento and the City of Sacramento.

Finally, signatures were also being collected for a statewide paycheck protection ballot measure. A group calling itself Californians Against Identity Theft claimed to pay for the ads. You can hear the first radio ad at this link. The Sacramento Bee and other news outlets reported on the mysterious radio campaign: Radio Ad Claims Signing Initiatives Increases Risk for Identity Theft – Sacramento Bee – July 29, 2011.

Soon after, a Sacramento Bee reporter confirmed that Bob Balgenorth, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, was behind the ads: Building Trades Union Acknowledges Ties to Identity Theft Ads – Sacramento Bee – July 29, 2011. That same day, Californians Against Identity Theft established a web site: http://californiansagainstidentitytheft.org.

The site did not indicate who was funding the group. The only contact information was an anonymous Google e-mail address. On August 2, Amazon.com sent a letter to radio stations asking them to stop running the advertisements. Amazon was collecting signatures regarding new taxes the state was imposing on its transactions in California. Read the Amazon letter at this link.

Also on August 2, San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio – a candidate for Mayor of San Diego and leader of a local pension reform initiative campaign (now Proposition B) – revealed that he had submitted a “complaint” to the Attorney General and to the Fair Political Practices Commission about the group. Read the DeMaio letter to the Attorney General at this link and the DeMaio letter to the FPPC at this link.

The FPPC rejected the DeMaio complaint (see this link) and the Attorney General also rejected it (see this link). The Sacramento Bee reported on these developments and for the first time mentioned the Fair and Open Competition ballot measures as a possible motivation. I was quoted in this article on behalf of ABC of California: Attorney General, FPPC Asked to Investigate Identity Theft Ads – Sacramento Bee – August 2, 2011. On August 3, the committee filed vague Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. See them on pages 7-8 at this link. The group also submitted a vague Form 410 Statement of Organization with the Secretary of State establishing itself as a political committee. See the Form 410 at this link. The name of the committee was “Californians Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud, supported by labor organizations.”

The committee sponsors were the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and the California State Pipe Trades Council. The Treasurer was Tom Adams of the law firm Adams Joseph Broadwell & Cardozo. The additional officers were Bob Balgenorth, head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, and Britton McFetridge, a former top legislative staffer with a phone number listed to the law firm of Olson Hagel & Fishburn LLP. (That law firm’s web site had no references to McFetridge.)

Here is the report from the Sacramento Bee: Californians Against Identity Theft Files as Campaign Committee – Sacramento Bee – August 3, 2011. A second commercial was eventually released and the campaign continued through the end of August 2011. It then faded away, only to be remembered when the State Building and Construction Trades Council credited the radio advertisements as a reason for the failure of the Fair and Open Competition - Sacramento campaign to qualify a ballot measure in the City of Sacramento prohibiting Project Labor Agreements on city projects. (Note: I was the Project Manager for that campaign.)

ABC's Anti-PLA Effort FAILS!

February 1, 2012 - In what is nothing short of a complete disaster for the ABC, their signature gathering effort to place a measure on the ballot to ban PLAs in the City of Sacramento has failed to gather the required number of signatures.

Based on random samplings of signatures, it appears that the ABC turned in huge numbers of invalid signatures, including thousands from people living in Sacramento County but not within the city limits. According to information from the County Registrar of Voters’ office, 20,000 of the more than 45,000 signatures submitted by ABC were invalid. With 32,000 valid signatures of City of Sacramento voters needed to qualify, samplings indicate that no more than 26,000 were actually gathered.

The ABC failure arose from a perfect storm of circumstances, starting with their own stunning incompetence in gathering so many invalid signatures. Organized labor’s “Decline to Sign” counter-campaign also proved effective in convincing voters not to provide their signatures, as was a radio advertising campaign warning of the dangers of identity theft by signature gatherers.

This is a huge victory for the working people of Sacramento, and a completely disastrous outcome for their enemies at ABC.

WHO GOT THE WORK FOR THIS CAMPAIGN?
Here is the campaign information posted on the Secretary of State's web site for Californians Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud, supported by labor organizations. Now we know why The California Majority Group and the law firm of Olson Hagel & Fishburn LLP were keeping the public abreast of the success of the Californians Against Identity Theft advertising campaign: they were making money off of it!
WHO GAVE THE MONEY FOR THIS CAMPAIGN?
Here are the donors of the $522,500 total given to the “Californians Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud, supported by labor organizations."

$150,000.00

Members' Voice of the State Building Trades

$100,000.00

California State Pipe Trades Council

$50,000.00

United Food and Commercial Workers Issue Education Fund

$35,000.00

California Professional Firefighters

$30,000.00

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 47

$30,000.00

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245

$25,000.00

National City Park Apartments No. 1 (I didn't make this one up: it is a "low to moderate income apartment community" owned by the San Diego County Building Trades Family Housing Corporation: see here.)

$25,000.00

San Diego and Imperial Counties Central Labor Council

$25,000.00

Southern California Pipe Trades District Council #16

$25,000.00

Western States Council of Sheet Metal Workers

$15,000.00

California Conference Board Amalgamated Transit Union Issues PAC

$5,000.00

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569

$5,000.00

Painters and Allied Trades District Council #36

$2,500.00

Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council

$522,500.00

Total
WHICH RADIO STATIONS PLAYED THE ADS, AND HOW MUCH MONEY DID THEY GET? Californians Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud reported payments to 33 radio stations: Sacramento Media Market

$19,201.50

KFBK 1530 AM News/Talk

$16,298.75

KSEG 96.9 FM Classic Rock

$11,305.00

KNCI 105.1 FM Country

$11,275.25

KRXQ 98.5 FM Active Rock

$9,180.00

KYMX 96.1 FM Adult Contemporary

$7,191.00

KDND 107.9 FM Contemporary Hits

$6,574.75

KSTE 650 AM News/Talk

$6,324.00

KQJK 93.7 FM Adult Hits

$4,466.75

KHTK 1140 AM Sports

$3,995.00

KGBY 92.5 FM (then) Adult Contemporary

$1,224.00

KNTY101.9 FM Country

$714.00

KHLX 93.1 FM Classic Hits

$97,750.00

Total - Sacramento Media Market
San Francisco/Northern California Media Market

$14,400.00

KCBS 740 AM News
Los Angeles Media Market

$55,420.00

KFI 640 AM News/Talk

$31,005.00

KNX 1070 AM News

$17,255.00

KOST 103.5 FM Adult Contemporary

$16,022.50

KABC 790 AM News/Talk

$15,000.00

KRTH 101.1 FM Classic Hits

$12,941.25

KLOS 95.5 FM Rock

$8,670.00

KKGO 105.1 Country

$8,670.00

KSWD 100.3 Classic Rock

$5,890.00

KFWB 980 AM News/Talk

$170,873.75

Total - Los Angeles Media Market
Riverside-San Bernardino (Inland Empire) Media Market

$4,320.00

KFRG 95.1 FM Country

$3,761.25

KOLA 99.9 Classic Hits

$8081.25

Total - Inland Empire Media Market
San Diego Media Market

$18,929.50

KFMB 100.7 Adult Hits

$18,419.00

KOGO 600 AM News/Talk

$12,835.00

KYXY 96.5 FM Adult Contemporary

$9,996.00

KFMB 760 AM News/Talk

$6,613.00

KIFM 98.1 FM Smooth Adult Contemporary

$6,188.00

KSON 97.3 FM Country

$5,622.75

XEPRS 1090 AM Sports (Tijuana station)

$4,998.00

XHPRS 105.7 FM Oldies (Tijuana station)

$1,963.50

KPRI 102.1 FM Adult Album Alternative

$85,564.75

Total - San Diego Media Market
Grand Total to California Radio Stations:
$376,669.75 WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE IDENTITY THEFT CAMPAIGN SINCE THE SUMMER OF 2011?

In February 2012, Californians Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud made one political campaign contribution of $85,321.88 to "Alliance for a Better California 2012" to fight the “Paycheck Protection” measure on the November 2012 ballot and then terminated as a committee. It's gone now, although the web site remains operational. (It better be operational; it cost the unions $2,860.00.) Let this article serve as the first of many exposés to make unions and their comrades accountable for their effort to derail the political power inherent in the People of California.

____________________________________________________________________________

You can contact Kevin via the FR right here
. Kevin Dayton is President and CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC and the Dayton Public Policy Institute. See his blog postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com.

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