An organization taking shots at Dan Wolk is sticking to its guns — and defending itself against the District 4 Assembly candidate’s characterization of those backing the attack ads as “right-wingers” and “corporate bullies.”
A Wolk fundraising email last week unfairly linked FairPAC and the Koch brothers, billionaire Republican donors, according to Kevin Reikes, a consultant for Media and Associates, which produced a television ad and mailer for FairPAC.
“They’re trying to trick people into believing there’s a right-wing conspiracy out to get Dan Wolk, but that’s not the case, at all,” Reikes said.
FairPAC, run by the Civil Justice Association of California, a tort-reform organization, has a pair of political action committees.
Its PAC for independent expenditures — which cannot be controlled directly by a candidate — has spent $172,508 opposing Wolk, Davis’ mayor pro tem and a pro-union progressive, and $106,374 in support of Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd, a pro-business moderate. Both are Democrats.
FairPAC also maintains a “candidate” PAC that can legally donate directly to candidates. It received contributions in May 2012 and May 2013 from Koch Industries totaling $13,300 — money was returned during the final quarter of 2013.
FairPAC “wants to weasel out of the Koch brothers’ contributions on a technicality,” Wolk’s campaign said in a statement. “They took the money, but then returned it when the heat was on the Koch brothers and their $80 billion fortune going into right-wing causes. You could say FairPAC ‘flip-flopped’ on whether to take Koch brothers’ money.”
Reikes says those funding the PAC are “moderate Democrats looking to find other moderate voices for the Legislature.”
FairPAC’s independent expenditure committee has received funding from the American Insurance Association PAC, Farmers Group Inc., the California Real Estate PAC, The Doctors Company, California Dental Association and the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.
Its primary funder, the Civil Justice Association of California, includes several insurance companies, large banks, real estate and building interests, car makers, pharmaceutical companies, oil and energy interests, as well as other large firms like Apple Computer and organizations like the League of California Cities.
The Enterprise did not reach a FairPAC representative last week for comment about its mailers, which accuse Wolk of “flip-flopping” on issues in a way that makes him untrustworthy. On Tuesday, Reikes clarified the basis for the accusations.
The mailer, for example, says Wolk “promised not to raise water rates without community support,” then voted to raise them 300 percent and ignored the community. The television ad drops any mention of community support.
There’s no record that Wolk promised residents he would not raise rates; however, Reikes pointed to Sacramento Bee coverage of a September 2011 council meeting at which Wolk said he wanted to wait and build community support for a rate hike to support a joint water plant with Woodland.
After an alternative rate plan was offered later during the same meeting, he joined a 4-1 majority in favor of raising rates. Though water rates remain a subject of debate, they are expected to more than double by 2018.
Another example of flip-flopping, the ads say, is Wolk voting against a “fire safety plan.” Reikes said the plan referenced was not a much-debated change in city Fire Department staffing — but rather the consolidation of the city and UC Davis fire departments’ upper management.
In October 2013, Wolk was quoted in The Enterprise as saying that the plan, largely seen as a cost-cutting move, “does make sense.” At the same meeting, Chief Scott Kenley said the move also would increase safety by consolidating training and operations.
Two months later, Wolk voted against consolidation. He has said he had concerns about how decision-making would be handled. Earlier, he had voted to drop boundaries between the departments in the interest of safety.
OpportunityPAC, a pro-union group allied with Wolk, has sent out a series of mailers attacking Dodd.
This is ‘what’s wrong’
Rounding out the primary field are Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza, a Democrat, and Republicans Charlie Schaupp, an Esparto farmer and retired Marine, and Dustin Call, a legislative aide and UC Davis student.
Schaupp said Tuesday that “Wolk and Dodd should hang their heads low for being the epitome of what’s wrong with Sacramento.” He accused them of coordinating the independent expenditure attacks and for sending out other “fluff” mailers telling voters nothing.
Krovoza’s campaign will benefit from $30,000 in independent money from the League of Conservation Voters being spent in support of his candidacy.
In an open letter on Monday, Krovoza denounced negative campaigning by outside groups, writing, “California faces great challenges as it climbs its way out of a devastating recession and grapples with a drought for which our state is inadequately prepared. The debate should focus on solving problems, not on bickering about spurious attacks.”
— Reach Cory Golden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden