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Out-Of-State Developers Dump Money On Primack

Primack's developer friends from out-of-state dump last minute $25K on Primack campaign defeating spirit of fair campaign practice law.
Developers’ last-minute $25K backs Primack for supervisor
Wormhoudt camp says group violated ‘the spirit of the law’
Sentinel staff writer
A political action committee, funded by $25,000 in donations from out-of-area developers and local landowners, has launched a last-minute campaign blitz for county supervisor candidate Mark Primack.

Leaving incumbent Mardi Wormhoudt with almost no chance to respond, the Committee for Better Local Government’s fliers, phone calls, and television and newspaper ads started hitting voters Saturday and continued to fill print and dominate airwaves Sunday and Monday.

Five local and out-of-state donors gave the mysterious committee $5,000 apiece to take on Wormhoudt. The large cash infusion is rare for a local election — county ordinances limit individual contributions to specific candidates to $250; business or labor organizations contributions are limited to $600.

The Committee for Better Local Government is exempt from those limits, however, because it filed as a general-purpose committee. A general-purpose committee does not form in support of any specific candidate or ballot measure and must operate independently from them.

The Committee for Better Local Government kept its intent to stump for Primack a secret until the last minute by waiting until Sunday to file campaign-finance disclosures.

Committee backers appear to have violated no laws, but the Wormhoudt campaign called the tactic a "shocking" and "nasty turn" for local, grass-roots government.

"While it may not violate the letter of the law, it certainly violates the spirit of the law," said Tim Jenkins, Wormhoudt’s campaign manager. "Voters in this community don’t have the power that a construction company in New Jersey does."

Wormhoudt said the last-minute blitz proves what she’s been saying about Primack has been right all along.

"This is a campaign about development. This late list of huge contributions from developers shows that’s the case, and I think people need to know about it," she said.

Primack said he’s never heard of or talked to the committee, much less its backers.

"This has nothing to do with me," he said. "I have no idea what this is all about. ... All I can assume is these are people who hate Mardi. It’s not a campaign to get me elected, it’s a campaign against Mardi."

Contributors to the Committee for Better Local Government include:

McDougal Brothers Investments, an Oregon-based logging and real-estate company that has sold property holdings in the Santa Cruz mountains to luxury-home developers.

Harbourton Enterprises of New Jersey. David Mills, a North Coast resident and Stanford University law lecturer, is a managing partner in the company, which has an office in downtown Santa Cruz. Mills and local developer Brian Sweeney are currently trying to build a large home on land they own in the Sand Hill Bluff area. The project, on the ocean side of Highway 1, would be the first home built in the coastal view shed. It is opposed by local conservation groups, who say it would lead to "monster home" blight of the North Coast ocean view. Harbourton Enterprises has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to various Democratic causes.

Sonia Lee Kahn, wife of Phillipe Kahn, owner of Lightsurf Technologies. Phillipe Kahn’s attempt to build a large "surf house" on West Cliff Drive was rejected by the City Council in September 1999 as out-of-scale with the neighborhood. The seven-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot home would have stood 24 feet high and included a 3,700-square-foot, eight-car basement garage. It would have been the largest home on West Cliff.

Baywood Homes Corp. of San Jose. The company is not listed in the phone book and does not show up on Internet searches. Its listed address is an office development home to dental, psychiatric and medical offices.

Katherine Isabel, L.L.C., of Santa Cruz.
Judith Osborn of Felton is listed as the Committee for Better Local Government’s treasurer. Osborn did not return repeated calls from the Sentinel.


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killed Mark's campaign

After enduring many long years of my husband's frustration with the Santa Cruz Planning Department and being recently really uplifted by Mark's imminently successful campaign to unseat Mardi Wormhoudt, I was completely mortified when I read the above article in the Sentinel on Election Day. How could a committee, unknown to Mark, kill his campaign in one day!! This one action collapsed a year of hard work, and money. But more importantly, we are stuck with four more years of Mardi in power and static government policies. Thanks a lot, you "out-of-towners" who have ruined it for us.


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