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California | East Bay | Government & Elections

Petition Launched over Citizens United Impact on Alameda Politics
by David Howard
Tuesday Jun 26th, 2012 8:20 AM
Alameda residents have started a petition to block State Democratic Party endorsement of 18th Assembly District Candidate Rob Bonta, as he was the beneficiary of massive, anonymous spending in 2010, as a result of the Citizen's United decision.
Alameda residents have started a petition to block State Democratic Party endorsement of 18th Assembly District Candidate Rob Bonta, as he was the beneficiary of massive, anonymous spending in 2010, as a result of the Citizen's United decision.

Here is the text of the petition letter:

We are asking your help to fight against the local effects of the Citizens United decision in the City of Alameda and the 18th Assembly District. We want the California Democratic Party to block any possible endorsement of Rob Bonta for the 18th Assembly District when a local committee of Democrats will decide between Mr. Bonta and Peralta College Trustee Abel Guillen on July 15, 2012.

Because of the Citizens United decision the City of Alameda's last city council race saw a tremendous number of anonymous negative mailers attacking every viable council candidate except two. Rob Bonta was one of the two candidates not attacked in the flood of mailers and he was elected to the city council. Because of the onslaught of hundreds of thousands of dollars of negative ads flooding the mailboxes in a city of 42,000 registered voters, Alameda is one of the first small cities to feel the effects of the Citizens United decision.

The City of Alameda in the 18th Assembly District has a large area of available real estate, Alameda's former Naval Air Station, which comprises about 20% of the Island of Alameda. When a large developer failed to get what it wanted from either the Alameda City Council or the voters of Alameda (their proposal failed 85% to 15% in a special election on February 2, 2010) they threatened Mayor Beverly Johnson stating they would simply get the people they wanted elected to the city council. They proved this with their attack mailers for the November 2010 city council election. Voters were inundated with mailers attacking every credible candidate except two. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, the mailers were from an anonymous group. However, the out-of-town mailers did come from the same office building which housed a subsidiary of the developer who threatened Mayor Johnson. During that election Mayor Johnson repeatedly kept asking voters, "Look at who is NOT being attacked." (Mayor Johnson described theses threats and made that statement at the Alameda League of Women Voters. The video is available at http://alameda.ca.lwvnet.org/elections.html)

Given this electoral history, if Mr. Bonta is named as the official candidate of the Democratic Party, it will be a de facto endorsement of the Citizens United decision. Mr. Bonta's Democratic opponent, Peralta College Trustee Abel Guillen, has never been a beneficiary of massive, outside attack mailers. Therefore, we are asking the California Democrat Party to intervene so that either Mr. Guillen is designated the Democratic standard bearer or, at a minimum, no endorsement is made letting the voters of the 18th Assembly District choose their next assembly member. The 18th Assembly District has an overwhelming Democratic registration and anyone named the Democratic Party's official candidate has an overwhelming advantage. The Citizens United decision has already allowed anonymous real estate developers to give a large advantage to Mr. Bonta. The Democratic Party should not be following that example but fight against it.

To be clear, this is not a personal attack on Mr. Bonta. This is a recitation of history. We ask your help so that history does not repeat itself.