Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata is apparently too embarrassed about his job as a highly paid consultant for the California prison guard’s union to list it on the November ballot. Indeed, the ex-state senator has taken the unusual step of listing no job title at all. As a result, his ballot designation just says, “Don Perata.”
A candidate not listing his job title directly under his name on the ballot is rare. Perata is the only candidate — statewide or in Oakland — not to have done so on the local ballot. His main competitors, Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan, list their jobs as Oakland city councilmembers, and Joe Tuman lists his as “professor/political analyst.”
“I think it shows what he really ‘believes’ about Oakland voters,” Kaplan said. “It shows that he ‘believes’ they won’t vote for him if they know he works for the prison lobby.”
The California Correctional Peace Officers Association hired Perata in early 2009 as a “political consultant” just after he was termed out of the state senate. The union is Perata’s only publicly known employer and it has paid him at least $469,000, records show. The high pay also has raised numerous questions about what Perata is doing currently for the union — or whether it’s merely about payback. During his time in the senate, Perata helped protect the union from state budget cuts. The union also financed two hit-piece mailers against Quan and Kaplan earlier this year.
So why didn’t Perata just list his job title as “former senator?” Presumably because it would have been illegal. Under election law, a candidate must list his or her current job title on the ballot — not one from two years ago, Kaplan noted.
As a result, Perata’s only option would have been to reveal his current job to voters. And it’s a no-brainer that calling attention to your work for the prison guard’s union wouldn’t be a smart political move in a progressive town like Oakland.