Oakland Mayoral candidate Marcie Hodge continues to violate state and local election laws by not disclosing her contributors even though she has easily spent more than $50,000 so far on billboards, mailers, and radio and TV ads. Hodge has failed to file legally required campaign finance reports in the mayor’s race, missing two statutory deadlines — October 5 and October 21. It is unlawful for a candidate to not disclose her donors by the statutory deadlines, and the penalties can be more severe if she fails to do so by Election Day.
“It’s very serious — there can be criminal penalties as well as civil penalties,” said Bob Stern, president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles and former general counsel of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Stern explained that the purpose of requiring candidates to file campaign finance reports is to force them to disclose who is paying for their campaigns before the election.
Numerous political leaders and observers in Oakland believe that ex-senator Don Perata’s donors are bankrolling Hodge’s campaign in an effort to siphon votes from two of his main rivals, Councilwomen Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan. Hodge has denied it, but in a previous interview, she acknowledged that her mayoral campaign was being financed by some of the same donors who helped her unsuccessful bid in 2006 for city council. Several of Perata’s best contributors helped pay for that campaign. In addition, Perata’s campaign manager Larry Tramutola was Hodge’s campaign manager in 2006.
Today, Hodge paid for a sticky, Post-It Note-style ad that was placed on the front page of the Oakland Tribune. Such high-profile advertising typically costs thousands of dollars. Last month, Hodge sent out a four-page glossy mailer and it apparently went to every home in the city. Such mailers typically cost $30,000 to $40,000. Under the law, a candidate must disclose her donors once she has raised or spent more than $1,000.
When asked today in a brief phone interview why she still had not filed a required campaign finance disclosure report, she responded: “The City Clerk’s Office doesn’t close until 5.” When asked why she had missed the deadline by three-and-one-half weeks, she said: “Can you hold? I was on another call.” Hodge then never came back on the line and she eventually hung up. When this reporter called back, another person answered her phone and said Hodge was unavailable.
Hodge has a history of not filing campaign finance disclosure forms until months after an election is over. Previously, she has said that she gave her own mayoral campaign a large personal loan. But such a loan must be publicly disclosed by the legal deadline. Moreover, it’s unclear where Hodge got the money because when she filed her mayoral candidacy papers in August, she signed a legal financial disclosure document, declaring that she had no job, no income, and no investments worth more than $500 this year. "It's very suspicious," Stern said.