Friday, October 26, 2012

Oakland Zoo Campaign Spending Tops $800,000

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 5:03 PM

New public reports reveal that the private nonprofit that runs the Oakland Zoo has cut checks for more than $800,000 to its campaign in support of Measure A1, making it one of the expensive political campaigns in the East Bay this year. The reports show that the East Bay Zoological Society cut two checks in recent weeks for $200,000 and $225,000, which were in addition to the $375,000 that the nonprofit already spent on the campaign. In addition, the reports indicate that the Zoological Society is still operating its campaign headquarters at the zoo, which violates local and state laws because the property is owned by the citizens of Oakland and it’s illegal to run political campaigns on public land.

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The huge donations to the Measure A1 campaign come in stark contrast to assertions made by the Zoological Society that it’s in desperate need of money and will have to eliminate programs for children if Alameda County voters reject the property tax measure. The Express previously reported that the Zoological Society’s federal tax returns show that the nonprofit appears to have plenty of money. From 2008 through 2010, the most recent year in which data is publicly available, the Zoological Society reported to the IRS that it had net operating surpluses averaging $2.6 million a year.

As of October 24, the Zoological Society had committed to spending at least $819,620 in support of Measure A1. Attendees at a recent public forum on the measure said that Zoological Society Executive Director Joel Parrott told the audience that his organization planned to spend $1 million trying to get Measure A1 passed.

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