Editor’s Correction: In the Oct. 28 issue, the man identified in a photo as former Sheriff Jim Thomas was actually Sheriff’s Lt. Butch Arnoldi. The Daily Nexus regrets this error.
With time for campaigning rapidly dwindling, parties on both sides of the recall campaign are spending money faster than they are taking it in.
Voters will decide in the upcoming Nov. 5 election whether former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas will replace Gail Marshall as the present 3rd District supervisor, ending Marshall’s term a year early. The decision – which could be largely swayed by the votes of UCSB students – could impact the entire county’s future stance regarding development and the environment.
According to the Recipient Committee Campaign Statements, the Committee to Recall Gail Marshall has spent approximately $270,000 on television and radio commercials, fliers, campaign literature and other advertisements. Nearly $265,000 of the total money spent was contributed by outside parties. The Santa Barbara Land and Agriculture Pact, Friends of Jim Thomas and the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriff’s Association have also contributed to the recall effort. Together these committees have spent nearly $700,000.
The Committee to Support Gail Marshall – or, No on Recall – has spent approximately $405,000, about $380,000 of which came from monetary contributions.
Between Oct. 1 and 19, the Recall Committee spent almost $30,000 – $20,000 more than donations received. Despite this difference the committee has no outstanding debt. During the same period, the No on Recall committee spent over $140,000, but only received $122,000 in contributions. No on Recall is currently over $75,000in debt.
According to the campaign reports, Joel Silverman, president of the Isla Vista Property Owners Association, donated $10,000 to the Land and Agriculture Pact. Venoco, Inc., a local oil company, has also donated money to the Pact. The Land Pact has donated approximately $91,000 to the Recall Committee.
Recall campaign director Lammy Johnstone-Kockler said the Recall Committee has not received any money from land developers or oil companies.
“We’re definitely not getting any money from developers,” she said. “All the developers’ money is going to [the No on Recall Committee].”
Johnstone-Kockler said most of the committee’s financing comes from the Land and Agriculture Pact, an organization consisting of hundreds of families, mostly ranchers and farmers in the Santa Ynez Valley.
“There’s such a wide spectrum of people; it’s really a grassroots movement,” she said. “These people donate money to [the Pact], who in turn donates money to what it feels will be beneficial for its supporters. Some people give $5, some people give $500. One woman sent me $1 because that was all she could afford.”
According to the campaign statements, the Friends of Jim Thomas has received$15,000 from Rio Vista Products, a Santa Maria horse products company; $10,000 from Rocky Mountain Support Services, a subsidiary of title insurance company Fidelity National Financial; and $10,000 from Adrienne L. Trousdale.
No on Recall campaign manager Das Williams said the financial support for Gail Marshall has come mostly from 1,350 individual donors.
“I have never seen such a grassroots swelling as there has been behind Gail Marshall,” Williams said. “The lion’s share of our money comes from middle-class folks who are concerned about having a slow-growth county.”
According to the campaign statements, No on Recall has received$3,000 from Hannah-Beth Jackson for Assembly, $2,500 each from Les and Zora Charles, $1,500 from Chuck Blitz, co-owner of El Capitan Ranch, and $5,000 from the Friends of Louis Capps.
Williams said the majority of money given in support of the recall comes from large, special interest groups such as I.V. landlords, developers, oil companies and the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez Valley. However, the Committee to Recall Gail Marshall is able to deny receiving special interest money because those funds are deposited elsewhere first.
“I.V. landlords will donate to the Land and Ag Pact, who then donates to the Recall Committee,” he said. “It’s their way of laundering their money. I think voters should be concerned that the county could be taken over by those special interests.”
Johnstone-Kockler said the No on Recall Committee has received money from “big developers” such as Wayne Siemens and Jeff Bermant.
Overall, Williams said the committees in support of the recall are outspending the No on Recall campaign by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“My main comment to that is, what a waste. That’s not even including the money the county has to spend just to deal with this,” he said. “That money would have been well spent on constructive solutions for the county. If it wasn’t Gail it would have been someone else. This isn’t about Gail, it’s about control of the county.”