◼ SECRET GROUP BEHIND ATTACK ADS: The Journal 11/04/04
A group calling itself Eureka Coalition for Jobs funded a last-minute burst of TV ads and mailers attacking City Councilman Chris Kerrigan, who was running for re-election. Accompanied by ominous music, the ad said that Kerrigan "promised to fight for good-paying jobs, but where are they? Our economy is shrinking, and major employers are slipping away. Wages are falling. No more empty promises. We want jobs." Kerrigan's opponent in the Ward 4 race, Rex Bohn, immediately distanced himself from the ad campaign, saying he was not behind it and had no idea who was. Why didn't the group file a campaign finance form identifying contributors? It may not have had to. According to the Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento, the group would qualify as an "independent expenditure committee" if it spent $1,000 or more to oppose a single candidate or ballot measure. But it gets more complicated: The ad in question must be one that "expressly advocates" the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or measure, or "unambiguously urges a particular result in an election" Kerrigan campaign advisor Richard Salzman said he believes that under the courts' interpretation of the Fair Political Practices Act the anti-Kerrigan ads would not, unfortunately, require disclosure of the funders. "Nobody with this kind of money is gonna hire an incompetent lawyer," Salzman said. The backers "know how to walk just half a step behind the line."