Developer Backed PAC Raised $500,000

Political action committee Santa Monicans for a United Future raised nearly $500,000 during the 2012 City Council election to support campaigns for Gleam Davis, Terry O'Day and Ted Winterer, new documents show.

Two developers with big, controversial projects awaiting City Council approval each poured $100,000 into a political action committee that ended up raising nearly $500,000, new documents show.

According to the final round of financial disclosure statements filed with the City Clerk's office, the owners of the Fairmont-Miramar Hotel and former Papermate site contributed $200,000 to Santa Monicans for a United Future, a PAC supported by developer interests. It advocated for the re-election of incumbents Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day and Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer.

The Miramar, owned by Ocean Avenue LLC, is seeking approval to redo and expand with the addition of up to 120 condominiums and more than 18,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. Hines 26th Street LLC is seeking approval for a 766,000 square-foot mixed-use housing/commercial/office project called the "Bergamot Transit Village Center" at the old Papermate site.

Both projects face opposition from some residents and local neighborhood groups.

See: ; Transit Village Fight Crosses City Borders

SMURF was founded shortly before the November elections with contributions from Santa Monica's biggest apartment developer, NMS Properties, Inc. Some of the first donors also included Century West Partners, LLC; Ideal Properties, LLC; and Roberts Business Park—SM, LLC. Other small contributions, each less than $2,000, came from a handful of real estate, engineering and architectural firms.

It total, SMURF raised $497,400 and spent $452,544, the new financial reports show. It devoted much of its money, $117,685, on Davis. It spent $102,960 on O'Day and $79,556.

Alan Epstein, who has represented the hotel at City Council meetings and who is named as SMURF's officer on the financial reports, did not return a message seeking comment.

All of the expenditures are for "counseling," "printing," "walkers," "postage," and "supplies," the reports show. The donations were designated "independent expenditures," meaning money was not directly deposited into the candidates' campaign funds, and the candidates did not to have control over the money raised by the committee.

All three candidates tried to distance themselves from SMURF.

"Many are puzzled why a developer funded committee would back a candidate such as myself with a record of advocacy for responsible growth," Winterer said in October. "I cannot answer that question."

"Given the ability of some PACs and Independent Expenditures to reach a scale that dwarfs individual candidates own campaigns and misrepresents them," Davis and Day said in a statement in October, "these 'pop-up' groups that claim to be community-based but don't have community credentials can have a deleterious impact on our elections and we denounce them."

SMURF also supported candidate Shari Davis, but she did not win.

Additionally, the PAC spent $10,000 advocating for the passage of a bond measure, Measure ES, to fund facility and technology improvements at the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

See: Huntley Hotel Put $20K Into Slow Growth PAC

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Brenda Barnes February 05, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Great idea, but developers use money, so we will need some to beat them. Reminds me of the saying won't it be great when the Pentagon has to have bake sales to buy bombers (drones), and schools are funded again with neverending money b/c we know what is important.
Brenda Barnes February 05, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Absolutely. ASAP. B/4 they destroy the whole City. I said when we were fighting bulldozing of homes we own at Village Trailer Park that if they succeeded at that, all homeowners in town were in danger of losing their homes. There always is a way for developers to make more on development than just single family homes. They took many apt buildings with Ellis, and they have their sights on all the rest. But who would have thought they would already show people on Montana and Main Street how true that is? It's time. Developers' lapdogs with no plan other than "transit-oriented development" and taking a cut of each one to run the City have to go.
suzie suz February 05, 2013 at 10:00 PM
ReCALL for sure DO NOT SELL OUR CITY to outside disrupters
suzie suz February 05, 2013 at 10:03 PM
ReCall for sure DO NOT SELL OUR CITY TO OUTSIDE DISRUPTERS with deep pockets. Already ruining Santa Monica charm.
Fred Alexander February 06, 2013 at 07:38 PM
The wisdom of our planning dept. is to force people to ride bicyles, walk, take the bus/rail by building high density projects with limited parking. You really have to wonder what they are smoking.


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