News

Outside money pours into the Mountain View City Council race

Campaign signs at the corner of Latham Street and Shoreline Boulevard. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A wave of independent expenditures is pouring into the race for the Mountain View City Council, with three groups recently dropping large sums of money to support or oppose candidates in the race.

The influx of campaign money has revived concerns that unchecked spending from outside groups amounts to unwanted meddling in the council race, diminishing the value of the city's voluntary campaign spending limits.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors disclosed it had spent just over $29,000 to support Councilwoman Lisa Matichak's reelection campaign, using the group's nonprofit political arm to spend big on mailers, polling and online ads. And on Tuesday, The Silicon Valley Organization's political action committee spent $29,200 to oppose candidate and former state Assemblywoman Sally Lieber.

The Mountain View Professional Firefighters Political Action Committee has also sent out multiple mailers in support of a slate of candidates -- Matichak, Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga and candidate Jose Gutierrez. The group is a local organization funded by fire department personnel, but has yet to disclose how much money has been spent on the effort.

Past campaign records show the National Association of Realtors does not have a history of involvement in the City Council race, but has dropped large sums of money to help candidates elsewhere in the Bay Area. Notably, the organization has spent $56,862 to support Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein's reelection bid this year, again through mailers, polling and online ads. In 2018, the group spent $33,789 on San Jose Councilwoman Pam Foley's campaign.

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The California Real Estate Political Action Committee -- funded through the California Association of Realtors -- also contributed $2,000 to both Matichak and Abe-Koga's reelection campaigns. The donations are distinct from independent expenditures, but nevertheless reveal a pattern of influence from realtor groups in the race.

Representatives from the National Association of Realtors did not respond to requests for comment.

In an email, Matichak said she was not aware of any outside spending from the association in support of her campaign. Generally speaking, she said she is okay with groups making independent expenditures so long as they are positive and support a candidate or a measure, and only if the organization behind the spending is easily identifiable. This was a particular problem in the 2014 council race, when a shadowy group calling itself the Neighborhood Empowerment Coalition spent in excess of $85,000 in support of three candidates. It was later revealed that much of the group's spending was fueled by money from the California Apartment Association (CAA) in support of former council members Ken Rosenberg and Pat Showalter as well as councilwoman Ellen Kamei, who ran in 2014 and was later elected in 2018.

The CAA appears to have an influence on the latest round of outside spending as well. Campaign filings from the Silicon Valley Organization, a coalition of Bay Area business leaders and chambers of commerce, show that the group not only spent money in opposition to Lieber, but also collected more than $230,000 from heavy hitters in the local real estate and building industries over the last two months. The group received $50,000 from the California Apartment Association's political action committee, $50,000 from the California Association of Realtors and $35,000 from San Jose Cityview, an affiliate of the San Francisco-based developer Jay Paul Co.

Lieber said it's both expected and regrettable to see opposition spending against her campaign, and that it's a clear signal that outsiders -- namely giant corporate landlords -- are using their influence to try to determine who will represent Mountain View's citizens. She said she wears it as a badge of honor, and vowed to limit this kind of outside spending if she is elected to office next month.

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"As a person who has lived here in the community for 27 years, I'm offended and I'm disgusted by their intrusion in our community," Lieber said. "There is not a single thing that the Silicon Valley Organization has done for our community that I can identify. I don't see their support for our schools, I don't see their support for our community organizations."

Big spending from outside groups is a relatively new problem for Mountain View, Lieber said, and is inherently negative even if it is in support of a candidate. All it serves to do is tamper in a local election and try to influence who lands a seat on the City Council. She said it's unclear why realtors are so interested in the city, but that it could have something to do with rent control and the possible extension of renter protections to mobile home parks.

City officials said they have not received any campaign filings from the Mountain View Professional Firefighters Political Action Committee for the upcoming election. The latest campaign finance filings for the group date back to 2018, when the group contributed money to Gov. Gavin Newsom's election campaign.

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Outside money pours into the Mountain View City Council race

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, Oct 15, 2020, 1:49 pm

A wave of independent expenditures is pouring into the race for the Mountain View City Council, with three groups recently dropping large sums of money to support or oppose candidates in the race.

The influx of campaign money has revived concerns that unchecked spending from outside groups amounts to unwanted meddling in the council race, diminishing the value of the city's voluntary campaign spending limits.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors disclosed it had spent just over $29,000 to support Councilwoman Lisa Matichak's reelection campaign, using the group's nonprofit political arm to spend big on mailers, polling and online ads. And on Tuesday, The Silicon Valley Organization's political action committee spent $29,200 to oppose candidate and former state Assemblywoman Sally Lieber.

The Mountain View Professional Firefighters Political Action Committee has also sent out multiple mailers in support of a slate of candidates -- Matichak, Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga and candidate Jose Gutierrez. The group is a local organization funded by fire department personnel, but has yet to disclose how much money has been spent on the effort.

Past campaign records show the National Association of Realtors does not have a history of involvement in the City Council race, but has dropped large sums of money to help candidates elsewhere in the Bay Area. Notably, the organization has spent $56,862 to support Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein's reelection bid this year, again through mailers, polling and online ads. In 2018, the group spent $33,789 on San Jose Councilwoman Pam Foley's campaign.

The California Real Estate Political Action Committee -- funded through the California Association of Realtors -- also contributed $2,000 to both Matichak and Abe-Koga's reelection campaigns. The donations are distinct from independent expenditures, but nevertheless reveal a pattern of influence from realtor groups in the race.

Representatives from the National Association of Realtors did not respond to requests for comment.

In an email, Matichak said she was not aware of any outside spending from the association in support of her campaign. Generally speaking, she said she is okay with groups making independent expenditures so long as they are positive and support a candidate or a measure, and only if the organization behind the spending is easily identifiable. This was a particular problem in the 2014 council race, when a shadowy group calling itself the Neighborhood Empowerment Coalition spent in excess of $85,000 in support of three candidates. It was later revealed that much of the group's spending was fueled by money from the California Apartment Association (CAA) in support of former council members Ken Rosenberg and Pat Showalter as well as councilwoman Ellen Kamei, who ran in 2014 and was later elected in 2018.

The CAA appears to have an influence on the latest round of outside spending as well. Campaign filings from the Silicon Valley Organization, a coalition of Bay Area business leaders and chambers of commerce, show that the group not only spent money in opposition to Lieber, but also collected more than $230,000 from heavy hitters in the local real estate and building industries over the last two months. The group received $50,000 from the California Apartment Association's political action committee, $50,000 from the California Association of Realtors and $35,000 from San Jose Cityview, an affiliate of the San Francisco-based developer Jay Paul Co.

Lieber said it's both expected and regrettable to see opposition spending against her campaign, and that it's a clear signal that outsiders -- namely giant corporate landlords -- are using their influence to try to determine who will represent Mountain View's citizens. She said she wears it as a badge of honor, and vowed to limit this kind of outside spending if she is elected to office next month.

"As a person who has lived here in the community for 27 years, I'm offended and I'm disgusted by their intrusion in our community," Lieber said. "There is not a single thing that the Silicon Valley Organization has done for our community that I can identify. I don't see their support for our schools, I don't see their support for our community organizations."

Big spending from outside groups is a relatively new problem for Mountain View, Lieber said, and is inherently negative even if it is in support of a candidate. All it serves to do is tamper in a local election and try to influence who lands a seat on the City Council. She said it's unclear why realtors are so interested in the city, but that it could have something to do with rent control and the possible extension of renter protections to mobile home parks.

City officials said they have not received any campaign filings from the Mountain View Professional Firefighters Political Action Committee for the upcoming election. The latest campaign finance filings for the group date back to 2018, when the group contributed money to Gov. Gavin Newsom's election campaign.

Comments

Big outside real estate interests
Registered user
another community
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:13 pm
Big outside real estate interests, another community
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:13 pm
242 people like this

Big, outside real estate interests want Matichak and Abe-Koga. You know what to do, Mountain View! Vote the MV Voice’s endorsed candidates: Lieber, Showalter, Nunez, and Siegel!


Gladys
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:37 pm
Gladys, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:37 pm
169 people like this

What I find most offensive about the actions from any council candidate is when they threaten a private/public citizen for speaking out against the candidate past record as a council person.

Lenny Siegel and Pat Showalter were voted out of office. Voters rejected Siegel last time he was on the council and view him, IMHO, in a negative/offensive manor. He did not seem to care about residents opinions if it was not his own opinion. He openly mocked past and present council members, and public citizens from the Dias. Siegel came in 5th out of 6 candidates in his last council race.

His position on not enforcing the existing laws for people living in their vehicle's has lead to the ever growing number of RV's coming here. The city of Sunnyvale police were handing out flyers at one time to RV'ers telling them to come to Mtn. View. Tent cities will most likely be next for us if Lenny is returned to council. Lenny Siegel is part of the group that gathered signatures to put on the ballot, Measure C, to overturn the narrow street parking ban on streets less than 40 feet wide for RV's.
Having LARGE RV's parking on narrow streets is a safety issue to me, and if a candidate does not see that, IMO they should not be sitting on the council

Lenny Siegel was voted OUT of office for a reason, lets not make the mistake of voting him back in only to regret it and have to wait another 4 years before we can vote him out.

I have one other reason to not vote Siegel back in, Lenny threatened me with a libel suit, as I interpret it, if I do not stop talking about his record. He also controls a group called the "Mountain View Housing Coalition" He wants to know who I am, why you ask? Maybe because he wants his members to come and talk with me?

IMO, it is wrong for any council member to be sitting on the Dias and have their members, 20-30-40 members from their organization to come and speak out on issues that he wants passed or voted down on. It smells like a conflict of interest to me. Several of those people speaking out in the Mountain View council chambers do not even live in our city.

Here is Lenny Siegel's post in which he is addressing me in his comment.

Posted by Lenny Siegel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 11, 2020 at 12:11 pm
Lenny Siegel is a registered user.

@Gladys
I have no problem debating Measure C or any other city policy, but I am politely asking you now to desist from your continuing libel of me and secondly, to identify yourself so people can consider why you are so obsessed with this unfortunate episode.


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 15, 2020 at 3:22 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 3:22 pm
205 people like this

In response to Gladys you said:

“What I find most offensive about the actions from any council candidate is when they threaten a private/public citizen for speaking out against the candidate past record as a council person.”

Please provide proof of such a threat. So far Your making up stories. No one threatened you physically, mentally, or emotionally. You said:

“Lenny Siegel and Pat Showalter were voted out of office. Voters rejected Siegel last time he was on the council and view him, IMHO, in a negative/offensive manor. He did not seem to care about residents opinions if it was not his own opinion. He openly mocked past and present council members, and public citizens from the Dias. Siegel came in 5th out of 6 candidates in his last council race.”

Yes, true but John Inks came in last, you said:

“His position on not enforcing the existing laws for people living in their vehicle's has lead to the ever growing number of RV's coming here. The city of Sunnyvale police were handing out flyers at one time to RV'ers telling them to come to Mtn. View. Tent cities will most likely be next for us if Lenny is returned to council. Lenny Siegel is part of the group that gathered signatures to put on the ballot, Measure C, to overturn the narrow street parking ban on streets less than 40 feet wide for RV's.

Having LARGE RV's parking on narrow streets is a safety issue to me, and if a candidate does not see that, IMO they should not be sitting on the council”

The CURRENT laws during his membership on the board ALLOWED RVs to park if the registered with the city Police. But did you even know that? The RV Ban came afterwards and he campaigned for the Ballot Measure C so that the citizens can make the decision to enforce the City Councils current approach, that’s all. You said:

“I have one other reason to not vote Siegel back in, Lenny threatened me with a libel suit, as I interpret it, if I do not stop talking about his record. He also controls a group called the "Mountain View Housing Coalition" He wants to know who I am, why you ask? Maybe because he wants his members to come and talk with me?”

You are guilty of libel if you PUBLISH FALSE STATEMENTS, and you should know it. It applies to EVERYONE. So if I were to libel you, I would be in the same position, right, You are not special here. You said:

“IMO, it is wrong for any council member to be sitting on the Dias and have their members, 20-30-40 members from their organization to come and speak out on issues that he wants passed or voted down on. It smells like a conflict of interest to me. Several of those people speaking out in the Mountain View council chambers do not even live in our city.”

Those 20-30-40 members ARE CITY CITIZENS using the FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. What you don’t like is the CAR and the CAA driving in INTERCity citizens expressing their voices being completely out counted the INTRACity citizens. And what is important is the City Charter and the Oath of Office of a City Council member purports that the City Citizens interests outweigh private outside interests. But this is not singling out you or your friends for unfair treatment. This is just the way it will always be.

I just think your trying to play the victim of abuse, when you and your friends can be argued to be abusing anyone you can?


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Oct 15, 2020 at 3:44 pm
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 3:44 pm
6 people like this

@Kevin, a mention of the record outside involvement ( $ 85 000) in a previous election would be warranted. Especially since a current candidate was involved. But it is always easier to make the candidates you don't support look bad.


Kevin Forestieri
Registered user
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Oct 15, 2020 at 3:57 pm
Kevin Forestieri, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 3:57 pm
10 people like this

@Polomom

Thanks for the tip! That information is in our 2014 and 2015 coverage (linked in the story), but I added it here as well.


badgolfer
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Oct 15, 2020 at 4:25 pm
badgolfer, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 4:25 pm
7 people like this

Go ahead, spend your money and give the USPO some work. I recycle your mailers as fast as I get them because I already voted against the incumbents because they are anti-democratic. Just don't dare to call or text me or show up knocking on my door.


Gladys
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 15, 2020 at 6:55 pm
Gladys, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 6:55 pm
242 people like this

@Kevin Forestieri
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer,

There should be a way for the Voice to "lock out" in some way, members here who abuse this forum by "spam posting the Likes"

The BM-Steven Goldstein, has been spam posting thousands of "Likes" these past 10 days. 200 likes in 4 hours just on this thread. Ridicules.


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 15, 2020 at 6:59 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 6:59 pm
275 people like this

Gladys,

My friends simply outperform yours.

You did the exact same thing to boost your likes to over 80

Just admit the LIKE function is a joke, not scientific, nor is it even any votes?

This is just any "Social Network" and it functions the way it is programmed.

I agree the like function is of no value, let's just get rid of it?


Lenny Siegel
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 15, 2020 at 8:14 pm
Lenny Siegel, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 8:14 pm
253 people like this

These "independent" expenditures raise three issues:
1) Are they truly independent? Materials prepared by the Realtors and the Housing Justice Coalition contain statements that they were not authorized by a campaign. The Apartment Association complained that Gary Wesley's photocopies did not contain such a statement. Likewise, none of the Firefighters' materials contain such a statement.
2) As in 2014, large independent expenditures make a mockery of Mountain View's Voluntary Expenditure Limit. All nine candidates promised to spend no more than $27,000. What good does that do if other parties spend more than that?
3) What do the "independent" committees expect in return for their campaign spending?


Gary
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Oct 15, 2020 at 8:50 pm
Gary, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 8:50 pm
246 people like this

Not enough voters read the Voice to carry the day. Mountain View has some 35,000 registered voters. 80% may vote. Voting is underway. As I suggested previously, all the 4 candidates endorsed by the Voice editorial board need to do to win the 4 seats is to get the entire Voice endorsement editorial to every voter. Candidate flyers and mailers are cute - but self-serving and imprecise. The Voice editorial is an independent account many voters will appreciate. I see two main joint literate drops. Abe-Koga, Matichak and Gutierrez - the candidates endorsed by the firefighters' union (PAC) - and the 4 candidates endorsed by the Voice editorial board. The fab-4, I'll call them, did not include the editorial in their joint drops this past weekend. The election is slipping away from them.


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 16, 2020 at 7:32 am
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2020 at 7:32 am
2 people like this

[Post removed due to being off-topic]


SRB
Registered user
St. Francis Acres
on Oct 16, 2020 at 12:33 pm
SRB, St. Francis Acres
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2020 at 12:33 pm
136 people like this

"Generally speaking, she (Lisa Matichak) said she is okay with groups making independent expenditures so long as they are positive and support a candidate or a measure."

The just blasted hit piece on Sally Lieber by the California Apartment Association and California Association of Realtor is disgusting and certainly not positive.

Does Lisa Matichak continue to be "generally ok" with the behavior of these out-of-town lobbying groups?


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 16, 2020 at 2:12 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2020 at 2:12 pm
131 people like this

In response to SRB,

The reality is that JG, MAK, and LM have had BIG money used to attack the opposing candidates, as well and people on this website. This is called "Astroturfing".

These people are PAID to do this work.

I come clean to say I have done my commentary with NO COMPENSATION from any CANDIDATE, PARTY, POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE, or COMMUNITY GROUPS.

Just look at the insanity of the LIKES on this topic.

Just look at all the personal attacks engaged by those that want to discredit peoples point of view with no evidence to support them?

The reality is that this has been going on for much longer than anyone could perceive, as far back as the Nixon Administration.

There will be critics that will attack me very shortly, but the history is there.


Lenny Siegel
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2020 at 9:47 am
Lenny Siegel, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2020 at 9:47 am
134 people like this

Last night the Realtors reported spending another $7,000 on behalf of Lisa Matichak. The SVO made another $29,000 filing to oppose Sally Lieber, but it may be essentially a repeat of the earlier report about funding the hit piece aimed at Sally.


Gladys
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2020 at 12:18 pm
Gladys, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2020 at 12:18 pm
64 people like this

@Lenny Siegel,


You also have liberal Billionaires and Millionaires giving hundreds of Millions of dollars to elect Biden and a majority Democrat to the Senate. You got a problem with that as well?

If you got a problem with election laws, then lobby to get that changed.

It seems everyone is following the laws,this story points out who is getting the money.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]



Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2020 at 12:57 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2020 at 12:57 pm
88 people like this

Frank,

She is a "Astroturfer" paid to post any possible words to discredit anyone that her BOSSES target.

The term "Astroturf" means :"Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants.

It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source's financial connection.

The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word "grassroots". The implication behind the use of the term is that instead of a "true" or "natural" grassroots effort behind the activity in question, there is a "fake" or "artificial" appearance of support."

She is not disclosing her real identity, nor that she has a conflict of interest. Her Identity is defined as:

“In political science, it is defined as the process of seeking electoral victory or legislative relief for grievances by helping political actors find and mobilize a sympathetic public, and is designed to create the image of public consensus where there is none.[1][2]

Astroturfing is the use of fake grassroots efforts that primarily focus on influencing public opinion and typically are funded by corporations and governmental entities to form opinions.[3]

On the Internet, astroturfers use software to mask their identity. Sometimes one individual operates through many personas to give the impression of widespread support for their client's agenda.[4][5]

Some studies suggest astroturfing can alter public viewpoints and create enough doubt to inhibit action.[6][7]

In the first systematic study of astroturfing in the United States, Oxford Professor Philip N. Howard argued that the internet was making it much easier for powerful lobbyists and political movements to activate small groups of aggrieved citizens to have an exaggerated importance in public policy debates.[2]”

Unlike Lenny and I that are not hiding under a pseudonym, we are transparent. Gladys and her friends target their “opposition” with personal attacks and insults, and when called on it, they say THEY are threatened.


Lenny Siegel
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2020 at 1:31 pm
Lenny Siegel, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2020 at 1:31 pm
82 people like this

Today I received a second mailer, paid for by the California Apartment Association and California Association of Realtors, attacking Sally Lieber. It implies that she supports the Trump Administration’s "far-right” violations of human rights.

It is despicable and dishonest.

Where were the corporate landlords and realtors when Sally and I organized Black Lives Matter demonstrations at the corner of Castro and El Camino?

They don’t oppose Sally because of contributions to her past campaigns. They oppose her because they want to re-elect and elect Mountain View Council Members who will again appoint Rental Housing Committee members willing to undermine Mountain View’s rent control law.

Lenny


drslb
Registered user
Rengstorff Park
on Oct 17, 2020 at 4:03 pm
drslb, Rengstorff Park
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2020 at 4:03 pm
79 people like this

Silicon Valley Organization PAC is a business oriented PAC supporting local candidates that support business interests. So of course they are against Sally Lieber. What bothers me is that they can send lies and distortions through the mail and not be taken to account. They don’t discuss their real backers and issues.


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2020 at 8:52 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2020 at 8:52 pm
77 people like this

By the way, the latest mailing regarding Sally Lieber was paid for from MAJOR funding from the California Association of Realtors and the California Apartment Association.

The groups really must be frightened of having a purged City Council roster with only perhaps 2 out of 7 have any ties with them.

I really hope we get rid of them for good, and make for a model for the rest of the state.

Wouldn't it be great if only the citizens interests would actually be the foremost practices?

This was such a desperate act, especially when they had no resources to back up the claims made on it. They only resourced the California Secretary of State office, but NOT ONE DOCUMENT, they just said they READ the page on September 28,2020. Why not have any official documents to reference? They could have made a free copy and or provided a link to the original on the California Secretary of State website, but they didn't. Perhaps because I looked and couldn't find any. To me this was nothing but another stunt.

It really must be a nightmare for the CAR and the CAA now.


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