The very same people sponsoring a November ballot measure to hire 270 more Oakland cops are spending tens of thousands of dollars in the final days of the campaign trying to elect city council at-large candidate Kerry Hamill. In addition, Hamill appears to be coordinating with the supposedly independent political group supporting her campaign in violation of California law.
The group, Oakland Jobs PAC, has spent at least $49,513 on two glossy mailers in support of Hamill. It is illegal under state campaign finance law for an independent committee, like Oakland Jobs PAC, to coordinate with a political candidate. Hamill, a longtime Oakland school board member and former chief of staff to state Senate boss Don Perata, has denied having anything to do with at least one of the mailers, but both of them contain personal letters signed by her. It’s unclear where Oakland Jobs PAC would have obtained the signed letters to use in its mailers without Hamill’s help or that of her campaign.
Oakland Jobs PAC is headquartered in the very same downtown Oakland office run by Gregory McConnell and the Better Housing Coalition, a group of prominent East Bay developers, including Signature Properties, the developers of Oak to Ninth, a planned massive condo project on the city’s waterfront. The Better Housing Coalition has staunchly opposed an effort to pass an inclusionary zoning law designed to add more affordable housing in Oakland. McConnell also uses the office as the headquarters for his campaign to boost the number of cops in the Oakland police force from 803 to 1075.
It’s unclear why the cops’ measure supporters are backing Hamill, because she has not publicly endorsed the November ballot initiative. However, in one of her own campaign mailers, she appeared to support the cops’ measure, because the mailer included a tear off postcard that asks people interested in obtaining a copy of “the petition to help keep neighborhoods in Oakland safe” to fill out the card and send it to her campaign headquarters. Last week, McConnell began sending the petitions to residents throughout the city.
In addition, it’s also unclear exactly who is financing the Oakland Jobs PAC mailers on Hamill’s behalf. According to new campaign finance statements filed with the city clerk’s office, the PAC’s two largest donors are shadowy groups themselves. One is called “55 Fairmont LLC,” which donated $10,000 and the other is “1200 Lakeshore,” which contributed $7,500.
Neither Hamill nor McConnell immediately returned phone calls, seeking comment for this story. Neither did Mill Valley attorney Sean Welch, who is listed as Oakland Jobs PAC’s treasurer. Welch also works for Signature Properties. He defended the developer in a lawsuit over a campaign to put the Oak to Ninth project on the ballot.
The two Oakland Job PAC mailers bring the total number of last-minute mailers sent on behalf of Hamill to four. As the Express has reported, a Sacramento group with close ties to Perata has spent more than $34,000 in the past week on glossy mailers attempting to get Hamill elected. Both of those mailers also included a signed letter from Hamill in apparent violation of state law.