Who funded a last-minute robo-call slamming Santa Rosa City Councilman Gary Wysocky?
Two weeks after the election, the person or group behind the calls remains a mystery.
That's because the name of the group that said it paid for the calls, the “Anybody But Wysocky Committee,” hasn't filed any documentation required under state or city campaign finance laws.
The episode is the latest example of how the increasing use of automated telephone calls in local political races is creating opportunities for negative messages to be disseminated cheaply, anonymously and perhaps in violation of existing campaign finance laws.
“I think it actually does make a difference and the public deserves to know who is generating those calls,” said Stephen Gale, head of the Sonoma County Democratic Party.
State law requires independent expenditure committees raising $1,000 or more for local races to report their donors and activities and to the Santa Rosa City Clerk. City campaign finance laws are even stricter, requiring any committee spending more than $500 to file detailed reports with the clerk, in some cases within 24 hours of the expenditure.
The laws are designed to combat corruption by ensuring transparency in the political process. But Santa Rosa City Clerk Terri Griffin says her office has received no such disclosures from an “Anybody But Wysocky Committee.”
That tells Wysocky, who came in fourth and will retain his City Council seat, that whoever paid for the calls not only wanted to hurt him politically, but sought to do so anonymously.
“Someone is violating the law,” Wysocky said this week.
The situation is reminiscent of the recent calls against Cotati-Rohnert Park school board member Karyn Pulley.
Veteran Santa Rosa political consultant Herb Williams arranged those calls for a client known only as Parents for Better Schools. Because they cost less than $1,000, Williams said his client has no obligation to report their identity or donors.