Campaign committee treasurer admits numerous violations during contentious Richmond election in 2012
By Robert Rogers
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 07/12/2013 12:30:14 PM PDT
Updated: 07/12/2013 01:03:28 PM PDT
Richmond City Council Member Corky Booz. (Kristopher Skinner/Staff) (KRISTOPHER SKINNER)
RICHMOND -- The city has reached a settlement agreement with the treasurer of a local campaign committee that violated several state and local campaign laws during the November local elections.
Dwight Adams, treasurer of the Richmond One campaign committee, in late June signed an agreement acknowledging the violations and agreeing to pay a $750 fine and not serve as a treasurer of any local campaign committees until he completes a training course.
The penalties stem from the distribution of about 21,000 mailers attacking council incumbent Tom Butt three days before the November election. The mailers violated numerous campaign laws, according to the city's complaint, including failure to disclose the funders,
Richmond City Council members Corky Booze, left, shares a laugh with Tom Butt before swearing-in ceremonies on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. (Dean Coppola/Staff) (Dean Coppola)
amounts and identities, and by providing inaccurate information later to the city clerk. Butt easily won re-election.
A lawsuit against the committee itself is still pending. The committee has until July 29 to respond formally to the complaint, according to attorney Randy Riddle, who was hired by the city to prosecute the case.
"In the meantime, our efforts to gather additional relevant information continue," Riddle wrote in an email to city officials.
Adams, a Richmond resident, could not be reached for comment.
Butt said he complained to city officials after the mailer appeared but has no link to the ongoing investigation.
Butt said Adams and the group, which reported more than $5,000 in fundraising, are a front group for Councilman Corky Boozé.
"It's all just a straw man for Corky," Butt said. "He masterminded this thing and went around and rounded up the donors."
Butt said he has no proof to back his allegations but said he expected Adams to "roll over" on Boozé rather than defend the lawsuit pending against the committee.
Boozé called the investigation "a waste of taxpayer dollars" and accused Butt of "defaming" him without proof. Boozé declined to deny any involvement with the development or fundraising for the mailer.
"Is this really city business; this is embarrassing?" Boozé said. "Tom ought to be more concerned with refuting what was in the mailers, which was true, than trying to discredit me. He just tries to get at Corky because Corky doesn't do what Tom wants."
The mailer made a series of complaints about Butt's performance on the council, many of which Boozé has lodged during public meetings. Among the charges were that Butt squelched a proposed public fishing pier at Point Molate, "voted to tear down" the southside's beloved Martin Luther King Recreation Center and that he "accused five African-American elected officials of corruption and brought the FBI to Richmond for an investigation ..."
"He did call the FBI on all the African-American council people," Boozé said Thursday. "No doubt about it."
Butt said the mailer was "full of lies."
"I had nothing to do with initiating the (FBI) investigation," Butt said.
The votes on the fishing pier and the recreation center, which had suffered extensive water damage, were recommended by city staff and passed by a council majority.
The mailers and the legal action are just the latest episode in the ongoing feud between Butt and Boozé, former friends and two of the strongest personalities on a divided City Council.
City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller said Friday that he did not know the cost of the legal action, which was contracted to Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP, a San Francisco-based firm.
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/roberthrogers.