Friday, September 25, 2009

Stranger From Texas Spends A Bundle

I dare say, never have we known so little about someone who has given so much.

So much money that is.

Texas housing developer Randall Van Wolfswinkel has given over a quarter of a million dollars to support candidates and a ballot measure in the upcoming November 3rd Santa Barbara City Election.

If I knew where to find Van Wolfswinkel I'd ask him two questions; Why are you throwing so much money around and where were you when I ran for judge back in 1996?

Of course, I've never met the man, don't know anyone who has, so you won't find me holding my breath waiting for any answers.

The most recent financial disclosure statements filed by committees and candidates show that Van Wolfswinkel has contributed a total of $266,597 since January 1 of this year.

The bulk of that money, $243,697 to be exact, went to Preserve Our Santa Barbara, and $200,000 of that amount was given within the two week period of September 4th and 18th of this year.

And no, he's not the only contributor to Preserve Our Santa Barbara. Sandy Wallace, who lists her address as Montecito, and her occupation as "homemaker" gave $200. The remainder of the $243,897.00 the group reported receiving all came from Van Wolfswinkel.

(And what am I doing calling Preserve Santa Barbara a "group?" With two contributors, I'd say they're more like a pas de deux.)

"Preserve Our Santa Barbara" lists an address in downtown Los Angeles as the location of its headquarters. I guess that's not why they're not called "Reduce the Santa Barbara Commercial Vacancy Rate." But I digress.

Van Wolfswinkel gave $5,000 to the campaign of city council candidate Cathie McCammon and $9,900.00 to the Save El Pueblo Viejo Committee, the group that organized to support Measure B, the building height limitation initiative.

In May of this year Van Wolfswinkel gave $3,000 to Frank Hotchkiss and $5,000 to Michael Self, who also are candidates for city council.

You may be surprised to learn that Van Wolfswinkel has not given any money to mayoral candidate Dale Francisco.

That's not to say that Francisco hasn't been the beneficiary of Van Wolfswinkel's free spending. Francisco has been prominently featured along with McCammon, Hotchkiss and Self in mailings and TV ads that Preserve Our Santa Barbara has been running touting the quartet as candidates who will "preserve our Santa Barbara." And Preserve Our Santa Barbara did report making an independent expenditure on Francisco's behalf for a radio ad which is listed in the amount of $194.00. Heck, that's tip jar change to a guy like Van Wolfswinkel. Texas tip jar change.

I doubt that they keep records on this, but I wouldn't be surprised if the amount he's given sets a record for most money given by a nonresident of the city where the election is taking place.

So you may be wondering, why is "Tex" contributing so much money to influence an election that he can't even vote in?

I don't have an answer for you, but I do know this:

America's got talent, baby got backand anyone who spends that much money on an election, expects to get something in return for it.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and