Campaign finance disclosure laws exist so voters can find out who is bankrolling candidates and what special interests are backing them.
I am very concerned that Nina Johnson’s campaign failed to file more than a dozen legally required campaign disclosure reports. Up until last week, with ballots being mailed in days, voters and the media had no idea who is supporting her. Many of these reports were more than a month late.
Now that we know who is backing Johnson, the news is not good.
Numerous major donations come from corporate special interests with a long history of supporting conservative campaigns locally, like the one last November that tried to put conservative majorities on local school boards. These same donors have a long history of opposing affordable housing and renters’ rights.
Given the fact that Nina Johnson is running in a City Council district in which 80 percent of the residents are renters, a cynic might understand why she’d want to hide her donors from public review. It is a sad day when candidates can just flagrantly ignore the law. Have we learned nothing from Trump? Given the political upheaval and undermining of democracy over the past five years, one might expect candidates for local office to stand up for fair open elections.
Voters have been deprived of full information in making their decisions. We should all expect better from candidates for local office. —Christian Alonso, S.B.
Editor’s Note: We asked District 6 candidate Nina Johnson for a reply:
The misunderstanding on the filing requirement is one that I take full responsibility for. We filed the larger campaign statement on Saturday and the remaining statements were uploaded; we were in compliance by Monday. All information has been fully disclosed and available online for several days for the public to view. Our campaign team is focused on real crises — working on solutions for homelessness, the high cost of housing, and business recovery.
My supporters are the people of Santa Barbara, not a political party, not corporations. Our campaign is made up of grassroots volunteers who believe in me and the work I have done with them over the past 25 years. They believe in our mission of restoring more inclusive, collaborative community conversations and rebuilding trust in local government.
I’m proud of the large number of individual contributions received from a broad range of community supporters, small businesses, and downtown stakeholders who represent a wide spectrum of views. This is key to moving our community dialogue forward on longstanding challenges.
Unlike Meagan Harmon who has received large sums from unions and other elected officials, we have taken a different approach, not accepting any donations from unions or politicians. —Nina Johnson