Audit Springs a Fine on Roger Aceves and a $12,000 Bonus

Goleta Council and Mayor Campaign-Contribution Rundown

In 2014, Roger Aceves (in blue) had run for 2nd District county supervisor but fell foul of the Fair Political Practices Commission. It also found $12,000 he didn't know he had.
Photo Credit: Paul Wellman (file)
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An audit by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is less likely to giveth than to taketh away, but Roger Aceves finds it did a bit of both. Aceves was fined $7,500 earlier in the summer for violating a reporting requirement during his race for Santa Barbara County's 2nd Supervisor District in 2014, a penalty disclosed among the campaign finance papers filed for Goleta's November election.

The Goleta city councilmember was supposed to tell donors who gave $5,000 or more that they had to report it, he recounted, but Aceves said his campaign "couldn't prove that they had" to the auditors. He raised more than $450,000 in that race, he said. However, while lodging the hefty fine, the auditors also found a Paypal account that Aceves didn't know he had. "Every single penny was accounted for," he said of the audit. "On top of that, they found $12,000."

Aceves is currently the only incumbent in a City Council race that may be over before it starts. Two seats are open in Goleta, and two candidates have filed to fill them: Aceves and newcomer James Kyriaco.

The second council seat about to be vacant belongs to councilmembers Paula Perotte and Michael Bennett. They are both running to be the city's first fully elected mayor, who will occupy the council's fifth seat. The filing period for council and mayor ends at noon on Friday, said Valerie Kushnerov, city spokesperson, though Aceves questioned whether the second council seat, lacking an incumbent, pushes the deadline to next Wednesday.

This time around, Aceves has raised about $30,000 in the council race, about half already on hand from his previous contests. Among his biggest donors are the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, which gave $4,000; the Towbes Group $2,500; and Fairview Carwash $3,000. Uniquely, Aceves gave nearly $4,000 from his campaign funds as a "civic donation" to nonprofits, which ranged from Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter to Friends of Goleta Valley Library. Some were outright donations, he explained; for others, he paid for tickets to an event rather than accept them as a campaign donation that had to be reported.

Previously a campaign manager at the county level, James Kyriaco is well-known in Democratic Party circles, but this is his first run for election. He's a member of Goleta's Public Engagement Commission (PEC), which was set up to encourage more participation in elections. Kyriaco lives in Old Town, an area targeted by the District Election Committee, which threatened to sue the city in order to get district elections and asked the city to set up the PEC. Though the City Council seats are so far uncontested, like Aceves, Kyriaco has assembled a war chest of more than $30,000. His donors in the hundreds-of-dollars range are a who's who of Santa Barbara's Democratic Party — from Susan Rose to Monique Limón. Among his biggest donors are Richard Whited, who gave $4,000; Michael Robles $3,000; and the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 114 PAC $2,500.

Two local developers, Mark Linehan and the Towbes Group, have each banked on the sure bet. Linehan has given both Aceves and Kyriaco $1,000 and the late Michael Towbes's development company gave Aceves $2,500 and Kyriaco $500. Neither contributed to the mayoral candidates.

The mayor's position had rotated among the councilmembers previously. Perotte, who has been on the council since 2010, is the current mayor, voted in by her peers for an unexpected second year in a row. Bennett, a councilmember since 2008, has also held the mayor's seat twice before.

Bennett received the single largest contribution among all the candidates from his brethren at the Santa Barbara County Firefighters Government PAC. Bennett is a former county battalion chief, and the PAC gave him $10,000. He's raised $16,000 altogether, $5,000 of it a loan to his campaign. In her race for mayor, Perotte has raised about $12,000, about half coming from her previous campaigns and $1,000 contributions from Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County, Lee Heller, Cecilia Brown, and Supervisor Janet Wolf's campaign.

As always, the election is on the first Tuesday in November, the 6th this year.

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