Bill Baber is a lobbyist for Associated Contractors and Builders, or ABC, San Diego Chapter. He is currently best known in Oceanside for his lobbyist role in cutting and pasting together the Oceanside charter ballot measure, Proposition K, with Councilman Jack Feller and without resident input.
ABC really wants the provisions contained in Proposition K approved since they mostly just benefit their contractor and builder membership. How do I know? Not only did Baber cut and paste what ABC wanted into the charter, but ABC lobbyist Baber established and is now the treasurer of two political action committees, or PACs, to promote his charter language and an ABC approved council candidate. Five thousand dollars was donated immediately by ABC to the Yes on K PAC.
On May 6, I filed complaints for violation of campaign disclosure rules to the state Fair Political Practices Commission against ABC lobbyist Bill Baber and Oceanside City Treasurer Gary Felien, who was the principle officer listed on the PACs. The primary campaign disclosure violations in my complaints pertained to the Yes on K committee.
Everyone in Oceanside has received one or two pieces of campaign literature from the Yes on K PAC. Has anyone seen Yes on K sponsored by ABC San Diego on any literature? No, because Bill Baber has worked hard to hide the ABC lobbyist connection so the literature would look like it came from an Oceanside community group rather than a lobbyist group. That hiding is illegal. Once ABC donated the $5,000, ABC became the sponsor of Yes on K and under campaign rules should have included their name on the PAC and thus all campaign literature and other references to Yes on K. Otherwise how will voters know that promoters of Proposition K are promoting it because of their potential financial benefits from voter approval?
Not only was Baber embarrassed to put ABC’s name on Yes on K in violation of state campaign law, but he strangely later amended his state campaign disclosure by trying to remove a sponsorship by ABC that he had never even reported to the state or used for the PAC name. How do you take off something you had never put on? Ask Bill Baber.
The ABC lobbyist group is still the sponsor of the Yes on K political action committee because Baber is being paid by ABC and removed Gary Felien’s name as a principle officer for unknown reasons in that same amended state filing.
Additional breaches of campaign disclosure laws are included in complaints submitted to the FPPC which investigates the complaints. Both Baber and Felien were being investigated by the FPPC last year on other campaign charges related to independent expenditures and slate mailers. Only April Boling, committee treasurer, took the fall in that investigation it was recently revealed. Felien and Baber got off the hook that time.
Baber’s cavalier attitude toward legal disclosure and disregard of the voter’s legal right to information also applies to his Oceanside Lobbyist Registration filings which are required by Oceanside ordinance. Did I forget to mention Baber is an attorney? Maybe that explains why Baber has a real problem filing his lobbyist disclosures on time. Guess what? He doesn’t even get his hand slapped for that. What if “commoners” like you or I filed something late with the city of Oceanside consistently? Are you laughing or crying thinking about it? He also failed to report a campaign donation when required and when it was still information relevant to an ongoing election. Instead he amended a later filing when the election was over and the information no longer mattered. Baber failed to report the pay he was getting as a lobbyist (in-kind donation) during the entire time he was drafting Proposition K for Councilman Feller. A complaint related to Baber’s lobbyist disclosure violations was submitted to Oceanside City Attorney Mullen who stated in an e-mail that the complaint had been forwarded to the Oceanside Police Department for investigation as requested.
If you have the same problems I have with big boy “politics as usual” and lobbyist influence, vote a resounding no on Proposition K on June 8. The proposed charter financially benefits lobbying group ABC, not Oceanside.
Lizbeth Altman, an Oceanside resident, is tired of “politics as usual.”
Filed Under: Community Commentary