OCEAN AVENUE — One of the council members not up for re-election is heading a campaign in support of an incumbent and a challenger.
Mayor Pro Tempore Terry O’Day is listed as the principal officer on an independent expenditures political action committee (PAC) called Responsible Leadership for a Better Santa Monica, which has received $25,000 donations from two separate local hotel-backers.
O’Day told the Daily Press that the PAC will support Mayor Pam O’Connor and former Planning Commissioner Frank Gruber.
“It’s important to get the best candidates elected to council,” O’Day said, in response to a question about potential political repercussions. “If backlash were a concern, then I wouldn’t be in politics. I believe in doing what’s right and deal with the politics later.”
Independent expenditures are made without any candidate involvement. These committees are not subject to the strict contribution limits placed on candidates. Members of the PAC can spend money in support of the candidates but they can’t collude with them in any way.
On Oct. 5, The Edward Thomas Management Company, which owns Shutters on the Beach Hotel and Hotel Casa del Mar, gave $25,000 to the group.
In 2012, City Council approved the sale of the City Hall-owned vacant beach lot at 1920 Ocean Way to the Edward Thomas Management Company for $13 million. Only then-Councilmember Bobby Shriver voted against the sale. Former Mayor Michael Feinstein spoke against the sale during the public input portion of that meeting.
Ocean Avenue LCC, which seeks to rebuild the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, replacing the current 10-story edifice with — according to the most recently released designs — a 21-story tower, 280 hotel rooms, 120 luxury condominiums, and 40 affordable housing units, gave another $25,000 to O’Day’s campaign on Thursday, according to campaign disclosure statements.
The group had raised and spent just over $9,000 as of Sept. 30. They spent more than $2,000 on campaign literature, according campaign disclosure statements. Another $1,200 was spent with Our Voice Latino Voter Guide on a slate mailer.
The Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC), which announced early support for Councilmember Kevin McKeown and planning commissioners Richard McKinnon and Sue Himmelrich, has raised around $30,000 for its PAC, according to a recent campaign disclosure statement.
The group has vocally opposed several recent developments in the city and they’ve spent more than $9,000 on mailers that oppose O’Connor.
The PAC got a $10,000 contribution from Mark Kreher, a vocal advocate of the Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT) in 2008. Additionally, the PAC got a $12,500 contribution from SMCLC itself.
“That sum is the remainder of the money SMCLC raised from a couple of dozen people for our Hines Bergamot legal fees and lawsuit once the lawsuit settled,” said Diana Gordon, an SMCLC Steering Committee member. “We offered each contributor to the lawsuit a net pro rata refund out of the remaining funds after the settlement, but they all chose not to take it. SMCLC has no membership fees and we don’t take money from developers.”