CITYWIDE — Mayor Pam O’Connor returned a slew of $325 contributions from developers to whom she’d previously conferred a benefit but, according to the most recent campaign disclosure statements, she accepted more from owners of a different development company she’d voted to help.
O’Connor said the second round of illegal contributions were already returned to the developers. She provided the Daily Press with an e-mailed response from her treasurer who acknowledged that on Oct. 17, the day before the most recent filing deadline, O’Connor requested that the cash be returned.
The checks were refunded and sent to the contributors on Oct. 20, the treasurer said. Still, the funds from owners of the Edward Thomas Company, show up on O’Connor’s most recent campaign disclosure statement.
Edward Thomas owns Hotel Casa del Mar and Shutters Hotel on Ocean Avenue.
In 2012, City Council, with a “yes” from O’Connor, approved the sale of the City Hall-owned vacant beach lot at 1920 Ocean Way to the Edward Thomas Management Company for $13 million.
On Oct. 5, according to the disclosure statements, O’Connor accepted batch contributions from individuals associated with Edward Thomas, including partner Thomas Slatkin, owner Edward Slatkin, and President Timothy Dubois. Each gave $325.
“If they are listed the treasurer made the mistake in not refunding in a timely manner,” O’Connor said in an e-mail.
Her treasurer is David Gould.
A part of Santa Monica’s Municipal Code called the Oaks initiative states that city officials cannot accept campaign contributions from individuals to whom they’ve previously conferred a benefit.
The same disclosure statement shows that O’Connor returned cash that she’d previously accepted from executives at Century West Partners.
In June of 2013, O’Connor voted to approve a housing project backed by Century West Partners, according to council minutes.
“We will look at the names on the Oaks initiative log to see if these folks are listed,” O’Connor told the Daily Press at the time. “Not necessarily all people affiliated with a project are barred from donating.”
Both Slatkins, of Edward Thomas, are on that list.
O’Connor is currently under fire for similar practices in previous campaigns. She acknowledged that she’d made some mistakes but says that the amount of money she accepted – just over $4,000 – is not significant enough to influence her voting. The Santa Monica Transparency Project disagrees and has filed a complaint with City Hall. The original complaint has been sent to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for review.
With the news of the Edward Thomas contributions, the ones O’Connor said have been returned, the Transparency Project has filed new allegations against the mayor.
“Pam O’Connor is defiant in her refusal to follow the Oaks Initiative. Even after the Transparency Project filed two dozen complaints against her for illegally accepting donations from major developers in violation of Santa Monica law, she continues to illegally accept these donations,” Transparency Project Chair Mary Marlow said in a release. “She thinks because of her position there will be no consequences.”