Team Oceanside is a political action committee that was formed last September to support the re-election of Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood along with Councilmember Esther Sanchez. Also supported by Team Oceanside is political newcomer Dana Corso, whose voting record was recently called into question, as reported by the North County Times.
Wood, Sanchez and Corso are running for election as a slate, commonly referred to as “Team Oceanside.” California election law allows general purpose committees, such as Team Oceanside, to support candidates for public office. Yet those same laws prohibit these types of committees from coordinating that support directly with the candidates.
Also, California’s money laundering statute (Penal Code §186.10(a)) prohibits the use of monetary instruments with the intent to promote, manage, establish, carry on, or facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, or carrying on of any criminal activity.
Campaign financial disclosures filed with the Oceanside City Clerk identify Team Oceanside’s treasurer as Christopher Wilson, who is supporting Wood, Sanchez and Corso for election. Serious questions are being raised about Team Oceanside’s campaign activities and those of its founder, with both appearing to have run afoul of California laws. As recently reported by the U-T San Diego, Wilson previously worked on the campaign of Councilmember Sanchez. Evidence indicates he is now directly coordinating campaign activities between Team Oceanside and the three candidates.
Team Oceanside is also engaged in what clearly appears to be money laundering activities by accepting illegal contributions from Sanchez and Wood and then using the funds to benefit their respective campaigns, in so doing concealing the true identity of individual donors.
The same financial disclosure reports show Team Oceanside paying $3,000 to IMS for campaign signs and over $2,500 to Uribe Printing for campaign door-hangers, all supporting the election of Wood, Sanchez and Corso. At least some of these materials appear to have been used directly by the candidates in support of their own efforts.
These independent expenditures made by the Team Oceanside committee are by law required to be just that — independent and not coordinated with the campaigns they are supporting.
Aside from independent general purpose campaign committees noted above, candidates typically do have their own individual campaign committees, which are rightfully within their respective control. Yet, again, by law such a candidate controlled committee cannot coordinate with the separate general purpose committee established to support the same candidate.
Financial disclosures show that the candidate controlled committees Friends of Esther Sanchez for Oceanside City Council and Committee to Re-Elect Mayor Jim Wood both made contributions to Team Oceanside for the purchase of campaign materials. The purchase of campaign materials by Team Oceanside itself is not an issue, but the reports filed by the various committees show that Team Oceanside has coordinated those campaign activities with all three candidates, which is illegal.
Photographs of Oceanside City Councilmember Sanchez and Team Oceanside Treasurer Wilson have surfaced showing them actively coordinating activities between Team Oceanside and each of the candidates. On October 18, 2012, the three candidates — Sanchez, Wood, Corso — and Wilson were present at Main Street Oceanside’s Sunset Market. Wilson (pictured above) is observed in photographs working at a campaign booth for Mayor Wood while Sanchez and Corso were observed distributing campaign materials that were produced and paid for by Team Oceanside.
Incriminating evidence shows that Team Oceanside has been operating out of the campaign headquarters of Mayor Wood and Councilmember Sanchez, which is a significant violation of campaign finance and election law. On October 12, 2012, a social media post on the Facebook page of Team Oceanside announced, “We got more Team O signs today! They’re in both the Mayor’s office and Esther’s office.”
California campaign finance laws prohibit the coordination of activities between political action committees and candidate controlled committees, like those of Wood, Sanchez and Corso, due to contribution limits being circumvented by such activities. The coordination of campaign activities also conceals the true identity of individuals who have contributed money, thus preventing the required transparency in campaign finance reportings available to the public.
It further appears that the designation of Team Oceanside as a general purpose committee by its treasurer, Wilson, is also unlawful, as all of the related expenditures are solely in support of Wood, Sanchez and Corso. Per state law, “If more than 70 percent of a committee’s contributions and expenditures … are on a single candidate, single measure, a group of specific candidates in the same local election … the committee is designated as a primarily formed committee rather than a general purpose committee.” As well, “For purposes of determining whether the committee is general purpose or a primarily formed committee, the treasurer must count contributions and expenditures made to support or oppose candidates.”
A count of Team Oceanside’s contributions and expenditures in its filed reports shows what clearly appears to be 100 percent of the funds in support of the three candidates noted.
Councilmember Sanchez is an attorney by profession and a past-president of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers’ Association. Mayor Wood is an experienced politician with a background in law enforcement. Both Sanchez and Wood have backgrounds and experience in dealing with legal issues; however, what clearly appears to be violations of campaign finance and money laundering laws may have some people questioning their integrity and ability to run honorable campaigns. As for Ms. Corso, her inexperience with political matters earns her the benefit of the doubt as to intentionally trying to circumvent campaign finance laws.
Mayor Wood is running for re-election against challenger Jerry Kern, currently a member of the Oceanside City Council. Councilmember Sanchez and new candidate Corso are running for election to the city council. Also running for the council are Councilmember Jack Feller and Chip Dykes, a past-chairman of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the San Diego County Veteran’s Advisory Council.
# # #
Derrick W Roach is a licensed private investigator that serves in a volunteer capacity as secretary of the Republican Party of San Diego County. He is also chairman of the RPSDC’s Election Integrity Committee and the official nominee for State Assembly to represent District 80. Follow Roach on Twitter and Facebook.
Views expressed on SD Rostra are the opinion of each of the individual authors, who are solely responsible for the content. The opinions expressed may not necessarily be shared by other site authors, guest columnists or administrators.