Big Money May Have Influenced City-Council Race

Big Money May Have Influenced City-Council Race

By Richard Colman

Relatively huge amounts of money were spent by the winners of Orinda’s city-council race.

The winners, Darlene Gee and Inga Miller, spent, according to September 2016 and October 2016 reports released by the Orinda City Clerk’s office, more than twice as much as their opponents:  Bruce London and Linda Delehunt.

Total candidate spending between the beginning Jan. 1, 2016, to Oct. 22, 2016, was $37,965,

In percentage terms, 69 percent of the total city-council monetary contributions went to Miller and Gee.  For London and Delehunt, the percentage was 31 percent.

Five entities received campaign contributions.  They and the dollar amounts received by each entity are below.



Orindans for a Better Downtown, Gee and Miller for Orinda City Council 2016 $5,969
(2) Inga Miller $11,184
(3) Darlene Lee $8,928
  TOTAL $26,121 (69%)
(4) Bruce London $8,139
(5) Linda Delehunt $3,705
TOTAL $11,844 (31%)

Technically, London and Delehunt did not run as a team.  But their positions on major issues were very similar.

The vote totals, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting, were as follows for the November 8, 2016, election:

Inga Miller 3,911 votes 34.1%
Darlene Gee 3,490 votes 30.4%
Bruce London 2,388 votes 20.8%
Linda Delehunt 1,691 votes 14.7%

A review of Gee’s campaign contributions reveals a potential conflict of interest.  Gee is a vice president of the HNTB Corporation, an engineering and construction firm.

An examination of HNTB’s website shows that the company has done work for BART.

In an Oct. 19, 2016, letter to the editor of the Lamorinda Weekly, Gee wrote:  “None of my campaign contributions are from development interests.”

On Sept. 6, 2016, the HNTB Holdings PAC (political action committee) in Kansas City, Missouri, gave Gee’s campaign $1,000.

From her fellow HNTB employees, Ms. Gee received seven contributions.  Six of the seven contributions came from HNTB employees who live outside of Orinda.  Here are the names, locations, and dollar amounts donated by these seven employees:  Anthony Lee (Cranford, NJ, $99); Dina Potter (Piedmont, CA, $500); Joshua Englander (Sherman Oaks, CA, $100); Shannon Gaffney (Moraga, CA, $100); Jeff Watson (Novato, CA $100); Maureen Hayes (Ladera Ranch, CA, $100) and Darrell Vice (Orinda, CA, $250).

Gee also received $200 from Grace Crunican of Alameda, CA.  Crunican is the general manager of BART.

According to well informed sources, a complaint about Gee has been filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

According to FPPC’s website;  “Public service is a public trust, requiring officials and employees to place loyalty to the citizens, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain. Following ethical guidelines and eliminating any improprieties, or even the appearance of potential corruption, is imperative to safeguarding the public’s trust in government. To help accomplish this goal, laws exist to aid public officials in avoiding conflicts between an official’s public duties and the official’s personal interests.”

In the Nov. 8, 2016, election, Gee supported Measure X.  The measure, which voters defeated, would have authorized, for transportation purposes, a half-cent increase in the sales tax in Contra Costa County.   HNTB Holdings of Kansas City, Missouri, contributed $20,000 to the Yes on Measure X campaign.  Some of the Measure X money world have gone to BART.

Measure X, which needed a 67 percent vote to pass, received 62.5 percent of the total vote.  Thus, the measure failed.

A review of Miller’s campaign contributions shows that much of her money came from Miller herself.   She also received contributions from politically prominent Orindans.

According to the city clerk’s reports, no money from outside Orinda went to London or Delehunt.

Disclosure:  This reporter contributed funds to Bruce London’s campaign.

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