The Strange Relationships Between Contributors, Elk Grove City Council Members

April 11, 2016 |

In one of the most widely cited quotes on politics and money, the late Assembly Speaker and California political heavyweight Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh famously said that "Money is the mothers milk of politics."

While Unruh's quote has proven to be prophetic in light of billions of corporate dollars flowing into Super PAC's and independent expenditure committees in the post-Citizens United era, there is another quote from the Big Daddy that elected officials can hang their hats on in this day and age. Unruh said of Assembly Members and their relationship with lobbyist that "If you can't eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women, take their money and then vote against them you've got no business being up here."   

Indeed, while people tie the influence of monetary contributions to elected officials as determining factors in how legislative votes are cast, if you ask any self-respecting elected official you'll get a similar, if not as colorful response. Regardless of voting behaviors that show otherwise, politicians will tell you with a stone-cold stoicism that in no way do campaign contributions influences how they vote. 

With this in mind, recently a member of the 2012 Elk Grove City Council related an experience with a contributor they had in 2012. The 2012 council member, who asked not to be named, said the contributor was business owner Gil Moore.

At the time, Moore was in the process of seeking changes to Elk Grove's billboard ordinance, as well as a rezone to accommodate the establishment of a McDonald's at his proposed gas station and fast food outlet on Sheldon Road and East Stockton Boulevard. 

The referenced emails Elk Grove News came in possession of started with correspondence from attorney Jacqueline Moore (no relation) to Gil Moore dated June 29, 2012. Attorney Moore wrote "I read the online news about the meeting but it was not clear what action council took. Did [redacted] flip flop on you? That's what it looks like from the news." 

On June 29, EGN reported that "In a discussion that saw several people speak for and against a proposed change to the city's billboard ordinance, the Elk Grove City Council gave staff muddled instructions to come back with a report on possible modifications to city's sign ordinance that would permit offsite billboards."

Following that meeting, Moore sent an email on July 4, 2012, that included several passages that the council member said raised concern. One passage read "You say one thing to my face and you said another thing at the council." 

The council member pointed to another passage where they felt they were being, in the council members words, "intimidated." That passage read "I've invested a lot of money in you [first name] because I believed in your integrity and character. I showed you my project in its entirety and the only criticism was McDonald's You supported my project when I presented it. What happened to the [gender identity] I believed in?"

The council member emphasized that they felt as if they were being intimidated and that because they had accepted the contributions, they were being pressured to vote for the project exclusive of its merits. 

Like other elected officials, this council member said that even though they accept contributions from applicants who have projects being considered by the city council, they claim to cast votes solely on their merits. 

During the period from July 1, through December 31, 2011, Moore gave $5,000 to the Council Member Gary Davis $5,000, and $1,000 to Council member Pat Hume. In the first six months of 2012, Moore donated $2,500 each to council members Gary Davis and Steve Detrick; $1,000 to Jim Cooper; and no contributions to Pat Hume or Sophia Scherman. 

In response to the council members intimidation claim, Moore said that it was untrue and that "I have never asked for a favor...nor have I ever asked anyone to vote on my behalf. There is only one person on the city council that lies, and has manipulated others, and has threatened citizens that do not support him and that is [name withheld.]"

Moore also said that "No council member was ever intimidated by me, since I have never asked or requested anything from anyone that was not in the best interest for the City and equally, the community. You may ask every other Council Member, and they will concur." Furthermore, Moore claimed this person was the "only one council member[who] ever asked me for money."  

In spite of the dispute between the council member and Moore and a host of other controversies surrounding this project, the city council ultimately loosened the billboard ordinance and approved the rezone by unanimous votes. Subsequent to that, Moore successfully built a billboard, and opened his business which includes a McDonald's in December, 2015.

As is typical in these type of cases, the aggrieved party is not the politicians or the donors - it is constituents. Until campaign financing limits are established, even if it is only on a local basis to start, the politicians will continue to eat the contributors food, drink their booze, screw their women, and take their money. Meanwhile the contributors will continue to feed the beast as the regular person's mistrust of the public institutions that are supposed to be looking out for their interests will continue. That is the real danger. 



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Steve L said...

Well, there you have it. In writing, no less.
Now do you think it's time to replace those do-gooders on the dais?

Time for new blood all the way around.

Time to keep out local politicians honest, or at least as honest as we can.

No real surprise here, just confirmation.

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

As Steve L said above, this merely acts as a confirmation of how business is conducted in The Grove. I suspect the skulduggery that goes on between the council members would remind us of kids in Junior High School. On second thought, I should not insult Junior High Students - their brains have not yet reached maturity. What excuse do our council members have?

Ace of Spades said...

I want to be politically correct and not be cynical. Our local politicians deal from the top of the deck and the cards are not marked. There are no shills sitting in, and the House has plenty of chips to make good on our bets. Those who sit at the table are honorable and have just as much chance of losing as Joe Sixpak. Jokers are wild.

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