Cameron Smyth had been mayor of Santa Clarita for just over two hours back on Dec. 13 when, during the public comments portion of the City Council meeting he was chairing, a citizen rose up to speak.
“I pulled your (campaign-finance) papers, and you can’t track where your money is coming from, because you transferred it over from another account,’’ said Cam Noltemeyer, a speaker at virtually every council meeting.
A clearly irritated Smyth jumped in and said, “you cannot track where it comes (from) — it doesn’t mean it can’t be tracked. Don’t put that on me. That’s all public … just because you can’t read (the documents with expertise) … ’’
At which point Noltemeyer interrupted with, “I’m just saying … I cannot tell you, at this moment, where that money came from and who supplied it. So I don’t know who’s really supporting you with that money.’’
So what’s going on here?
A Signal investigation into Smyth’s campaign finance documents for the City Council seat he won in November confirms what the mayor said forcefully, if not especially politely, to Noltemeyer that night:
Contributors to his council campaign – as well as specifics about money that was legally rolled over to his council campaign from the aborted Cameron Smyth for Senate 2016 committee – are, in fact, detailed in the paperwork Smyth filed with the Santa Clarita City Clerk. They can be tracked.
But because of the format in which the state’s “Form 460s” must be filled out in the event of transfers from other campaign committees, the money trail is anything but easy to follow.
So here is a roadmap of Smyth’s campaign finances … a guide to “who’s really supporting you with that money’’ … and why an average concerned citizen might well find it a puzzle to connect the dots and the dollar signs.
First, regarding the transfer of funds from Smyth’s Senate campaign committee to his Council committee:
On May 11, 2016, about a month before the Smyth for Senate committee was disbanded, Smyth transferred $8,345.14 to his City Council campaign, emptying the Senate account.
No details of who donated that money appear on the Senate 460 form. But the names of the donors do, in fact, appear on Smyth’s first City Council 460, filed with the city on Aug. 3 – though even there it takes a bit of squinting to figure out just who donated what.
That’s because, on those state forms filed with the city, the individual donors are itemized a line above where it is noted that their donations represent roll-overs from the Senate fund.
As an example, “Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.” is listed on a line by itself as having donated $845.14. For all the world, that looks like a donation specifically to the Smyth for Council campaign. But it is not.
The line below that reveals it was, in fact, a roll-over of money originally donated to the Smyth Senate campaign on Sept. 28, 2011 (actually to the Smith for Senate 2012 committee, a forerunner of the 2016 Senate committee).
There are nine such contributors listed – all but two for $1,000 … and adding up to that $8,345.14 transfer.
The transfer was fully documented, fully legal … and fully puzzling to figure out.
Significant among those roll-over contributors are United Health Care, Blue Shield and the American Subcontractors Association of California.
Also, while those contributors were cited on Smyth’s council papers, they could not be found in Senate-related campaign documents on the California Secretary of State’s website.
In an interview, Smyth told The Signal, “They are on file … they just may not be on the website anymore. They may be archived with the Secretary of State, but they were all on the website during that time (when the contributions were originally made).”
Including the transferred money from his Senate committee, Smyth’s Council campaign contributions totaled $85,877.14 through Oct 22, the last of three 460’s filed before the November election. One more, with post-election numbers, is due on Jan. 31.
Through Oct. 22, his council committee (excluding roll-overs) reported 54 contributions of $1,000 (the maximum allowed) — 32 of them in the early part of his campaign, before June 30; 15 more by Sept. 24; and seven others by Oct. 22.
Of note among those $1,000 contributions are: Molina Healthcare, where Smyth works as an associate vice president; the Musella Group, a PR agency that handles, among other clients, the Chiquita Canyon landfill; Waste Connections of The Woodlands, Texas, which operates Chiquita Canyon; Wilk for Senate, the campaign arm of newly elected state Senator Scott Wilk; the California Building Industry PAC of Southern California; and the 38th (Assembly District) Republican Central Committee.
The complete list of Smyth’s $1,000 contributors to date appears below this story.
In an interview with The Signal, Smyth stressed, “We have done nothing but comply 100 percent with the law’’ – and once again he took umbrage at Noltemeyer’s question of him at the Dec. 13 Council meeting.
“To intimate in a public forum that I looked to hide or circumvent campaign finance law is something I take very seriously, and will respond accordingly,’’ Smyth said.
He added, “I have a professional treasurer who follows the law 100 percent,’’ and, “I will not let accusations like that go without a response.’’
BIGGEST DONORS TO SMYTH COUNCIL CAMPAIGN
Of the $85,877.14 raised by the Cameron Smyth for City Council 2016 committee as of Oct. 22, there were 54 contributions of $1,000 – the biggest amount allowed – plus seven in that amount that were rolled over from Smyth’s State Senate campaign committee.
Here’s the complete list of $1,000 donors. (*-indicates money rolled over from State Senate committee.)
* Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
* Education Management (Pittsburgh)
* United Health Care Services, Inc.
* Blue Shield of California
* Political Action Committee of CCAA (Calif. Certified Acupuncturist Assoc.)
* UCPCM (United California Practitioners of Chinese Medicine)
Rancho Deluxe LLC
Poole & Shaffery, LLP
The Conservation Station
Alliance Land Planning & Engineering, Inc.
Dr. Kathleen Ayl
Gatzke Dillon & Balance LLP
Independent Construction Co.
KHTS AM-1220/Jeri Lyn Broadcasting, Inc.
Jack Nordahl Jr. (Coral Gables, Fla.)
Peggy Jean Rasmussen
Santa Clarita Concrete
Sikand Engineering Associates
The Musella Group LLC
Triple C Electric, Inc.
WFO Holdings LLC
Molina Healthcare, Inc.
Waste Connections Inc. (The Woodlands, Texas)
Santa Clarita Automobile Dealers Assn.
Neal Jones (Austin, Texas)
Wilk for Senate 2016
Balbir S. Brar MD, Inc.
Valencia Pulmonary Medical Group, Inc.
Narinder S. Grewal MD, A Medical Corp.
California Building Industry PAC of So Calif.
— List compiled by Kevin Kenney