The weight of the California Faculty Association is showing up in mailboxes across the 9th state Assembly district.
In the June 8 Democratic primary, the association is backing Chris Garland, who is on leave as its political director. Over the weekend, it put another $89,918 behind his candidacy, bringing the total to more than $116,000, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
A hit piece from a political committee affiliated with the association goes after Kevin McCarty, a Sacramento City Council member who is one of Garland's chief rivals. The full-color flyer Photoshops McCarty holding shopping bags full of electronic gadgets.
"Kevin McCarty dipped into a special slush fund to go on a spending spree with your tax dollars," the flyer says. "If this is how Kevin McCarty spends your tax dollars now, what will he do when he gets to the Capitol?"
The flyer cites a story last November in the Sacramento News & Review that chronicled how every member of the City Council spent their $55,000 a year discretionary fund. They have free rein, and they spend it on office expenses or give it to various neighborhood groups, nonprofit and schools in their districts.
The News & Review found that McCarty spent quite a bit of his money on computers, cell phones, cameras and other technological gadgets. But it also found his biggest expense was a $30,000 contribution for the "Operation College" program at Hiram Johnson High School.
That donation probably wouldn't raise the hackles of voters and, tellingly, that wasn't mentioned in the faculty association flyer. The flyer also didn't detail the spending "sprees" of other council members, including Lauren Hammond, who is also running in the primary.
UPDATE: While the committee (officially called End Business as Usual in Sacramento, Support Chris Garland for Assembly 2010, Faculty for our University's Future) is sponsored by the faculty association, it is also getting financial support from two other groups. According to filings at the Secretary of State's office, the California Builders Association has put in $49,000 and Blue Shield of California has chipped in $21,000 in recent weeks.