Drivers on University Avenue might have noticed large billboards for mayoral candidate Kriss Worthington in the last week. But Worthington’s campaign did not buy the billboards. Instead, the Committee for a Progressive Berkeley, an independent organization established by Council Member Jesse Arreguín, spent $1,000 with CBS Outdoor for the billboards, one at Grant for eastbound traffic, the other at Curtis for westbound traffic.
“I did see the billboard when I was cycling on University,” Worthington told Berkeleyside this morning. “I didn’t know who paid for it.”
“This committee is a completely different twist on independent election committees,” Arreguín said. “They’re usually funded by business groups or people with deep pockets. This is a very grassroots effort. The whole purpose is to raise funds to support progressive candidates and positions on various ballot measures.”
According to election filings, the Committee for a Progressive Berkeley raised $1,070 in the third quarter, $1,000 of which was donated by Susan Swift, identified on the 460 form as an unemployed resident of El Sobrante. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner honored Swift, among others, as one of the women of the year for Assembly District 14 in 2010. Swift is board chair of Richmond-based non-profit Youth Enrichment Strategies.
Worthington said “he had no idea” who paid for the billboard.
“It would be more helpful if they just write a check to the campaign,” Worthington said. “I’m sure they mean well. I generally don’t support independent expenditures. It’s usually people with mega amounts of money.”
“That’s just an indication of how completely there’s been a lack of communication with Kriss on this issue,” Arreguín said, when Berkeleyside told him about Worthington’s reaction. “I formed this committee in August. We decided to do a billboard because I’ve never seen a candidate do a billboard [in a Berkeley city race]. We wanted to do something unique and different.”
Arreguín said he expects to do some more fundraising with his committee before the election.
“We’re getting some contributors. We haven’t been making an active push. But people have been contacting me and saying they want to support the committee,” he said. “It’s just me, basically. I’ve been the one deciding and doing the fundraising, and deciding what money is spent on.”
Worthington said his campaign had raised $19,029.86 in the third quarter (which compares to $43,656 for Mayor Tom Bates and $15,385 for Jacquelyn McCormick). His filings were not available through the online portal last week, he said, because of technical problems with uploading. He did mail a copy of his filing postmarked before the deadline, and also hand-delivered a copy to the City Clerk. According to Mary-Kay Clunies Ross, the city’s public information officer, the clerk’s office waits for six days after the deadline before sending out penalty notices for missed filings, in order to make sure filings with correct postmarks have been received.
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