Are Arkley Political Donations the Same Thing as HCDCC Political Donations?

Image from Daily Beast’s “The JCN Story: How to Build a Secretive, Right-Wing Judicial Machine” Photo Illustration by Louisa Barnes

Recently the Daily Beast ran an important article on the use of large sums of money to influence judicial elections.  If you haven’t, go check it out (click the picture), it’s more important than this. This post isn’t going anywhere.

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Our local feudal overlord Rob Arkley apparently is one on the leading edge of this ethically-challenged practice of money big money supporting their judicial candidate of choice.   If you can’t buy all the law makers, why not focus on the referees, right?

This of course comes to no surprise to us Humboltians who are regularly subjected to Mr. Arkley’s ideas and his comically right wing financial-based economic views.

It seems then, with evidence like that in this article elections would be fairly easy to win. Point out what side ole’ Rob is voting for, and the 99% will figure the rest out. Simple.

And it is working this way in California and Humboldt. That’s why Democrats win by 25 points in California and Humboldt election. [ This is an aside, but an important one.  This number is 25% and this is a big deal.  I asked Matthew Owen about this – something he has to ignore to consider himself in “the middle” and is reaction was that Governor Brown won by a handful of points – I think he said 54%.  Here is the  truth for Matthew and Republicans – Even the polarizing Governor Brown (compared to down-ticket statewide D/R votes) won by 20 points in CA broadly – and even 60% to Neel Kashkari’s 40%.  In Humboldt Governor Brown won by 30 points! 65% to Neel Kashkari’s 35%.  See “Numbers” way, way, below for more and links.]

So where do Democrats go from here? Republicans are now rightfully defined by Rob Arkley and Rush Limbaugh. Any question and take a look at the Republican’s recent (and late! – CA Secretary of State or any of you who would like to bring this to their attention) where the only line items are in kind rental payments by Mr. Arkley’s Security National.

Where Democrats go will have to be defined by those working to move forward what it is to be a Democrat. Politics, and endorsements are one thing, but there is also something as important and that is how and why we do what we do.

In the end, money in politics will be argued about ad infinitum based on our individual sets of ethics. So, as one reads through the comment zones of the mirrors of the Daily Beast article on the Lost Coast Outpost and the Tuluwat Examiner what one will find is not a defence of Rob’s practices, but an attempt at ethical equivalence.

Rob Arkley? Have you heard of George Soros and Tom Steyer?” Most of us on the left get this, I’m not sure we understand how important this argument is. This is what leads to the pox on both parties mentality which in the end is a win for conservatives and Republicans b/c it leads to even fewer people paying attention and voting. (Paul Weyrich’s goo goo syndrome – “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the election quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”)

But locally, the disingenuous argument is it’s not just George and Tom, but the HCDCC as a similar ethically challenged organization.  Thanks to Tuluwat Examiner commenter “nothanks”  comment zone readers were blessed to have our attention drawn to another one in a string of important statewide articles that bring to attention the practice of the HCDCC to take in up to $34,000 in large donations from labor and then spend similarly large amounts out of the county.

Take a look at this article (click “to another one” a couple of sentences earlier). I’ll express my opinions on this below the fold in the form of an open letter to HCDCC members.

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Open Letter to the Voting Members of the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee

It is a privilege to serve as your Treasurer. It’s also been an invaluable learning experience.  Thank you.

I bring this concern to you based on another volunteer activity of mine is to help shape public opinion. I do this outside the auspices of the Democratic Party even though 9 times out of 10 our interests align.

During our visioning meeting last month some members mentioned the importance of messaging. Messaging is essentially what we are speaking about when we discuss communication and education. It’s how we get out a Democratic message into our community.

Having this blogging hobby I’ve learned one of the fundamental aspects necessary to transfer a message is credibility. We could spend hours door-to-door, round up enough money to allow HCDCC-endorsed campaigns to buy ad-buys but we will not budge the meter any further if we are not credible.

In this context is how I’d like us to evaluate the large donations we accept and then, of our own accord make.

Recently the Daily Beast, a national online blogazine, published a very well researched article that called out Humboldt’s own Rob Arkley and some of his affiliates as leaders in the extremely distasteful practice of attempting to finance the campaigns of like-minded lower court judges. Basically, in sports terms, attempting to buy the referees of their businesses and our society.

The reaction of these outrageous practices, ones that are self-evident to the 99% is often to say, yeah, well, George Soros and Tom Steyer.

We in this room know this is a false equivalency, so we will also understand that when the HCDCC is brought up in this context this is also false equivalency. But the public does not always get this. This is why, on two occasions in the past 2 weeks our practice has come up on online discussions. Once by John Fullerton and once by an anonymous blogger who wrote this.

“How is this (what Arkley does) different than what the hcdcc does?” and posted this Sacramento Bee article which begins…

“Eureka, on California’s North Coast, is at least a seven-hour drive from Fresno, the northern tip of the Central Valley’s sprawling 14th Senate District. It’s even farther from Santa Ana, the Orange County city at the heart of Southern California’s 34th Senate District.

In political terms, though, the Eureka-based Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee was right in the thick of both campaign battlegrounds last fall.”

(Read more here: )

Now what we do is important, I can understand that and I’d even vote for it. What we do is also bending ethics if not the rules. As we bend ethics we have to be very open and honest about what we do or else the anonymouses, the John Fullertons and the Rush Limbaughs of the world will use these decent and important practices against us.

That’s why I would suggest that the HCDCC investigate it’s practice of accepting large contributions all of which except an amount in single digits proceeds to leave the committee again based on the votes of a select committee which does not include the Treasurer.

Here are some suggestions if you do choose to reconsider the standing vote that allows this practice.

a) Consider the efficacy of these. Research our spending in the past and ask if it was successful.

b) If we consider this practice important (and I do given the current war on unions) then please consider donating all of the extra proceeds that we tend to hold onto to non-political institutions. I think it’s critical for us to win this complicated argument by not benefiting at all from these transactions. Right now, we are dependent on these influxes to keep us in the black.

c) As you make your decision if and/or how we will continue the practice of accepting then donating large sums of money please consider not only any potential legal liability, but what is more important to me, even as your Treasurer, is the liability to the HCDCC’s credibility with our community at large.

As we move into an era where California Democrats win by 25 points, we have to find ways to avoid becoming complacent and, well, lazy. We don’t need this money. If we want to do what is right – continue to politically fight for unions – we should – with no apologies because more often than not their fight is our fight as Democrats.

If we want to do this, and we want to maintain credibility for those who may be subject to disingenuous arguments on the right, we should look hard at our own practices. I think this alone, more than an extra $2000 spent by a left of center candidate on one or two Times Standard ads will help to change hearts and minds of those in our community who may be dis-inclined to want to hear our message.


Regarding that 2014 CA governor’s race remember that Governor Brown received a huge victory but with a dwindling number of voters.

CA:  Jerry Brown:  4,388,368,  Neel Kashkari:  2,929,213

oh, btw CA’s population is 38,802,500.  *sad face*

Humboldt:  Jerry Brown:  24,003  Neel Kashkari: 13,146

oh, btw Humboldt’s population is 134,493.  *sad face again*


6 thoughts on “Are Arkley Political Donations the Same Thing as HCDCC Political Donations?

  1. Local says:

    No, they are not the same, considering the source(s), purpose and accountability of the funds. They are as different as Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum are from Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean. The credibility deficit is, however, about the same.

  2. jtimmons88 says:

    Thank you for encouraging a vigorous discussion on this topic. As a lowly non-voting member of the HCDCC I am very uncomfortable with the committee’s practice of laundering( or whatever you want to call it) money from outside the district. Why aren’t we getting a huge donation for our trouble? We are not in such good shape that we can provide services to the wealthier counties’ committees. Four of the five County supervisors vote with the Republican bloc. If the HCDCC were doing a great job, this would not be the case.

    1. Absolutely Julie. I wouldn’t call it laundering, I’d let the Republicans do that as they continue to ignore their side doing the same thing. But you nailed the voting with Republican bloc. So well said and I agree I don’t think the HCDCC is doing it’s job.

  3. Local says:

    Continue the practice but commit to 24 hour public reporting of all deposits and withdrawals — with a challenge to all others to do the same. You aren’t trying to hide anything anyway .

    1. We all* already do this for amounts over $1000. Anything over $1000 gets reported within 24hrs. It’s called a 497 report and the results can be found here…

      HCDCC’s ID is 761414.

      * except for Ryan Sundberg who when asked, his campaign manager (who now happens to be on the Planning Commission) said that the tardiness was based on bad advice. Let’s hope they are proactively seeking to pay the associated fines.

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