It’s a long time until the November 2017 election, but Councilman Tony Madrigal has started raising and spending money in his re-election bid.
Madrigal, who was elected to the council for the first time in November 2013, has raised $8,713, according to his most recent campaign finance form filed with the city. The form covers July 1 through Dec. 31, though Madrigal says nearly all of the donations are related to a Dec. 3 fundraiser he held to celebrate his first year in office. (I’ll have more on who contributed lower in the column.)
Madrigal said he has started raising money so he can get that out of way and just be a candidate in 2017. “Come election year,” he said, “I’ll be focused on talking to voters. ... Talking to voters is my favorite part.”
He took a different approach when he ran for council in 2013. His fundraising started that year and he raised more than $28,000, according to campaign finance forms filed with the city. The two other candidates elected to the council in 2013 – Bill Zoslocki and Jenny Kenoyer – also started raising campaign funds that year.
Modesto’s six council members are elected by districts of roughly 34,000 residents each. Madrigal represents District 2, which includes downtown and south and west Modesto. He received 804 of the 1,465 votes cast, easily defeating two opponents.
Madrigal’s most recent campaign form lists $1,064 in expenses. He spent $114 for website and online services, $137 for Happy New Year cards (he said the cards arrived too late for him to send, but he’ll use them for next New Year’s) and $140 for his personal cellphone. He also spent $673 in non-itemized expenses of less than $100 each. Madrigal said this was for such purchases as tickets to attend nonprofit fundraisers and similar events.
California’s Fair Political Practices Commission says candidates can form committees – which allows them to raise and spend money – at any time before an election. Campaign funds can be used, in general, for any political, legislative or governmental purpose. And it’s OK to use campaign funds to make donations to nonprofits.
FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga said the commission advises candidates to have separate phones for their campaign and personal use. But if candidates use personal cellphones, the calls should be itemized and campaign funds used only for campaign calls.
Madrigal said he did not do that and used campaign funds to pay all of the cellphone bills. But he said he has stopped doing that because he wants to use campaign funds for other purposes.
Wierenga declined to comment about Madrigal and his cellphone bills. He said the FPPC does not comment about specific incidents unless it has done its own gathering of facts and analysis.
Those who gave to Madrigal in his most recent filing period include Mayor Garrad Marsh, who gave $250. Madrigal also received $1,000 each from Quetzal Corp. and the Mitchell Dental Plaza in Ceres.
He received donations of $500 each from Modesto attorney George Petrulakis, the Modesto City Employees Association, Modesto attorney Tai Bogan and the Sacramento-based International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 684 political action committee. He received a $200 donation from Supermercado Del Sol owner Jose Arcos and $250 from Los Amigos Tire Pros.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.