The State Democratic Party Convention is this weekend in San Francisco and the Chronicle has a lengthy preview of the CDP Chair’s race here.
This blog took some heat from various social media pages for a report on Kimberly Ellis and her finances. The Chron confirmed all of my reporting and went a step further — that Ellis didn’t pay federal taxes for eight straight years and that the timeline Ellis gave the writer regarding her financial woes doesn’t exactly match up with the filings.
And I’m burying the lede here a bit, but the Democratic Party of Orange County did not endorse for CDP chair this time around and no vote was ever taken. More on that towards the bottom of the page.
From the story:
Documents from the Contra Costa County recorder’s office show that Ellis has a long history of financial woes.
The Internal Revenue Service has filed more than $46,000 in liens against her, seeking unpaid taxes for every year from 2009 through 2016. In 2009, Jacksonville University, where she received her undergraduate degree in 1996, filed a judgment against Ellis for $28,614 in unpaid student loans. There is no indication that any of these debts have been repaid.
Ellis also lost her Richmond home to a July 2015 trustee foreclosure sale. The home was sold for $498,628, less than the $626,543 that Ellis and her former husband owed on the house they purchased in 2005.
The home had been in foreclosure off and on since 2007, the height of the national home mortgage debacle, when California home prices plummeted and foreclosures soared.
Ellis said that she is in a program to repay her unpaid taxes, and is upset at what she sees as an attempt to “debt-shame” her.
The information on Ellis’ financial history isn’t about debt-shaming; it’s about the ability to manage the finances of the state party. It’s a critical skill that I don’t think Ellis has in spite of her many gifts of personality.
Back to the story:
The attacks against Ellis have prompted other candidates to complain about what they see as a lack of transparency in a wide range of party operations, including its elections. Unlike people running for public office, candidates for party posts don’t have to say how much money they raised, whom they got it from and how they spent it. They also don’t have to reveal any personal financial data.
“The party can be more transparent,” said Rusty Hicks, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and a candidate for party chair. In party officer elections, candidates raising more than $25,000 should be required to disclose all contributions and expenditures, he said, which he and some of the other candidates have done.
Ellis isn’t the only candidate taking campaign hits. Daraka Larimore-Hall, the party vice chairman who first accused Bauman of harassing staffers, is being attacked regularly for that decision.
“The thing about being a whistle-blower is it makes you a target for both sides,” the Santa Barbara resident said. Ellis’ supporters “say that I knew (about the harassment) all along and should have said something before the (2017) chair vote. But Bauman’s people complain that I made the charges at all.”
Larimore-Hall denied pushing back against the accusers, saying in a lengthy Facebook post that “I never encouraged anybody to drop their lawsuit, I never threatened anybody, and I never sent ‘surrogates’ to threaten or intimidate anyone.”
Larimore-Hall, who along with Ellis and Hicks is considered a front-runner in the contest for party chair, said his campaign for the office has been an eye-opener.
“It’s sickening that the race for party chair has turned into any other type of election,” he said.
The DPOC declined to endorse a single candidate for chair. No vote was taken while most of the chair candidates did address the party Central Committee members.
One of my favorite meetings was the 2017 CDOP endorsement meeting where North Vice Chair Jeff Letourneau and former Central Committee member Greg Diamond nearly came to blows over a debate regarding a “no vote” option that was removed from the ballots after the candidates of Eric Bauman (backed by Letourneau), Ellis (backed by Diamond) and DPOC member Lenore Albert. This was a tense moment where many believe fists would fly.
One member tapped me on the shoulder to say “you might want to break this up.” My response was, “absolutely not. Got any popcorn?”
Then chair Fran Sdao explained that the local Party wanted to be a Party that endorsed. Bauman won a narrow endorsement and when on to win the chair’s race. The Chron article posted above said his team was fully aware of Ellis’ financial woes then but never used it to campaign against her.
This time around, there was never a vote to endorse. No one brought it up. I half expected to see it on the last agenda, but the party was far more interested in involving itself in the Terranea Resort union case in Los Angeles County (where I have business with clients there from time to time even though Democrats are now supposed to boycott this facility). With no official DPOC endorsement, delegates from Orange County are free to endorse whomever they’d like.
Have fun in San Francisco Democrats; business commitments will keep me home in OC this weekend.