Money for nothing - Page 2

Bakery associate received public matching funds but didn't document spending
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Bey also assured Purnell that the listed contributors were adults who gave their own money, as required by law, although 26 donors listed their addresses as either 5832 or 5836 San Pablo, locations used at that time by Your Black Muslim Bakery.

Once Bey got the money, he stopped filing required campaign finance statements with the city. When he eventually filed them in September 2002, the forms offered no detailed accounting of the $39,741 worth of expenditures. Nor did Bey explain the gap between the amount spent on his campaign and the contributions received, which came to $28,695, including the public matching funds.

Often the bulk of election costs come from fees paid to consultants, printed campaign materials, fundraising events, and office rental. Bey's committee paid all but $500 to a person by the name of Vaughan Foster, who provided no address or further identification. Foster reportedly received $27,000 for salary, $11,000 for circuutf8g petitions, $241 for voter registration, and $1,000 for phone banking.

Bey's birth name is Victor Foster.

The Public Ethics Commission received a complaint and ultimately voted in August 2002 to forward the matter to the state FPPC after a stormy hearing during which Bey told the commissioners he was "not a professional politician," as the Contra Costa Times reported. He also told the commission he "would not bow down to [them]."

In an Oct. 10, 2002, letter to state authorities, Purnell wrote, "The commission believes this matter is important because the commission relies on the content and accuracy of campaign statements to help administer its matching fund program."

The FPPC has moved to subpoena bank records and other materials during the intervening years. But in August 2007, nearly five years after Purnell's initial request and four years after he forwarded hundreds of pages of documentation from the campaign to Dan Schek, an FPPC investigator, Bey received a letter declaring the case closed.

Jean Quan, the District 4 incumbent who ran against Bey in 2002, said she didn't recall him stumping widely or knocking on doors in the area's neighborhoods. She was surprised he raised $15,000 from private donors to begin with and said he didn't appear to spend much of it on campaign signs.

"I ran into a few fliers of his," she said, "but nothing that would cost $30,000."

According to the city's municipal code governing elections, the Public Ethics Commission is supposed to "promptly advise" the city attorney in writing, as well as the "appropriate prosecuting enforcement agency," of any evidence of criminal violations.

The law states, "any person who knowingly or willfully misrepresents his or her eligibility for matching funds ... is guilty of a misdemeanor."

The law also gives the local commission broad latitude to recover the funds, including penalties and fines not to exceed $1,000 per violation, and authorizes the commission to sue the candidate.

But none of that was done in Bey's case, Purnell said. The matter was referred to the state because the Ethics Commission does not have the authority to enforce state elections laws, which at that time appeared to be Bey's most obvious violation, Purnell said.

"To make a criminal complaint we have to prove intent," Purnell said.

He said he was never pressured by anyone to refer the matter to the state instead of local authorities. Back then he had no idea who Bey was, that he was connected to Your Black Muslim Bakery, or that he had defaulted on a $1.1 million economic revitalization loan from the city of Oakland just a few years before running for the Oakland City Council, Purnell said.

"I didn't know Nedir Bey from Adam," Purnell said, adding that he later learned of Bey's background from a November 2002 article in the East Bay Express.

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