San Bernardino council member Robert Jenkins. (kurt miller/the press-enterprise)


Published: 06 November 2011 08:20 PM

The San Bernardino city police and firefighter unions have contributed $196,628 directly or indirectly to City Council and city attorney candidates this year, almost completely bankrolling two campaigns, public records show.

The San Bernardino Police Officer’s Association PAC had contributed $106,127 and the San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters PAC had given $90,501 as of Oct.22, the most recent filing deadline for political action committees’ campaign finance disclosure forms.

Some contributions were checks written to the campaigns. In other cases, the unions’ political actions committees paid for campaign literature, consulting services and a television commercial.

The biggest beneficiaries: John Valdivia, running in the Nov. 8 election against Ward 3 incumbent Tobin Brinker, and Robert Jenkins, who won a mail-in election in July for the Ward 2 seat.

Both candidates have said they would not be swayed by campaign contributions.

Brian Janiskee, professor and chair of the political science department at Cal State San Bernardino, characterized those contributions as “Democracy 101.”

“Any constituent group in a democracy is going to seek to influence policy through the electoral process,” Janiskee said. “We are going through tough budget times and like any constituent groups, they are trying to protect their interests, not just financial, but policy that would allow them to do their jobs properly. … There are few places candidates can go outside of those places to seek the funds they need to fund a credible race.

“It’s up to the people to decide whether that relationship is a good one or not for the city,” Janiskee said.

Neither the police or firefighters union returned phone messages seeking comment.

Valdivia has received $61,903 this year from the unions, according to forms filed by Valdivia and the unions. Valdivia, in the most recent form he filed Sept. 29, listed contributions from only three individuals: $500 each from a doughnut shop and an optometrist and $300 from San Bernardino Unified school board member and San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Judi Penman. Her husband, San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman, has endorsed Valdivia.

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