12:22 AM PDT on Friday, October 29, 2010

By ERIN WALDNER
The Press-Enterprise

PDFs: View campaign statement forms from Banning City Council candidates:
Bob Botts | Debbie Franklin | Edward Miller | Lyndon Taylor

PDF: Read a campaign finance report from Riverside County Taxpayers for Accountable Government

A Beverly Hills developer has donated thousands of dollars to an independent expenditure group that supports two challengers in the Banning City Council race and opposes the two incumbents.

According to campaign finance records, developer Lloyd Fields gave $30,000 to Riverside County Taxpayers for Accountable Government, which is responsible for mailers and phone calls criticizing the incumbents, Mayor Bob Botts and Councilwoman Debbie Franklin.

Fields’ contribution to the independent group exceeds the total amount raised by any of the seven candidates in the race.

Botts and Franklin face challengers Perry “Rocky” Bray, Victor Edinburgh, Chris McCallum, Edward Miller and Lyndon Taylor for two seats on the council.

The independent expenditure group spent money in support of Miller and Taylor, according to campaign finance records.

Fields owns 130 acres in Banning that he wants to develop.

He said he gave money to Taxpayers for Accountable Government “because Banning is anti-business, anti-development. They are stooges of the Morongo tribe. Banning is never going to become a prosperous city under this kind of mismanagement.”

In addition to Fields’ donation, the group received $5,000 from Philipp Goebels, who maintains a Beverly Hills business address but lives in Beaumont.

Goebels, along with Miller and Taylor, successfully defeated a developer’s attempt to build a sludge plant in Banning. Goebels, who writes a blog critical of Banning City Hall, also gave $1,000 each to Taylor and Miller.

Taylor stressed that he received in-kind contributions, not money, from Taxpayers for Accountable Government. He said he didn’t know what the group’s mailers looked like before they were sent out.

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