Dapper Don Perata Dines on Anti-Cancer Dough

Money for ballot proposal to increase cigarette tax may give leg up in mayor's race

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010  |  Updated 2:00 PM PDT
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Dapper Don Perata Dines on Anti-Cancer Dough

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Don Perata, right, might be using his statewide influence to help his campaign for Oakland Mayor.

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Former President of the State Senate, Don Perata, wants to help fund cancer research. He also wants to be mayor of Oakland.

The former issue is a ballot initiative proposal to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes in California by $1. It can count approximately $700,000 in cash on hand through political committees Perata controls.

However, the relationship between those committees and the latter issue, Perata's quest for mayor, is a close one -- one in which the ballot initiative usually picks up $600 tabs for "fund-raising" dinners that don't seem to result in funds.

An exposé in the East Bay Express says that while Perata might not be violating the letter of campaign finance laws, it's pretty apparent the spirit of the law has probably left the building.

The most telling anecdote is a $447 bill for a meeting charged to ballot initiative committee Hope 2010 -- which shares an office with the mayoral campaign -- that even Perata admitted in documents should have been charged to his other campaign.

Perata is the odds-on favorite in the race for mayor, and while likely opponent Jean Quan has more cash on hand for campaign, it's dwarfed by the statewide initiative money, which could also discourage other competition in the city's first race to be decided by ranked-choice voting.

Jackson West clearly needs to sponsor more ballot initiatives.

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