WHO OWNS THE MADERA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS?
Over the last few months I have been researching where the money comes from to run a $90k supervisor's campaign and the results show that the majority of the money isn't from the local mom and pop voters but from the multi-million dollar developers from Fresno and around the state.
I am planning on writing an article for each of the board members. Today, we will start by discussing the chairman of the Madera County Board of Supervisors and the man who believes he can unseat Congressman Jim Costa next year, David Rogers of Chowchilla.
When Rogers was running for his position against challenger Justin White in 2010 the future supervisor told attendees of a debate held in the Little Theater at the Chowchilla Fairgrounds that under no circumstances would he ever accept a "GIFT" or "DONATION" from anyone with business in front of the county.
Well I guess that didn't include donations totalling $10,000 from developer Robert McCaffrey, who is expected to break ground in 2016 on the Tesoro Viejo master-planned community in southeastern Madera County.
The 1,600 acre project is located east of Highway 41, three miles north of Ave. 12. This is not just a housing development but a build-out of a complete community with over 5200 residential dwellings and three million square feet of commercial developments.
It is expected to have a population close to 16,000, by the year 2030. While the residents of Madera Ranchos ask where the water is coming from? Considering the depletion of ground water sources because of the current four-year drought.
So it's a sound investment for Robert McCaffrey, the son-in-law of disgraced Fresno developer and convicted felon John Bonadelle, to give Supervisor Rogers $10,000. Just like it was a sound investment for Fresno attorney Tim Jones to give Rogers another $2500 for his Gateway Village development at the corner of Highway 41 and Avenue 12.
It would have probably been a much larger donation if Rogers was facing a challenger in the last campaign but there are always places and people to spend campaign funds on for Mr. Rogers. But we will get back to that in a little bit. Let me tell you about a nice older gentleman from Fresno named Richard Spencer.
Mr. Spencer is a the owner of Harris Construction as well as many other valley businesses such as CRU Winery in Madera. Harris Construction is the company that the county awarded with the bid to build the new Madera County Sheriff's Department. Now Mr. Rogers and Mr. Spencer go way back. All the way back to the year 2013 when Spencer submitted a bid for the new sheriff's office and fell head over heals for our supervisor from Chowchilla.
Spencer did not donate to Roger's 2010 campaign but in 2013 the Spencer family and his companies not only gave the supervisor thousands in campaign donations but also held a party at Spencer's CRU Winery for the supervisor to the tune of a $3500 non-monetary donation to the campaign. A campaign that went uncontested.
Even though he faced no challenger, Rogers still found a way to spend all this developer money that was donated to his campaign. He hired his kids. He also hired his daughter-in-law and her mother.
Two of his son's (Austin and Jordan) were paid $1000 each to walk precincts for their dad's campaign. Natalie Hamilton-Rogers was paid $600 for fundraising help in 2014 and in 2015 another $400 for waitress service at fundraising event(s). Laura Hamilton, his son's mother-in-law, was paid $800 for data processing as was Belinda Potter, a secretary at Roger's church, Grace Community Church. She was paid $500 for her services.
Rogers told BVN in a text message on July 28, 2015, "My family worked legitimately for the campaign putting up signs, keeping them up. Preparing publishing's, printed invitations, computer work, email, in the hundreds of hours. They ran all the fundraisers, decorated, served, sent out invitations, signed people in, logged receipts, did the books. We did not hide it because it is legit. Everyone that worked on our campaign with the exception of very few, were paid. That is what you collect campaign funds for."
We asked Mr. Rogers if the tax form 1099's were issued by the campaign for each of these paid jobs performed by his family to which he said he didn't have to for anything under $900 a year. When we reminded him that the limit was $600 a year he said, "Yes $600 not $900."
But he still never answered if his family employees received the proper tax forms to claim the income or if those payments went unclaimed under the table?
As far as gifts Rogers has taken, there's the usual dinners from Pacific Gas and Electric that all the other board members took. But Mr Roger's dinners came with free wine from Richard Spencer. Since 2011 Richard Spenser has gifted Supervisor Rogers with a $300 a year CRU Winery Membership. Rogers said, "I gave it all away. Don't tell Richard. Not much of a wine drinker."
As to why Rogers would take gifts and donations from developers with business in front of the county he had this to say in an August 25, 2015 text message, "Not many gifts. Contributions, yes, all legit. My policies were for that campaign. Not for life. I was not put into office by them. That was the point at the time."
So I guess when he had nothing to offer the developers as a candidate he stood his ethical ground against gifts and donations. But then after getting elected and he had something to sell, ethics be damned and he let the developer checks roll in and the money flow freely to his family members. I wonder if that was his point for the last non-challenged election?
Next up will be Supervisor Rick Farinelli who claims he won't take developer money. He claims to have funded his campaign so far by donating $25,100 and loaning $15,000 of his own money to finance the effort. He also claims that gang members targeted him at the local Save Mart on Howard after reading about his "Gang Task Force" in the Madera Tribune. Curiously, he declined to ask the police to review the store's security video to identify any 'gang' suspects. Of course we all know that story smells of rotten fish and Farinelli is not a man of his word. He has already taken a $5000 donation from one of Madera's most notorious developers for next year's campaign.