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Sac Press Live special edition: Mayor Johnson’s problems with nonprofit disclosures

Mayor Kevin Johnson’s ability to raise money is unrivaled in City Hall, according to a report by Ryan Lillis in The Sacramento Bee, and that clout has been the cornerstone for a number of nonprofit efforts Johnson has initiated during his time in office. But Johnson and his staff’s inability to meet deadlines and avoid “clerical errors” recently earned his office some unwanted attention, and sparked questions of conflicts of interest.

Those questions will be the focus of a special edition of Sac Press Live Friday with guests Lillis and Sacramento News & Review’s Cosmo Garvin at noon.

[Check back here for the live chat at noon]


K.J. Inc,. by Cosmo Garvin in The Sacramento News and Review 

Mayor Johnson’s arena task force funded largely by Sacramento Kings, by Ryan Lilllis in The Sacramento Bee

We’ll be talking about the recent news of late reports of donations to a foundation created by the mayor that resulted in a Fair Political Practices Commission examination of Johnson’s network of nonprofit organizations.

Johnson’s nonprofits came under fire in a SNR piece by Garvin that questioned the transparency of the organizations that run parallel to the workings of City Hall, but – because they are private efforts – operate under a less accountable system of rules than public programs.

Those rules include what donations (or “behests”) need to be reported for tax purposes, and which do not. Garvin notes in his article that, despite strict limits on campaign contributions, “behests aren’t campaign contributions, so Johnson can raise unlimited amounts of money from companies and individuals.”

This blurring of the lines between public and private interests, Garvin wrote, is cause for concern: Donors contributing to private efforts spearheaded by a public official generally want something in return.

Editor’s note: The chat scheduled with Craig Powell has been postponed until next Tuesday. 


Problems floating around about Johnson’s nonprofits comes just weeks after he missed a deadline to submit an opposing argument to the tax measure appearing on the November ballot – which was declared to have been due to a “clerical error” and “mixed up deadline dates.”

That error prompted members of the political watchdog group Eye on Sacramento to file suit against the city clerk for the ability to put an opposing argument on the ballot. The group lost the suit, and ballot materials will only have the supporting argument for the measure.

Friday’s chat will continue in a second special edition at 2:30 p.m. with Craig Powell, president of Eye on Sacramento, who will be talking about the missed ballot argument deadline and what that means to taxpayers.

The chat will be streamed live on SacramentoPress.com Friday at noon with Lillis and at 2:30 p.m. with Powell.

Have a question for either guest? Post it in the conversation below this article.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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