The Once Mighty EmPAC Quietly Folds
The Political Action Committee known as EmPAC, used for more than a decade by Emeryville's right wing to consolidate and expand its political power, has quietly folded last week, ending the last vestige of the recently closed Emeryville Chamber of Commerce and bringing to a close an era of runaway development for the town. The termination of EmPAC ends speculation about whether the once powerful and widely recognized election game changer would continue on without its Chamber of Commerce progenitor and partner. After the death of the Chamber of Commerce in August and with the rolling up of EmPAC, the business community in Emeryville is now left without any official local lobbying capacity and without a way to effectively and clandestinely influence City Council elections.
The Chamber of Commerce invented EmPAC many years ago as a way for businesses and especially developers to secretly donate to City Council candidates of their choice. Before EmPAC, out-of-town developers with development proposals impending would have to give directly to the candidates of their choice at election time but rival candidates could and did make use of the donations by publicly 'outing' the contributors to draw votes away from the Chamber's candidate. In response, the Chamber introduced EmPAC.
EmPAC made large corporate political campaign contributions in Emeryville much harder to trace in a direct way. As a consequence, EmPAC was used in every election to funnel lots of money to their candidates and in so doing, the outcomes of many elections were presumably changed.
The left wing side in Emeryville has never made use of a Political Action Committee it should be noted, probably because their candidates generally receive small donations from Emeryville residents exclusively and as a consequence, there's no need for attempting to hide anything.
It has been widely reported the rise of the resident activist group RULE brought great difficulties for the powerful and secretive Chamber of Commerce and EmPAC and grassroots democratic electioneering helped spell its end. With election season starting in a few months in Emeryville and given EmPAC's rousing past success however, the termination of EmPAC does not preclude a new right wing PAC from rising up to replace it if developers and the business community so deem it.
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters received the 410 form officially disbanding EmPAC on September 3rd and Chamber members Jason Crouch and John Gooding were listed as assistant treasurer and principal officer respectively. Both those men have been heavily involved in Chamber and EmPAC business over the years including an unsuccessful attempt in 2005 to defeat Measure C, Emeryville's 'living wage for hotel workers' ordinance, an election that cost the group some $140,000.
|The Ignominious End of the Once Mighty EmPAC|
Will its demise bring a rise of transparency?
Will developers and businesses now donate to City Council
candidates directly and openly like everybody else?