Councilman Don Hansen was the only member of the Huntington Beach
City Council to raise any campaign money in the last six months,
according to biannual contribution reports.
Some of Hansen's contributors recently had business before the
City Council, while other contributors will likely have business
before the council in the next three-and-half-years Hansen is in
All the money Hansen received was legally donated, and many of the
contributors to Hansen's campaign regularly contribute to several
political races in Huntington Beach. Still, some political watchdogs
say the contributions put Hansen in an awkward position when voting
on issues affecting contributors.
"This is part of the political process, and I think rational
people understand that," Hansen said, adding that his vote could not
be bought for a few hundred dollars. Huntington Beach campaign
finance rules limit political contributions to $300.
"In my opinion, taking campaign contributions makes me beholden to
no one," he said.
Keith Bohr last year spent between $80,000 and $100,000 on his
campaign, about twice what council members Debbie Cook and Hansen
spent, and both finished ahead of him.
Some of the people Hansen received money from include:
* Dale Dunn, his wife Ellen Dunn and Consultant Dick Harlow.
Harlow, who gave Hansen $100, works for Poseidon Resources, a
Connecticut company hoping to build a desalination plant in
Huntington Beach. Dale Dunn is a community leader and has publicly
endorsed the desalination project in Poseidon literature.
* Signal Landmark, owners of a highly controversial piece of land
on the Bolsa Chica mesa. Despite decades of opposition, Signal
Landmark recently received approval for a plan to build a scaled down
housing development on part of the mesa. In the coming months, the
council will consider annexing the property away from Orange County.
Signal Landmark gave Hansen $300.
* Shea Homes, which plans to ask the council to approve a
controversial proposal to build homes on a field behind the Bolsa
Chica mesa. Shea homes gave Hansen $250.
* The Huntington Beach Firefighter's Assn., which recently wrapped
up contract negotiations with the City Council that included a pay
raise. The association gave Hansen $300.
Hansen said he raised the money to help pay off about $14,000 in
campaign debt he incurred during his unsuccessful 2002 campaign and
the 2004 election, which he won. In the last six months, Hansen
Political Activist Mark Bixby, who runs the e-mail group HBTalk,
regularly monitors political campaign contributions. While he has not
yet had a chance to review Hansen's contribution report, he said he
has concerns about his fundraising practices.
"Generally speaking, I don't think it looks good for council
members who spend a lot of their own money during the election to
then convert those loans with paybacks after the election. It makes
them look bad," he said. "It's occurring out of the public eye, and
we the public don't get to see what's going on except for every six
Former Huntington Beach Mayor Ralph Bauer said there is no quid
pro quo between contributors and council members, arguing that the
campaign fundraising is an ingrained aspect of all politics.
"If you can't take their money and vote against them when they
come before you, then you can't be in politics," he said.
Without political fundraising, he argued, only rich people would
be able to fund campaigns.
"Most people are moral and honest, and if they disagree with it,
then they won't vote for it," he said.
On March 15, Bauer gave $200 to Hansen.