Internal documents obtained exclusively by TurlockCityNews.com indicate that political consultant Carl Fogliani was the mastermind behind four 2008 robocalls attacking then-Turlock City Councilmember Mary Jackson.
The 1,649 pages of Fair Political Practices Commission reports detail every aspect of the investigation. E-mails, depositions and internal FPPC memos alike are included.
The internal information comes as FPPC General Counsel Zackery Morazzini has publicly listed findings of probable cause that Fogliani and his clients, current Turlock City Councilmember Amy Bublak and former Councilmember Kurt Vander Weide, were behind the robocalls. Bublak, Vander Weide, and Jackson were the three front-runners for two available Turlock City Council seats in the Nov. 4, 2008 election.
The investigation identifies Fogliani as the chief culprit. Fogliani admitted to the FPPC through his attorney that he paid for two of the phone calls, according to the documents. In an e-mail to TurlockCityNews.com, Fogliani maintained his innocence regarding the other two robocalls.
“We don't participate in speculation when there are political agendas trying to revive a five year old story,” Fogliani told TurlockCityNews.com. “The process will play out and we maintain that, and the evidence clearly shows, that we played no role in the two phone calls.”
Both Bublak and Vander Weide told FPPC investigators that they were unaware that Fogliani had placed any robocalls.
According to the documents, Vander Weide “sighed and stated Fogliani did a lot of things without his authorization,” when informed that Fogliani admitted responsibility for two robocalls. Vander Weide described Fogliani as a “loose cannon,” and noted Fogliani never gave him receipts for expenses.
Vander Weide also said he would provide a sworn statement that he was not aware of the robocalls, as “he has nothing to hide.”
Bublak told FPPC investigators that Fogliani “had no permission” to make robocalls, according to the documents. Bublak said she wanted to run a clean campaign. A Modesto Police Officer, Bublak told FPPC investigators that if she was a suspect then she needed to be read her Miranda rights.
Bublak went on to question the veracity of Fogliani's confession, and suggest that Jackson herself may have been responsible for the other two robocalls. She told FPPC investigators that Jackson was “playing the victim.”
Bublak's husband Milt Richards also denied any knowledge of or involvement with the robocalls, according to the FPPC documents. Richards said he “was disappointed in Fogliani.”
FPPC Internal, External Documents Tell Different Stories
The publicly released findings of probable cause seem to point more blame at Bublak and Vander Weide than Fogliani.
Both Bublak and Vander Weide may face four counts of failing to comply with identification requirements; none of the robocalls stated who paid for the calls. And both may face additional counts for failing to include payments for the robocalls on campaign finance forms, and attempting to conceal the source of the calls.
Bublak and Richards may also face charges for failing to report a $1,000 payment to Fogliani. And further counts may await Bublak and Vander Weide for failing to notify major donor Mark Hall, the developer of Monte Vista Crossings, that he needed to file certain campaign donor statements; Hall later paid a $1,600 fine related to the incident.
In the internal FPPC documents, both Bublak and Vander Weide come up somewhat tangentially. Neither admit to knowingly paying for the robocalls, and all persons interviewed describe Fogliani as acting independently. The majority of the internal documents focus on Fogliani's role in commissioning and paying for the robocalls.
However, in the findings of probable cause, the blame seems to be shifted primarily onto Bublak and Vander Weide. Fogliani is described as working as an “agent” working “on behalf” of Bublak and Vander Weide, who “aided and abetted in the carrying out of this deception.”
The internal FPPC documents were provided to TurlockCityNews.com by Tony Dane, a businessman who runs the Nevada-based robocalling firm AutomatedCalling.com. Though Dane did place robocalls for former Turlock City Councilman Ted Howze in 2006, the extent of his involvement in the 2008 robocalls remains unclear.
Dane obtained the internal documents after filing a lawsuit against the FPPC. He claims that the FPPC is a “corrupt organization” which violates free speech and privacy laws, and that FPPC officers lied in court declarations to access his bank records.
Robocalls Featured Impersonations, False Allegations
When the investigation began, the FPPC was aware of three robocalls placed during the 2008 Turlock City Council Campaign, all opposed to Jackson.
The first, placed Oct. 11 from a bogus Florida phone number, stated that “Special interests looking for favors are behind Mary Jackson's campaign.” The robocall was paid for by “Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods,” according to the call, but a nonprofit with that name has denied any involvement.
A second robocall came just two days later, on Oct. 14, from a Michigan phone number. This robocall claimed to be placed by “Taxpayers for Safe Neighborhoods,” and urged voters to support Bublak and Vander Weide, noting that the candidates were endorsed by Turlock police, firefighters, Sheriff Adam Christianson, and the Turlock Chamber of Commerce.
The most serious robocall came on Nov. 2, just two days before the election, from the same Michigan phone number. In it, a woman claiming to be Mary Jackson urged voters “to support the right of gay marriage,” noting that “Turlock must support a rich and vibrant community that includes everyone and regardless of whom they choose to love.” Those statements were politically charged in 2006, as Californians were also considering Proposition 8, an amendment banning gay marriage, on the Nov. 4 ballot. The robocall said it was paid for by the Friends of Mary Jackson, but Jackson has denied any involvement with the robocall; the speaker's voice also does not match Jackson's.
Lastly, an Oct. 22 robocall, previously unreported by any media outlet, was discovered as part of the FPPC investigation. The robocall alleged that though Jackson said she would not take special interest money, that “she took thousands from development interests” to pay for a campaign mailer, stating “those sure aren't the kind of Turlock values we want on City Council.” That robocall did not state who paid for it.
This article is the first in a three-part series examining the internal FPPC investigation into robocalls made during the 2008 Turlock City Council Elections. For more detail on the FPPC's case against Fogliani, Bublak, and Vander Weide, visit TurlockCityNews.com tomorrow.