Internal Fair Political Practices Commission documents reveal the details of a lengthy investigation into the source of four 2008 robocalls attacking then-Turlock City Councilmember Mary Jackson.
The documents indicate that Carl Fogliani, a political consultant, was the mastermind behind the robocalls. His clients during the 2008 election, Turlock City Councilmember Amy Bublak and former Councilmember Kurt Vander Weide, are believed to have funded the robocalls. Bublak, Vander Weide, and Jackson were the three front-runners for two available Turlock City Council seats.
Fogliani admitted responsibility for two of the four robocalls through his attorney, but maintains that he played no role in the other two calls.
Bublak and Vander Weide have referred to Fogliani as a “loose cannon” who often worked without authorization. Both claim they had no involvement with the robocalls.
All three could face criminal charges at the close of the FPPC investigation.
Two Robocalls Linked to Fogliani, Bublak, Vander Weide
The FPPC report comprehensively links Fogliani – and, by extension, Bublak and Vander Weide's campaign committees – to two robocalls placed Oct. 11, 2008 and Oct. 22, 2008.
Fogliani invoiced Vander Weide's campaign committee on Sep. 25 for “2,552 Live Outbound Calls.” Those live phone calls, which were not illegal and discussed Vander Weide's endorsement by the Turlock firefighters' union, were provided by a sub-vendor, named R.T. Burns.
FPPC investigators contacted Burns in May 2010. Burns told the FPPC that he was a middleman who coordinated telemarketing calls, and said that One Touch Direct, a Florida company, made robocalls for Fogliani's firm, Fogliani Strategies.
Dave Masi, the vice president of One Touch Direct, provided FPPC investigators with two computer audio files that matched the Oct. 11 and Oct. 22 robocalls.
Fogliani's attorney then became involved, admitting on Fogliani's behalf that he was responsible for those two robocalls.
“By way of explanation, Mr. Fogliani produced the call after he received information that Californians for Safer Neighborhoods (ID #1271053) would in fact fund the call,” Brian Hildreth, an attorney with Dell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP, a Sacramento law firm specializing in campaign finance and election law, said in an e-mail. “In the end, Californians for Safer Neighborhoods did not pay for the call.”
But Barrett Garcia, Treasurer for Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods, told FPPC investigators that his committee “had nothing to do with the robocalls.”
Hildreth went on to detail that the costs for the robocalls were split between Vander Weide and Bublak's campaigns. As the expenditures did not exceed sub-vendor reporting thresholds, the payments were included in other bills Fogliani submitted to the candidates.
“The expense for Vander Weide's share of the two calls came out of the $1,000 he paid to (Fogliani) pursuant to (Fogliani's) Sep. 25, 2008 invoice, and was included in the Oct. 8, 2008 check Vander Weide paid to (Fogliani),” Hildreth said. “… For Bublak, virtually the same scenario occurred.
“As with Vander Weide, (Fogliani) does not have in his possession specific documentation reflecting invoicing and payment of the exact amounts for the costs of the robocalls for Bublak. The cost of the calls were built into other invoices by (Fogliani) and other checks from Bublak to (Fogliani) for payment of the robocalls.”
Origin of Other Two Calls Less Certain
FPPC investigators then, more tenuously, link Fogliani, Bublak, and Vander Weide back to two other robocalls, placed Oct. 14 and Nov. 2, 2008.
Both robocalls were ultimately traced back to Nevada businessman Tony Dane's robocalling firm AutomatedCalling.com. Dane exclusively provided TurlockCityNews.com with 1,649 pages of internal FPPC documents; he has filed suit against the FPPC arguing the commission lied to obtain access to his bank records.
Oddly enough, the connection was made as the robocalls beared a Michigan phone number tied to a PAC representing Republican Mike Huckabee in the 2006 Presidential race. Dane was the broker for a robocall the PAC placed discussing gun rights, and that outgoing number appears to have been erroneously reused for the Turlock calls.
Dane does not dispute that he may have placed the Turlock calls, but said that his entire system is automated and that files and invoices are deleted once bills are paid. As such, he has no way of knowing who placed the calls – or truly if he placed them at all.
After reviewing Dane's financial records, the FPPC found no connection to individuals involved in the 2008 Turlock City Council campaign, the report said. However, it was found that Dane traveled to Modesto in November, 2008, as his ATM records reflect a charge at Laser Quest in Modesto.
The Oct. 11, 2008 robocall, which Fogliani admitted to, states that it was “paid for by Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods.” The Oct. 14, 2008 robocall states that it was paid for by the similar-sounding “Taxpayers for Safe Neighborhoods.”
Given that similarity, FPPC officials determined that the Oct. 11 and Oct. 14 calls were probably placed by the same individual. And as both the Oct. 14 and Nov. 2 calls were allegedly placed through AutomatedCalling.com, investigators believe they were placed by the same individual as well, allowing the FPPC to tie all the calls back to Fogliani, Bublak, and Vander Weide.
This article is the second in a three-part series examining the internal FPPC investigation into robocalls made during the 2008 Turlock City Council Elections. For more background on the FPPC's case against Fogliani, Bublak, andVander Weide, see Internal Documents: Fogliani, Bublak, Vander Weide Behind 2008 Robocalls. To read about political strife behind the scenes of the investigation, visit TurlockCityNews.com tomorrow.