How Much Money Does it Take to Buy a Newport Beach Election?

First, I want to thank everyone.  This last election, our voices were heard.  We spent the least amount of money and got the greatest return– by far.  At 41% against an incumbent that spent $150,000.00 to buy her seat, we really showed that the public is paying attention.  The site was a wild success, reaching far more people than I had ever hoped for.  The grassroots activism by so many people was immensely humbling, and I appreciate it beyond words.  Sure, I would have liked to win, but with filing at the last minute and then being injured to the point of not being able to walk (bike accident!) through the entire campaign, and raising just a few bucks to get by, I think I should have been expected to do far less with far more.  The fact that we had such a great showing was amazing.  Thank you, everyone, for your support.

But now: on to the fun stuff!

Now that all the documents have been filed, we finally get to answer the question that so many have asked for so long:
What’d the incumbents spend on this election?

This map will display the District being run in, in numeric order with the incumbents listed first.  It will also list the total vote amounts, and the total spent divided by votes– or the “cost per vote”, which is how political-types measure these sorts of things.  It will also break down– based on the Cost Per Vote (or CPV)– how much LESS then winner could have spent to tie the election, and also how much MORE the loser could have spent to tie the election.  Since the CPV is different for each person and for each district, these numbers should prove interesting!

(Direct image link, here:

NOTE: Since I spent less than the $2,000 required for reporting, we will just pretend that I spent the maximum of $2,000, for the sake of calculations.

Even more interesting is the eye-popping amounts that the incumbents spent to win this election– aside from Muldoon, they all spent well into the six-figures to maintain their seats.  Where’d this money come from?  Much of the funding actually came from out of state.  Why would so many people from out of state care about a Newport Beach municipal election?  They don’t.  Let’s get into Money Laundering 101:

What is Money Laundering? 
Money Laundering is the case where someone attempts to disguise where money is coming from.  Let’s say I am a builder and I am looking for special permits, but I know that in order to get them, I will need to bribe someone– or “contribute” to someones campaign.  Naturally, neither myself nor the candidate who I am bribing or contributing wants for my name to pop up on their donation list.  So what to do?  I get my Nephew’s Cousin’s Brother’s Girlfriend’s Grandmother who lives in Utah $1,100 in cash and ask her to donate it to my preferred candidate, then I tell that candidate to “look for money coming from Utah, that’s from me”.

Due to the oddball connections, this is virtually impossible to trace to the point of evidence in a criminal trial without a direct confession, but one simply has to wonder– why does someone who lives out of town– in Spokane, or Utah, or NYC, or Florida– care so much about our municipal elections that they max out in financial contributions to a particular candidate?  Sure, some of the times it’s the mother or son– but those can (50% of the time) be easily corroborated by last name.  But what happens when there are no matching last names, and dozens and dozens and dozens of these donations coming through?  To me, where there is smoke, there is fire.

What about Shakedowns?
Add to this the “Shakedown” techniques often deployed by politicians against businesses in distress– like the new Taco Bell on the peninsula, whose family maxed out three times to Dixon (see here, and here), and has been applying for the liquor license she so vehemently opposes, or the poor fellows on the Newport Beach Mooring Association, who Dixon regularly threatens with tax increases so high it would force many of them off their moorings, or the horrible fate cast upon the Crab Cooker, which was caused by their neighbors– and everyone remembers Dixon taking that neighbors side when she was trying to shut down Woody’s Wharf.  In my opinion, these businesses were all strong-armed into donating to a politician who has repeatedly gone against their own interests.

But what does that donation buy them?
Did Taco Bell get their liquor license that they’ve been pushing for since they opened?  After 2 years of dealing with the city: No.
Did the Crab Cooker suddenly get rebuilt overnight?  After more than 3 years: No.
Did the NBMA get their rents returned to their normal levels?  After more than 4 years: No.
But what they did do was contribute to the degradation of our beloved city, and have guaranteed that their own interests will be fought against by the very person who they gave money to help win an election.

Want to take a peek for yourself?  Feel free to browse all the donations, right here:

Local politics– it affects your life faster and more effectively than national politics… and it’s far, far more filthy.  Enjoy!



About Mike Glenn

Mike is the founder and publisher of Save Newport and Chair of Government Relations for the Elks Lodge. He writes, shoots photos, and edits, but much of the time, he's just "the IT guy". He can be reached at: Google+, Facebook, or via email, at