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In the wake of contention following a public forum, the community of Brentwood is taking a closer look at campaign contributions.

During the mayoral candidate forum hosted by The Press and the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce Oct. 8, the four participants who attended were asked if they’d accepted any contributions from developers or special interest groups.

“I have received donations from lots of residents; lots of local business,” said current Vice Mayor Joel Bryant during the event. “I have also been endorsed by the freight unions as well as the fire district. And yes, I have taken some (contributions). I believe the largest check I have received so far is $2,500 at this point in time from one individual.”

This statement was what got him into hot water on social media following the event, since a $20,000 contribution from Sierra Pacific Properties Inc. appeared to have come through on the very same day of the forum. Under developer Albert Seeno’s filer description page on Cal-Access, a $20,000 donation for Bryant’s 2020 committee reflects a transaction date of Oct. 8 and a filed date of Oct. 9. Bryant later publicly shared a photo of the bank receipt for a $20,000 deposit dated Oct. 9.

Bryant further stated that he was not aware Seeno had contributed when he made his statement during the forum.

“But to know, number one, that all of these transactions are public information and that everyone is monitoring them, you would have to be a complete idiot to be in a public forum and lie intentionally, knowing that you’ve got people who are for another candidate who are looking for any opportunity to make you look that bad,” Bryant said, adding he would understand the problem if he’d known about the funds and that his position as a pastor relies on his honesty. “No seat is worth my integrity.”

Sierra Pacific Properties is an entity owned by Seeno, who also owns Discovery Builders — the applicant of the contentious Bridle Gate project. The applicant delayed bringing the project before the council until after the election in the wake of the Planning Commission’s vote to recommend a denial of the project in its current form.

“But what is it about the contributor, Seeno, that arouses so many suspicions in the public?” said Rod Flohr, Brentwood resident associated with Alliance for a Better Brentwood. “Many who are familiar with the Seeno name will not need to ask this question. For those who are not, probably the first thing to consider is that Albert Seeno-owned company Discovery Sales has a felony conviction for shady business practices that amounted to bank fraud. A simple Google search will turn up many instances of Seeno involvement in all sorts of lawsuits, threats and accusations.”

When asked if he knew the donation was forthcoming, since Seeno had donated to his campaigns in the past, Bryant went on to say candidates almost always have a mental list of contributors.

“So although I hadn’t received a check from Sierra Pacific yet, I wasn’t surprised that one came,” he said.

On accepting the large sum, Bryant said the amount of money is simply an outcome of requesting financial contributions.

“You never know what the response is going to be,” he said. “This year there has been a very good response to the request I believe because people who own businesses in the community or who want to do business in this community have seen my track record and know, but the filter I make all of my decisions through (is), ‘Is this going to be good for Brentwood?’”

Bryant stressed that, despite contributions, he has a track record of voting with this filter in mind. He pointed to his votes regarding Walmart, the transfer station, and the Amber Lane apartment project — all of which he claimed were votes against the desires of developers who had previously contributed to his campaigns.

Indrani Golden, a council candidate for District 3, was another candidate under the microscope when she also reported contributions from Seeno’s Sierra Pacific Properties in the amount of $5,000 and filed Oct. 10. Up until Oct. 10, Golden had only submitted a 410 (statement of organization). On Oct. 10, she filed four 497 forms, reflecting the Seeno dollars and additional contributions totaling $3,000 from two individuals and her own business, Golden Excellence.

“If Brentwood is going to attract employers, then having a relationship with such a company is a good thing for our city … Yes, that company is one of the Seeno affiliated companies just like Discovery Builders which owns the proposed Bridal Gate project land. But there was and is no quid pro quo, as I’ve never made a commitment to vote for that project nor any other project,” Golden explained. “I’ve merely pointed out the positives it can provide to Brentwood, such as the elementary school, instead of 63 homes that could be built on that part of the property. If I had made a commitment to vote for the project, then I would have to recuse myself from voting on it when it comes before the city council, which would do no good for either our community or Mr. Seeno.”

Another candidate for mayor, Karen Rarey, has pulled in $15,658 from individual contributors and a handful of unions.

“This campaign, I have not taken anything from developers other than a commercial developer who has 2.5 acres of land that she has left to develop,” Rarey said during the Oct. 8 forum. “And I have received funding from several unions.”

She pointed out that her brothers were both tradesmen and she was proud to say she received funding from them and two other unions.

Council candidate and incumbent Claudette Staton has accepted contributions from Premier Floor Care Inc. ($2000); IBEW 302 Community Candidates ($1,500); Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Small Contributors Committee ($300); Friends of Claudette Staton for City Council 2016 ($1,407.42); Plumbers & Stemfitters ($750); CLO Marketing Inc. ($500); Sprinkler Filters & Apprentices Local 483 PAC ($500); and JoAnn Klement Family Trust ($200).

Council candidate Olga Vidriales received contributions from California Real Estate PAC ($1,000) and Jim Frazier for Assembly 2020 ($1,000).

For reference, all candidates listed on the ballot were required to file a 460 or 470 form by Sept. 24. Those who have raised/spent $2,000 or more must file a 460 form. Those who did not raise or spend $2,000 or more and do not have an open committee were required to file the 470 form. Forming a committee is only a requirement for those spending over $2,000.

The following are contributions received by Brentwood mayoral and council candidates:

MAYORAL

Joel Bryant

Total contributions: $10,640 (an additional $26,500 was later reported via 497 form)

Contributors: Individuals; Sierra Pacific Properties Inc. ($20,000); Joel Bryant for City Council 2018 ($7,500)

Brian Carleton

Submitted only a 501 (candidate intention statement)

Paul La Follette

Submitted only a 501 (candidate intention statement)

Ryan Raimondi

Total contributions: $4,715

Contributors: Individuals; TRZ Billing LLC ($500)

Karen Rarey

Total contributions: $15,658

Contributors: Individuals; Bay Area FCF LLC ($100); International Union of Elevator Constructors ($100); Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 ($1,500); IBEW 302 Community Candidate PAC ($1,500); Glazer for Senate 2020 ($500); Northern CA Carpenters Regional Council Small Contributor Committee ($500); Republic Services Inc. ($500); Self

Edward Schuck

Submitted only a 470 form

Steve Young

Total contributions: $75

Contributors: Individuals

COUNCIL, District 1

Faye Maloney

Total contributions: $7,807

Contributors: Individuals

Jovita Mendoza

Total contributions: $10,605

Contributors: Individuals

Claudette Staton (filed this period)

Total contributions: $6,824.42

Contributors: Premier Floor Care Inc. ($2000); IBEW 302 Community Candidates ($1,500); Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Small Contributors Committee ($300); Friends of Claudette Staton for City Council 2016 ($1,407.42); Plumbers & Stemfitters ($750); CLO Marketing Inc ($500); Sprinkler Filters & Apprentices Local 483 PAC ($500); JoAnn Klement Family Trust ($200)

Brian Swisher

Submitted only a 501 (candidate intention statement)

COUNCIL, District 3

Indrani Golden

Up until Oct. 10, Golden had only submitted a 410 (statement of organization). On Oct. 10, she filed four 497 forms, reflecting contributions totaling $3,000 from two individuals and her own business, Golden Excellence. She also received a $5,000 donation from Seeno via Sierra Pacific Properties and filed it Oct. 10, at 5:34 p.m.

Susannah Meyer

Total contributions: $5,255

Contributors: Individuals; Brittell Environmental Corp. ($2,000); Glazer for Senate 2020 ($1,000)

Olga Vidriales

Total contributions: $5,000 as totaled from 497 forms; Contributors: Individuals; California Real Estate PAC ($1,000); Jim Frazier for Assembly 2020 ($1,000)

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