Local Government

Chaffees spend $800,000 on their own campaigns so far

Husband and wife attorneys, Doug and Paulette Chaffee, have collectively contributed $800,000 as of April 13 towards their campaigns for two different County seats on the June 7 ballot, according to campaign finance filings available from the Orange County Registrar of Voters (https://www.ocvote.gov/candidates/campaign-finance-info). While there are County campaign contribution limits for how much a candidate can accept from others, those limits do not apply to contributions from the candidate’s own funds, per section 1-6-5 of the county ordinance pertaining to campaign finance (https://www.ocvote.gov/candidates/campaign-finance-info/orange-county-campaign-reform-ordinance).

A combination of semi-annual Form 460 filings for 2021 and Form 497 filings for contributions of $1,000 or more 90 days prior to an election shows that Current Chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors (BOS), Doug Chaffee has contributed $600,000 to defend his seat in the 4th District against Buena Park Mayor Sunny Park, Brea Councilperson Steve Vargas, and a lesser-known candidate Martin Simonoff. On June 30, 2021, Chair Chaffee loaned his campaign $300,000 and again on March 30 of this year he loaned his campaign another $300,000.

Above and below: Campaign finance filings show District 4 Supervisor candidate Doug Chaffee contributing $600,000 to his own campaign for re-election.

Chair Chaffee has received large contributions from three donors other than himself. Planned Parenthood of Orange County and San Bernardino and the National Union of Healthcare Workers have each contributed the maximum contribution of $2,200 and an individual contributed $2,100.

Buena Park Mayor Park has reported $40,000 from 27 donors who each contributed between $1,000 and the $2,200 limit, including the Orange County Firefighters Association and the same individual who donated to Chair Chaffee. She has not made any contributions or loans to her own campaign.

Brea Councilperson Vargas reports a $10,000 contribution from himself and $24,900 from 14 other large donors, including John Saunders, who is known for purchasing and increasing rent at senior mobile home parks such as Rancho La Paz in Fullerton.

Mr. Simonoff has not reported any large contributions of $1,000 or more. He may report lesser contributions when the candidates file their first and second pre-election Form 460 filing, which is due on 4/28 and 5/26, respectively.

Form 497 filings from Ms. Chaffee’s campaign show that she has loaned $200,000 to her campaign in three increments—$10,000 in February, $40,000 in March, and $150,000 in April. She has not reported any large contributions from anyone but herself.

Above and below: Filings show Board of Education candidate Paulette Chaffee has contributed $200,000 toward her own campaign so far.

Ms. Chaffee is the sole challenger to incumbent Tim Shaw, who is currently appointed to fill the seat he vacated earlier this year on the County Board of Education (BOE) in District 4. This year he has raised $35,500 from four individuals and one political action committee. His largest contributor is attorney Mark W. Bucher, who gave $25,000. Bucher is a Board Director of the conservative/libertarian California Policy Center, which advocates for charter schools. There are no campaign finance limits for seats on the BOE.

Though the June 7 election is a primary, it will determine whether Shaw or Chaffee will sit on the BOE in District 4. As well, the District 4 BOS seat could be decided at the primary if one candidate can garner a simple majority (50% +1). Otherwise, the two top candidates will go to a run-off election on November 8.

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