Fullerton Collaborative Received Contributions from Developers


You'd be smiling, too.

You'd be smiling, too.


Our own Travis Kiger met with the Chairman and Treasurer of the Fullerton Collaborative yesterday to review donations to that group from people who might have had business before the City of Fullerton where the Collaborative’s Executive Director, Pam Keller, sits on the city council. He also looked into whether or not the Collaborative had received contributions from developers – people from whom Pam Keller had specifically refused to take campaign contributions.

From the records made available to him, Travis discovered two prominent names: Pelican-Ontario, an affiliate of the Amerige Court project developers, and the egregious Steve Sheldon, pitchman for the massive Jefferson Commons project. Pelican and Sheldon gave $300 and $1000 to the Collaborative, respectively. Bushala Brothers, Inc., local property owners and developers in Fullerton gave $1000 as well.

The issue of the St. Jude Medical Center participation in the Collaborative, and Keller’s December 2007 votes in favor of their large project on the west side of Harbor Boulevard was also discussed at length.

The officers of the Collaborative have claimed that the Executive Director is paid from funds separate from those gathered from donations that support Collaborative activities. That may or may not be accurate, but it is true that the typical budget for “Faces of Fullerton,” for instance, includes $5000 for staff salary, and the Collaborative only has one employee – Keller. The larger issue is that contributions made to the Collaborative could, and may have gone to pay for the contract with FSD for Keller’s services. Is it really necessary to parse out different accounts?

The Collaborative leaders also related that in the future they will scrutinize and pre-approve all donations; but that is not any of our business. Our business throughout this affair has been to find out if Pam Keller has been voting on projects applied for by members and contributors to the Collaborative (she has), and whether she has solicited donations from the very developers who she refused to take money from for her campaign (she has).

In conclusion, we make no accusations of illegal behavior on anyone’s part; but is it ethical of Pam Keller to refuse developer campaign contributions only to turn around and solicit them for the Collaborative – an entity she is paid to run? We don’t think so. When she ran for council in 2006 Keller made a big deal about letting the development process be driven by public participation – rather than by outside developers. Her votes to approve the gigantic Jefferson Commons and Amerige Court projects were baffling to many who no doubt took her campaign promises at face value.

There you have it, Friends. You decide.

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  1. #1 by dirty tricks on September 30, 2009

    So she broke her promise to voters that she would not be influenced by developer money. That’s one thing.

    But to hide it under the cover of her non-profit, that is despicable!

  2. #2 by A Friend on September 30, 2009

    So I suppose that lobbyist Steve Sheldon just happened to give $1,000 to the Fullerton Collaborative because he really believes in their mission. Get real. This was all done with a wink and a nod.

  3. #3 by van get it da artiste on September 30, 2009

    a half turth is a lie, keller’s halfway hiding herself behind the fullerton collaborative makes her promise to let the development process be driven by public participation a lie. recall or vote out these half-wits like keller

  4. #4 by Disillusioned Ex-hippy on September 30, 2009

    I knew it. She monaed and groaned about Amerige court. She moaned and groaned about Jefferson Commons, too. Then voted to approve them!

    We’ve been sold down the river. Time for Keller to go.

  5. #5 by Fullerton Rudy on September 30, 2009

    Thanks Travis and Shadow. Great work. So where was Sharon Kennedy? Where was Barbara Giasone?

    Thankfully we have FFFF going to bat for the rest of us.

  6. #6 by Another Developer on September 30, 2009

    Could it be that your very own “Admin” was a participant in this dirty practice of giving money to support local non profits?

    You are all barking a bit too far up the conspiracy tree. Most developers as a matter of getting a project approved invest funding into local non profits. These developers did so to participate in Faces if Fullerton and reach community members.

    What you are trying to claim is that developers gave money to support Faces. A small portion of that may have been included in payments to FUSD for Kellers salary. But legally unless Her vote to approve the project brought her specific salary increases as a result of that project she has no conflict. Having participated in this process as your “Admin” does it’s a regular occurance. Keller did not profit off of a project she voted on.

    To claim she is unethical for this reason is to claim that any council member that sits on a charity board and solicits donations from businesses in town is unethical.

    Your claims are false and an afront to anyone looming to build or do business in any town and provide money to those charities that do hood work in town. You call it influence peddling, I call it participating in the communities where a developed is investing significant dollars.

  7. #7 by Fullerton Rudy on September 30, 2009

    If you can’t see the problem #6 then you must be just about the only one. She refuses your money for her campaign and then turns around and solicits it for her employer (the Collaborative)? Without donors there is no Collaborative, without the Collaborative Keller goes back to being just another school teacher (or whatever it was she did) instead of a bigshot “Executive Director.”

    And yes #6 any city council member who sits on a “charity board” and solicits contributions from people doing business before the City Council IS unethical!

    The Collaborative ought to disassociate itself from FSD immediately. They might Save some money. And Keller ought to quit saying she doesn’t take developer’s money when does take it for her Collaborative.

    And BTW, #6, if Keller did nothing wrong, why did the Collaborative decide to suddenly start scrutinizing donations?

  8. #8 by The Fullerton Shadow on September 30, 2009

    “looming to do business”

    That’s precious! A perfect description of the Amerige Court and Jefferson Commons monsters!

    Naw, Steve Sheldon would never try to influence peddle, right? He just gives people cruises around Newport Harbor as away to “invest in the community”! What a guy.

    Really, #6, I was hoping for a little bit better effort from Pam’s die-hard acolytes.

  9. #9 by Kevin Smith on September 30, 2009

    Another Developer, you are right, however, a gift or a donation to a nonprofit is just that a “gift”. When the gift that is given is greater than $250.00 it must be reported as a gift.

    And the city council member that received the gift whether it went to paint a childs face or to the salary of the person who received or solicited the gift can not vote on a project brought forth by the gift giver.

    That’s were this thing gets messy.

  10. #10 by A Friend on September 30, 2009

    Fullerton Rudy :if Keller did nothing wrong, why did the Collaborative decide to suddenly start scrutinizing donations?

    Now that is a VERY important question!

  11. #11 by Travis Kiger on September 30, 2009

    After meeting with the Chairman and the Treasurer, it’s clear to me that the board members are very passionate about the work that the Collaborative is doing.

    Unfortunately, they are also very naive about money, influence and politics, failing to acknowledge how these donations could influence a city councilmember’s vote on some very important projects.

    It should be clear to most ethically-aware observers that allowing a donor to influence council votes behind the veil of a 501(c)(3) donation is not appropriate, especially to a candidate who promised to free from the persuasion of outside developers.

  12. #12 by Kevin Smith on September 30, 2009

    Travis will the Collaborative continue to accept $ from Developers?

  13. #13 by Brick Veneer on September 30, 2009

    Another Developer :
    Could it be that your very own “Admin” was a participant in this dirty practice of giving money to support local non profits?
    You are all barking a bit too far up the conspiracy tree. Most developers as a matter of getting a project approved invest funding into local non profits. These developers did so to participate in Faces if Fullerton and reach community members.


    Your claims are false and an afront to anyone looming to build or do business in any town and provide money to those charities that do hood work in town. You call it influence peddling, I call it participating in the communities where a developed is investing significant dollars.

    Oops, I think we just found an idea for a new series of hard hitting blogs…

    Who is Admin?
    What and to whom has Admin donated to?
    Is the real problem politicians, developers or simply the wrong politicians and the wrong developers?

  14. #14 by Travis Kiger on October 1, 2009

    Kevin, the Collaborative board said that they would now require donations to be scrutinized before they are accepted.

    I took this as a subtle admission that the Board should have been paying more attention to Pam’s fundraising activities.

  15. #15 by admin on October 1, 2009

    I donate and invest into people and causes that I believe might be good for Fullerton’s future and will continue to do so.

    Tony Bushala

  16. #16 by The Fullerton Harpoon on October 1, 2009

    Before this story fades into obscurity, let’s also remember the particiption of City Departments and employees as suggested by commenters on other posts.

  17. #17 by ditdit on October 1, 2009

    Let’s follow that logic one step further:

    The Board thinks they should have been paying more attention because they know that what Pam did was WRONG.

  18. #18 by Anonymous on October 1, 2009

    I’m just wondering how much the board members as well as those organization who attend Collaborative meetings knew how they were being played for shills.

  19. #19 by McFLY ON THE WALL on October 6, 2009

    admin :I donate and invest into people and causes that I believe might be good for Fullerton’s future and will continue to do so.
    Tony Bushala

    Tony, Your right the Fullerton Collaborative is good for Fullertons Future, I agree, but I know thats not what you meant.

  20. #20 by The Fullerton Shadow on October 6, 2009

    McFly, the Collaborative might be good for Fullerton’s Future, especially if it can ever wean itself off public money; but until its Executive Director 1) gets off the public payroll, and 2) quits taking money from the developers whose projects she votes to approve, it will be nothing but a vehicle for Pam Keller to promote herself.

    Now go put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Comments are closed.