This podcast is a sort of companion piece to a story I’ve got out in this week’s News and Review. “KJ Inc.” is an attempt to explain–as succinctly as I can–some of the problems presented by mayor Kevin Johnson’s network of non-profit organizations, starting with the seldom-talked about Sacramento Public Policy Foundation.
These groups allow the mayor to raise unlimited amounts of money from big donors–much of it secretly. See below for documents showing all of the donations to the mayor and council member via “behested” payments for the last 7 years. Most council members raise money in this way for established charities. The mayor is different, raising more than a million dollars for his own organization–which is controlled by him.
The mayor has also managed to leverage a certain amount of free labor and office space for his non-profits, courtesy of the taxpayer. Despite the gift of public resources, some of the people who run the mayor’s operation–like Chris Tapio and Kunal Merchant–don’t feel obliged to answer any questions about what they do.
And it’s all legal.
I hope you’ll read the story, it’s not short. And listen to the podcast, it is short. And I hope the City Manager, John Shirey, will soon decide one way or the other whether he thinks it’s ok for the mayor to use City Hall to support his own private organizations in this way.
Thanks Isaac, for sitting down and talking with me about the story, and for all the other stuff you do.