Two of the three newly elected members to the City Council each spent about $50,000 to garner their seats, according to the latest campaign contribution and expense reports filed with the city clerk.
John Taylor spent $51,992 campaigning—that's more than the other two new councilmen, Derek Reeve, who spent $3,192, and Larry Kramer, who cited $50,196 in expenditures.
Nearly half of the $48,152 in contributions Kramer received were in three loans totaling $20,000 from himself. He also collected $250 from Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, $250 from Fred's Ortega Tack and Feed, $250 from former Mayor Joe Soto, $250 from former City Councilman Tom Hribar and $100 from Miles Brandon, president of Capistrano VW, who also made a contribution to Taylor's campaign.
The sales manager at Capistrano VW, Nicolas A. Colucci, also donated to Taylor's campaign, as did top executives at Rancho Mission Viejo, whose contributions totaled $700.
Taylor is a businessman who ran his campaign on a platform of being pro-development. In his response to questions asked by the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce and published in a voter guide, he said he wanted to attract big-box stores and car dealerships to the city to increase tax revenues and create jobs.
"I think over the years San Juan Capistrano has become known as a no-development city. We have to reach out to national companies and let them know that we are business-friendly, and we want them in our town and we want them to succeed," he wrote in the guide.
He ultimately received $51,197 in contributions ($15,000 of which was a loan from himself). He did not reply to a request for comment to this article.
Other well-known names in the San Juan Capistrano area donated to Taylor's campaign. Among them are Daniel and Natalie Friees from Friess Property Company and Kenneth Friess from Friess Construction; Mayor Sam Allevato; and Kevin Baldridge, the senior vice president of the Irvine Co.
The California Fair Political Practice Commission does not consider campaign contributions to be conflicts of interest because council members do not profit from the donations. But Reeve said he did not accept any outside contributions in order to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest.