Money for nothing

Bakery associate received public matching funds but didn't document spending
|
(0)

news@sfbg.com

Nedir Bey, a close confidant of the late Your Black Muslim Bakery founder Yusuf Bey, received public funds for his anemic 2002 run for the Oakland City Council but faced little scrutiny from election officials for suspect political contributions and spending.

The discovery appears to be one more example of the Bey empire's alleged scams and schemes uncovered by the Chauncey Bailey Project since the eponymous journalist's August 2007 murder, which law enforcement sources have linked to the bakery.

For five years the Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento sat on a request to investigate alleged campaign finance irregularities committed by Nedir Bey — who owes the city of Oakland $1.5 million in another matter — then dropped the probe because too much time had elapsed.

Bey ran for the Oakland City Council's District 4 seat in March 2002 but got only 268 votes. He received $14,178 in public matching funds for his campaign despite questions raised by the head of Oakland's Public Ethics Commission about the sources of the candidate's contributions.

In August 2007, however, the FPPC sent a letter to Bey announcing it would not be taking any action against him, "given the age of this case and our current enforcement priorities." Bey refused to comment on any of the main points in this article.

FPPC spokesperson Roman Porter said he could not say why the investigation lagged as long as it did, other than to say that a former enforcement official refrained from pursuing the case. Porter said the official closed a large number of cases to decrease a backlog, but Bey's wasn't one of them.

A new chairman and enforcement team came on board last year, but by that time the statute of limitations had already expired on two of the matters contained in Oakland's complaint and there wasn't enough time left to investigate the third matter before the statute of limitations ran out, Porter said.

Oakland's Public Ethics Commission executive director, Dan Purnell, passed the case to Sacramento instead of completing the investigation locally. City law gives the Public Ethics Commission the sole authority for civil enforcement of the Limited Public Financing Act, which contains regulations for disbursing matching funds.

Purnell suspected irregularities in Bey's campaign expenditures as early as January 2002, 10 months before he asked the state FPPC to initiate an investigation.

The March 2002 election was the first in Oakland to offer public financing to candidates who agreed to abide by voluntary spending limits. Candidates in the election could qualify for up to $14,700 in matching public funds from a special account established by the city to help defray the cost of running for office.

Matched contributions had to be $100 or less. The Committee to Elect Nedir Bey reported it had raised a total of $14,517, of which $14,178 was eligible for matching funds. The campaign reported it spent a total of $39,741 on the election.

Documents obtained from the FPPC through a public records request show that of 145 contributions, 123 were made with $99 money orders with sequential numbers, all apparently purchased from the same location over a four-day period between Jan. 14 and 18, 2002. Only 22 donations to Bey's campaign were written on personal checks.

Purnell asked Bey prior to disbursing the matching funds if the money orders were purchased at the same time in bundles and if anyone other than the donor had purchased them. Bey declined to comment for this story, but he explained to Purnell at the time that the donors were transported to the store en masse to buy the money orders, and he promised no one else had obtained them for the donors.

Also from this author

  • How Oakland's fearful politicos enabled waste: Part III

    Political, racial pressure pays off for the bakery

  • How Oakland's fearful politicos enabled waste: Part 1

    How the bakery's $1 million vanished. Along with loan from city, pledges to help community disappeared.

  • 'He's not going anywhere'

    Newly available documents expose what happened to a man shot 16 times by SFPD officers two years ago