The family of Andrew Holland, the 36-year-old former Atascadero resident who died in San Luis Obispo County Jail in January 2017, announced Wednesday that they donated $40,000 to Jimmy Paulding's campaign to unseat District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton in the June election.
The announcement answers a question South County residents have been asking for weeks about the mysterious major donation. It also triggered a series of statements issued by the candidates.
In February, Paulding announced on Facebook that "an individual in our community who believes in our vision" offered to donate $40,000 if he could raise matching donations from the community.
He declined to say who the donor was, prompting criticism from Compton supporters that he wasn't being transparent. Another match donation of $10,000 a few days later was from supporter Dan Cook, Paulding said Wednesday.
The large cash infusion into Paulding's campaign came from the Holland Family Alliance, a group of family members and friends who have thrown their support to San Luis Obispo County candidates in an attempt to unseat a handful of local elected officials — donating $25,000 each to candidates challenging Sheriff Ian Parkinson and District Attorney Dan Dow. The family says Parkinson and Dow mishandled and attempted to cover up Holland's death after he was strapped to a restraint chair for 46 consecutive hours before dying of an embolism shortly after being released. (Supervisor Bruce Gibson has also received $3,500 from the Holland family for his re-election campaign.)
The Hollands don't have a significant presence in the South County district.
"We are supporting Jimmy Paulding because he is an honest man, and wants to see justice just as much as we do. Even though we are a longstanding Republican family and traditionally vote accordingly, Lynn Compton has failed our family and our community," Carty Holland, Andrew's father, said in a news release.
The Hollands allege that Compton misled the public by classifying Andrew's case as "medical malpractice" and made no effort to correct the record after she saw video footage from the jail released in a report by The Tribune, "opting instead to provide political cover for Sheriff Parkinson and District Attorney Dan Dow."
"This is a classic example of elected officials placing patronage over people. What kind of Republican ignores the primary function of government, to project the lives of the citizens?" the release says.
In response to the criticism, Compton said she's worked with county elected officials and department heads "to implement reforms intended to prevent similar incidents from occurring."
"The Holland family suffered a tragic loss," Compton said in an email to The Tribune. "However, after I voted to implement these reforms and pay a $5 million medical malpractice insurance settlement to the Holland family, I find it disconcerting that the Holland Family Alliance would make a $40,000 contribution to my political opponent and question my commitment to serving the constituents of the 4th District."
She said voters should be concerned that her opponent chose to withhold the identity of a campaign donor until only after the publication of a letter to the editor was published on the topic in The Tribune.
"This cloaking of a massive campaign contribution represents anything but the 'transparency' he invokes," she said.
Paulding told The Tribune that the decision of when to name the donor was left to the Hollands.
"I left it to them. It's their story to tell," Paulding said.
Legally, he said, he was not required to report it.
Donations of $1,000 or more are required to be reported along with the donor's name within 24 hours only in the 90-day period before an election, which began March 7.
Paulding told The Tribune "it wasn't planned" that he receive the donation on March 5, just days before that period began. He said he deposited the donation after March 5.
In all, the fundraising effort in February and early March helped Paulding raise more than $112,000 in a two-and-a-half-week period, the release says.
Update, 9:45 p.m.:
Paulding issued a statement on the Holland Family Alliance donation late Wednesday night, saying he is "deeply disturbed by what happened to Andrew Holland."
“The Hollands believe that my opponent Lynn Compton participated in a coverup of Andrew Holland’s death at the county jail," he wrote in the statement. "They support me because they believe I will act in the best interests of everyone in our community — with complete accountability — and not be beholden to party agenda or special interests."
Paulding also elaborated on why he did not name the Hollands as the source of a major donation prior to now, a decision that his opponent Supervisor Lynn Compton questioned Wednesday, saying it lacked transparency.
"Out of respect for the Holland family, I left it up to them to make the decision as to when they felt comfortable publicly disclosing their support for me," he said. "Although I have acted in complete accordance with the law, Lynn Compton claims I was not transparent because I did not immediately disclose the Holland family’s donation, choosing instead to respect their wishes. However, it is Compton who is full of hypocrisy because — while she claims to stand on some high horse — she herself has not disclosed any of her large donors within the same timeframe. If the voters want transparency, vote Compton out.”
Neither Compton nor Paulding have filed documents for large donations in the period between Dec. 31, 2017 (the last date covered by the most recent 2017 semi-annual campaign finance report filing) and March 7, the start of the 90-day period in which candidates must file donations in excess of $1,000 within 24-hours of being received.
Donations from this time are included in the candidate's first pre-election finance statement due on April 26.
This effectively leaves a two-month span of potential donations neither candidate has yet to officially disclose.
Paulding has said he received a $10,000 donation from supporter Dan Cook in February, followed by the $40,000 Holland donation on March 5.
In an email response to The Tribune on Wednesday night, Compton said her campaign complies with all applicable finance disclosure regulations and will file its next pre-election statement on April 26.
“After promoting on his website and social media that his campaign would receive a single contribution equal to more than 83 percent of his total monetary contributions raised in all of 2017, my opponent is attempting to dodge the concerns of 4th District voters about what that means for them," she wrote. "The issue is not the amount. The facts are that one donor represents an overwhelming portion of my opponent’s contributions, and my opponent was unwilling to identify his donor until voters’ concerns were published in a Tribune Letter to the Editor. Voters in the 4th District are rightly alarmed."
She added: "No single donor of mine represents remotely as large a percentage of contributions received as the Holland Family Alliance does for my opponent.”
Paulding, a planner and project manager, announced in August that he would run against Compton, a business owner who is part of a conservative majority on the Board of Supervisors.
Correction: A previous version of the story inaccurately identified Compton's profession.