The Holland Family Alliance committee has raised more than $375,000 in three months, making it the largest economic influence ahead of San Luis Obispo County's June 5 election.
The group has more money in the bank than any single candidate committee and has contributed more money to the election than any other entity, according to donor statements filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission on Thursday.
Its full name is The Holland Family Alliance for Humane Mental Health & Correctional Reform, and it was formed by the family of Andrew Holland — a mentally ill man who died after spending nearly two full days in a restraint chair while in custody at the SLO County Jail — with the express purpose of influencing the June election.
"We are looking to support those people who have shown us they can get behind mental health reform," said Tavenor "Tave" Holland, chief officer of the committee and Andrew Holland's cousin.
So far, the alliance has infused cash donations into both county Board of Supervisor races and the sheriff's race. The committee and individual Holland family members have also made donations in the district attorney's race.
The family received a $5 million settlement from the county following Holland's death. In addition to creating the political committee, it also created a charity called the Andrew Holland Foundation, which Tave Holland called, "a non-political charity organization that cares about mental health and treatment reform."
How much money does the committee have?
The committee received $375,820 since it formed in February. After major donations to three candidates, paying for polling and survey research and other expenditures, including a $1,000 payment to Facebook, it still has $256,682 on hand.
That's more than incumbent Sheriff Ian Parkinson, who received contributions valuing $253,965 this year and still has $129,280 in the bank.
The bulk of the Holland Family Alliance committee's funds came from Andrew Holland's father, home builder Albert Carty Holland, who contributed $350,000. The remainder comes from 22 other donors, most of whom, Tave Holland said, are close friends or family.
Whether all that money will be spent in the next seven weeks before ballots are due June 5 is yet to be seen, as is how the committee plans to spend it.
"At this point, I'm unable to say whether that will go beyond the primary," Tave Holland said. "Most of the races we're concerned about are likely to be resolved in the primary."
Who received contributions?
The largest contribution made by the committee was $40,000 on Feb. 28 to Jimmy Paulding, a District 4 supervisor candidate working to unseat incumbent Lynn Compton.
Greg Clayton, who is challenging Parkinson to become sheriff, received $10,000 on Feb. 27.
Incumbent District 2 supervisor candidate Bruce Gibson received $3,500 on March 6.
The committee paid $25,546 to Austin, Texas-based Baselice & Associates to conduct polling. It paid $1,000 to Facebook, which Tave Holland said "was used to boost stories" posted on the Holland Family Alliance Facebook page.
"We're trying to get the word out about what happened here (in the county). We want people to understand there was a homicide, there was a coverup that is still being covered up to this day," he said.
The donation to Gibson confounded some observers because the Holland family has expressed a desire to unseat incumbents who they say contributed to a coverup.
"It is complicated and probably hard to understand because we've had a lot of private interactions (with elected officials) that the public doesn't see," Tave Holland said.
"I don't think any of the supervisors handled the situation very well," he said. "Bruce has come to us and said he wishes there would have been a different outcome and wishes it could have been handled differently."
All those candidates could receive more money from the committee.
There are no contribution limits. According to the FPPC, the "Political Reform Act does not contain contribution limits for local candidates, but provides that cities and counties may adopt contribution limits applicable to their elections."San Luis Obispo County has no local rules, according to a campaign committee informational manual.