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Due to Maloof taint, political operatives quit anti-arena Sacramento petition drive

Tab Berg and Paul Olsen have pulled their work for the anti-arena petition drive in Sacramento, leaving the proposed initiative's future in jeopardy. Because of the Maloofs.


We haven't covered the STOP initiative drive to kill the Sacramento Kings arena at all. So first, an explanation.

1. We just finished three years of daily reporting/commentary on non-basketball topics. What a relief to be able to focus primarily on the sport! (Welp.)

2. We (editorial staff) don't support the proposed initiative or the group pushing it. For a while there, it looked seriously underfunded, so it needed all the publicity it could get. Why would we, a Sacramento Kings blog, give it to them?

3. I was legitimately hoping the whole thing would disappear in a poof of smoke.

That said, Friday's developments were ... big. The group (which includes Region Builders and Crown Downtown) has been pushing for disclosure from the petition drive on where the funding is coming from. No one seems to know or want to say. Finally this week the arena advocates made a complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission. That hasn't yet been resolved, but The Bee's digging turned up some pretty incredible information.

The push to derail Sacramento's arena plan was thrown into disarray Friday, when it was revealed a Los Angeles law firm that represents the Maloof family wired $80,000 to the campaign. [...]

Loeb & Loeb, the law firm that represented the Maloof family in failed attempts to move the Sacramento Kings to Anaheim and Seattle, gave a Tulare-based campaign consultant $80,000 to pay for signature gatherers working on a petition drive for an arena ballot measure, the consultant said in a statement emailed to the media.

Now L&L is a huge firm. And the Maloofs are denying any involvement. But Loeb & Loeb also hasn't made the proper filings with the city or state on who supplied that $80,000 -- it's unlikely that the law firm would be funding the project of its own volition -- and isn't commenting. So the mere suggestion of Maloofian taint is enough to lead to ...

[Consultant Paul] Olson and Sacramento political consultant Tab Berg said in a joint press release that they were cutting ties with the campaign. Their resignations came two days after a complaint was filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission alleging that the signature campaign had not properly reported donations and expenditures.

"I have broken no laws, and I am not going to stand in front of those who refuse to take responsibility to try to throw my colleagues or I under the bus," Berg said in an emailed statement that appeared alongside Olson's comments.

That's a well-known, well-respected local consultant refusing to get that taint on him.

At some point, the source of that $80,000 will be known. I honestly can't totally rule out the possibility that the Maloofs are somehow involved. And that -- the mere possibility -- is throwing the anti-arena campaign into upheaval. Pretty amazing.

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