Follow the Money

See Who Recently Contributed Sums To Elect Al Austin To State Senate is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Feb 5, 2019, 7:55 a.m.) -- As part of's "Follow the Money" coverage, we report below some salient recent contributors to Councilman Al Austin's steadily pursued (since 2017) but abruptly aborted state Senate candidacy (Feb. 1 coverage here.)

As recently as Jan. 30, Councilman Austin sent an email seeking contributions for what he described as a "sprint to the election." He'd been endorsed by Vice Mayor Dee Andrews, LB Councilmembers Suzie Price and Daryl Supernaw, former LB Vice Mayors Doris Topsy Elvord and Val Lerch, LB Airport Commissioner Wayne Chaney Sr., LB Chamber President John Howard, among others. He'd begun raising funds in the second half of 2017 to pursue the state Senate seat that would become open in 2020 when state Senator Ricardo Lara's term expired or in 2019 if Lara were elected Insurance Commissioner in Nov. 2018.

But in September 2017, with the City Council divided 4-4, Councilman Austin cast a fateful 5-4 deciding vote that prevented passage of an ordinance ("Claudia's Law") sought by the UniteHere union representing hotel workers and opposed by hotel owners/management. Austin is employed by the American Fed'n of State, County and Municipal Employees (a public employee union) and his vote angered other organized labor interests,

When Sen. Lara was elected Insurance Commissioner, Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, who strongly supported the hotel workers ordinance, announced her candidacy for the state Senate seat and proceeded to roll-out endorsements gathered from immediate-past state Senator Lara, LB Mayor Garcia and LB Councilmembers Pearce, Richardson and Uranga (the latter three having also voted for the hotel worker ordinance.)'s Follow the Money coverage here shows Gonzalez's early state Senate campaign contributors included multiple contributions from organized labor.

[Scroll down for further.]

After Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez announced her entry into the state Senate race (Dec. 14), the individuals and entities listed below were among those who contributed sums to Councilman Austin's state Senate campaign.

Dec. 15, 2018Gary DeLong (3d. dist LB Councilman 2006-2014)$1,000
Dec. 21, 2018Kambiz Babaoff (Managing Dir. Ensemble Investments)$4,400
Jan. 29, 2019Intex Properties South Bay Corp$1,000
Dec. 30, 2018American Fed'n of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 57 PAC$4,400
Dec. 30, 2018E.M.E., Inc. (Compton)$500
Jan. 30, 2019Janet Watt [daughter of Dr. C. David Molina, owns Little Owl School]$4,700

On January 17, 2019, Councilman Austin transferred $33,616 he'd collected since late 2017 from his 2020 State Senate committee to a recently established 2019 State Senate committee, giving him a warchest competitive with what Councilwoman Gonzalez had raised to that date.

On Feb. 1, 2019, Councilman Al Austin announced his decision not to continue to campaign for the state Senate seat, issuing a statement in which he conspicuously didn't endorse any other specific candidate. "[W]ith several good Democratic candidates in the race it is clear the cities of the 33rd District will be well-represented in the State Senate," his statement said.'s inquiries to the CA Secretary of State's office and the L.A. County/Registrar Recorder's office leave us uncertain whether Councilman Austin's name will or won't appear on the March 26 ballot. It is certain that the Secretary of State's office will announce its list of ballot candidates tomorrow (Feb. 6).

In November 2018, LB voters approved LB Charter Amendment BBB in November 2018 that now gives Councilman Austin the opportunity to seek a third LB Council term in 2020 without a write-in requirement. On Jan.22, 2018, Tunua Thrash-Ntuk (the spouse of LBCC Trustee Uduak-Joe Ntuk) announced that she plans to seek the 8th dist. Council seat in 2020.






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