Who owns Sue Frost?
Sacramento County supervisor who supported sheriff’s stand against oversight and no-cause evictions rakes in contributions from law enforcement and developers
Bridget Duffy doesn’t have any great hope that her fifth run for public office will be the charm.
“Winning one of these races would be a sheer miracle,” Duffy admitted.
The 60-year-old housewife has deliberately raised no money and has few endorsements in challenging Sue Frost, the District 4 incumbent on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.
As for Frost, the former Citrus Heights councilwoman hasn’t stopped raising money since winning her county seat in 2016. As of Feb. 5, Frost had raised $303,797 in individual contributions, according to online campaign filing data. That’s more than any current board candidate.
What are Frost’s array of donors hoping to get in return for financially supporting a candidate with no real competition? Good question.
In wide-ranging District 4, which covers much of northeastern Sacramento County, no one person or business has given deeply to Frost, who didn’t respond to an interview request. She’s collected more than 600 donations as of Feb. 5, with the largest topping out at $5,000 from the California Real Estate Political Action Committee. Those who’ve given most represent a slew of powerful development, real estate and law enforcement interests.
Frost’s donors include the political action committee for the California Apartment Association, which has contributed $3,500.
“The stakes are certainly high this year for California’s rental housing industry,” notes the website for the association, which didn’t respond to a request for comment. “In 2020, we can expect a radical rent control measure back on the statewide ballot, an emboldened tenants’ movement at the state and local level, and the prospects of another blue wave in the California Legislature.”
The PAC gave Frost $1,000 in August 2016, another $150 last June and $2,350 on Jan. 26, less than three months after Frost controversially voted against barring no-fault evictions.
Duffy became inspired to run after that vote.
“I was at a meeting as a citizen, just doing my duty, and I watched her vote not to protect people from eviction,” Duffy told SN&R. “I was outraged.”
Frost has also received $3,000 from the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association as well as a unanimous endorsement from its board, which backed Folsom Councilman Mike Kozlowski against her in 2016.
Asked what makes Frost an attractive candidate to law enforcement, association president Kevin Mickelson said Frost supported county law enforcement agencies. Then he acknowledged another factor.
“Primarily, every budget cycle, the sheriff’s department is the largest item that the board has discretionary powers over,” Mickelson said. “If there are any other hot button topics that people are going to want to fund, there’s really only three places that they can take that money from: the district attorney, the probation department or the sheriff’s department.”
The $2.78 billion budget that the board adopted in September included $276.4 million for the Sheriff’s Office, $66.9 million for probation and $62.5 million for the DA’s office.
The political action committee for the Sacramento County Probation Association has given $4,000 to Frost’s campaign.
Frost has supported law enforcement, including when Sheriff Scott Jones forced out independent oversight of his office in 2018. “I know many law enforcement officers,” Frost wrote in a Sacramento Bee op-ed. “Most are dedicated public servants who do heroic, dangerous jobs.”
Asked why his union would still give money to Frost if she’d already raised so much, Mickelson said it’s not clear who might run against a candidate—even though his group gave $2,500 one day after the filing deadline for candidates to enter the race.
“My opinion is—and I tell everybody that asks me my opinion—you run like your life depends on it,” Mickelson said. “The people who get lazy and don’t are the people that lose.”
Aside from law enforcement and real estate, developers round out Frost’s core supporters, with Angelo Tsakopoulos and groups close to him having given at least $4,950. The Committee for Home Ownership of the North State Building Industry Association, a highly influential group in local elections, and Easton Development LLC have each contributed $4,000.
The five county supervisors frequently vote on land-use decisions.
While Duffy is in an uphill fight, she said everyone in the county would benefit from her leadership.
“To me, I’m wanting to demonstrate that we do still have a mechanism for democracy in the United States and if we wanted to, maybe we could overcome the amount of money that I’m facing if we had a people movement,” she said.