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State Assembly battles lead to split of Democratic campaign firm

March 21, 2013|By Anthony York
  • Former Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Vallejo)
Former Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Vallejo) (Rich Pedroncelli )

A pair of divisive California Assembly races that each pit Democratic candidates against each other has led to the end of a nationally renowned Democratic campaign firm.

The tale, first reported in Roll Call, centers on the defeat of two California Democratic incumbents last fall: Assemblywoman Betsey Butler (D-Santa Monica) and Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Vallejo). Both were beaten by Democratic challengers.

The firm “Mack|Crounse employed a staff of 13 people, and competitors estimate that the firm generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue each cycle,” writes Roll Call’s Abby Livingston. “It worked for 19 current members of Congress, 12 state parties and nearly every labor, environmental and women’s group in politics.”

The partnership disbanded after revelations that one of the partners, Jim Crounse, produced a series of mail pieces attacking the Democratic incumbents -- both of whom had the support of some of the firm’s other clients.

Though the firm did work for a number of labor unions, Crounse produced mailers attacking both Butler and Allen for their support of legislation backed by the United Farm Workers. The attacks were funded in part by the Western Growers Assn.

Kevin Mack said he had no knowledge of what Crounse was up to, and disbanded the firm after learning of his partner’s involvement in the mailers against Butler and Allen.

“Colossal mistakes were made on the other side of a firewall,” Mack told Roll Call. “I was blindsided by this a month or so ago. Those mistakes left me no choice but to split the firm.”


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