Mall Wars

The Contra Costa Times reports on an interesting conflict between mall owners.

A mysterious entity has shelled out thousands of dollars on mailers, robocalls, a referendum and a lawsuit in a campaign to squash Broadway Plaza owner Macerich’s deal to open a Neiman Marcus. 

Whether campaign finance disclosure laws will shed light on this mystery is also an open question.

In theory, any entity or person that contributes $5,000 or more toward the qualification, passage or defeat of a ballot measure — even if it never makes it onto the ballot — must file as a major donor. The next filing deadline is Feb. 2.

The cost alone of hiring the petition signature-gatherers — about 5,000 signatures at $3 to $6 apiece adds up to at least $15,000 — almost certainly exceeds that threshold.

But campaign finance is a legal minefield and no one knows better how to negotiate its tortured path than Thomas Hiltachk, the attorney who personally filed the referendum in Walnut Creek.

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