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Endeavour Capital-backed referendum to reverse California bail reform is certified, delaying law

February 4, 2019

Private equity firm Endeavour Capital recently drew media attention after an affiliate, Triton Management Services LLC, contributed nearly $800,000 to an effort to overturn California’s recent landmark legislation to reform the state’s bail system.  Triton, which is majority-owned by Endeavour Capital Fund VI, was by far the largest contributor to the political committee opposing the California law intended to help the poor.

Media coverage:

–        LA Times, Jan 16, 2019: “California’s historic overhaul of cash bail is now on hold, pending a 2020 referendum”

–        Washington Post, Oct 29, 2018: “Private-equity money backs an effort to overturn California law intended to help the poor”

The new law has put California at the forefront of a national push to stop courts from imposing a heavy financial burden on defendants who have not been convicted of a crime.

On January 16, 2019, California elections officials certified that Endeavour Capital-funded referendum to roll back the reform had collected enough signatures to qualify for November 2020 ballot.

While the California bail reform law had been scheduled to take effect in October 2019, the referendum will delay implementation of the law until after the November 2020 vote.

Endeavour Capital owns Aladdin Bail Bonds, one of the largest bail bond companies in California.

In late August, just days after California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bail reform legislation into law, Endeavour Capital affiliate Triton Management Services contributed $794,331 to the committee opposing the law, more than a quarter of total contributions the committee has received.

In October, the Washington Post reported that the Endeavour Capital-funded coalition had hired paid signature collectors and was spending $3.25 per signature.  At that rate, Endeavour Capital’s nearly $800,000 contribution would have paid for as many as 42% (244,410 of 576,745) of the signatures that the coalition submitted.

Endeavour Capital’s role in funding the effort to roll back California’s bail reform law has drawn scrutiny from California legislators.

“We know that private equity firms poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into this campaign — not to protect public safety, or decrease the number of innocent people in jail, but to protect their bottom line,” California State Senator Bob Herzberg, one of the authors of the reform, told the Los Angeles Times.

Rather than taking responsibility for its actions, Endeavour has sought to hide behind the portfolio company it controls.  John E. von Schlegell, Endeavour Capital co-founder and Aladdin Bail Bonds director, in 2018 told the Washington Post, “The companies we invest in determine their own advocacy on issues…”

Will Endeavour Capital spend millions more of its investors’ money to roll back California bail reform law?

A bail industry coalition in January told the San Jose Mercury News that they expected to spend anywhere between $5 million and $15 million on the referendum campaign ahead of the 2020 vote.

If Endeavour Capital and/or Triton Management Services funds the same share of the referendum campaign as it has of the signature gathering to put the referendum on the ballot (26.5%), it could end up spending another $1.3 to $4 million dollars on the effort, in addition to the $794,000 it has already contributed.

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