Registrar of Voters and Republicans Accused of Mailing GOP Campaign Literature at Taxpayers’ Expense

by on April 23, 2010 · 4 comments

in Civil Rights, San Diego

By Staff / San Diego Gay & Lesbian News /April 22, 2010

The San Diego County Democratic Party (SDCDP) Wednesday named the County Registrar of Voters and the Republican Party as conspirators in a legal violation regarding postage subsidies.

The SDCDP plans to report the violation to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

The SDCDP alleges that the County Registrar of Voters, at taxpayer expense, will insert partisan campaign literature into the official sample ballots mailed to Republican voters next month.

An obscure section of the state Elections Code allows a county party organization to pay to include a fundraising letter in the voter guide sent to that party’s voters.

However, according to the SDCDP, the San Diego Republican Party is exceeding the scope of the law, in a way unprecedented in California, by placing a full-color page with its slate of endorsements directly into the booklet that will be mailed at taxpayer expense.

Furthermore, the SDCDP alleges that through their County Counsel, the all-Republican County Board of Supervisors authorized the Republican insert.

After a recent lawsuit supported by the Democratic Party, a San Diego judge forced the Republicans to alter the format of their campaign insert, but allowed them to include it because they are paying for the additional cost of printing.

An appeal, while likely, will come too late to affect the printing schedule.

However, the court did not address a different law under FPPC Regulations that requires government agencies paying for campaign-related communications to report the value of their expenditure as a contribution.

According to the SDCDP, the Republican Party would have to pay about $50,000 in postage alone to send its slate mailer to the voters who will receive the insert. Instead, the party and its campaigns won’t pay a dime in postage, thus the benefit they will be receiving is a clearly reportable contribution from the Registrar of Voters.

“If the county government is now in the business of sending partisan propaganda under its official seal, it must register as a campaign committee and report those contributions under California law like any other committee,” said Jess Durfee, chair of the SDCDP.

“The intrusion of partisan politics into government-funded activity is not only an affront to the other candidates and propositions that will be on the ballot in these nonpartisan races,” Durfee said. “It is an outrage to the voters and taxpayers of San Diego County and a sickening blow to the integrity of our election system. We will pursue every recourse until it is stopped.”

To view the Republican campaign insert, click here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar JMW April 24, 2010 at 10:46 am

Isn’t this a little bit overblown? According to my reading and state law referred to in the article, California sanctions the inclusion of “a fundraising letter in the voter guide sent to that party’s voters.” So if the SD County Republican Party takes advantage of this opportunity, what’s the problem? That we don’t like the SDCRP?
The SDCDP allegation is that the SDCRP exceeds the scope of the law. Does the law include a description of what constitutes an acceptable fundraising letter? Is it narrowly defined as a typewritten plea for funds on one side of an 8.5×11 sheet?
Three “So whats”: 1) The County Board of Supervisors authorized the Republican insert. 2) The Court allowed the SDCRP to reprint the piece. 3) “An appeal, while likely, will come too late to affect the printing schedule.”
A misrepresentation or simple error: The insert is not “full color” according to commercial printing terminology. It is three color. Full color would mean it looked like a color photograph. Clearly, not the case here.
“… government agencies paying for campaign-related communications…” The state law cited authorized “campaign-related communications” in the form or a “voter guide” mailed to the voters of “that party.”
I’m almost going to ignore “$50,000 in postage alone,” (alone? What else would they be expected to pay for?) “partisan propaganda,” (We’re talking about a voter guide mailed to voters of one party. Partisan by definition. Propaganda? A slate.)
“…a sickening blow to the integrity of our election system.” Please cut it out.

Reply

avatar Frank Gormlie April 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

Re-read this: “… the Republican Party would have to pay about $50,000 in postage alone to send its slate mailer to the voters who will receive the insert. Instead, the party and its campaigns won’t pay a dime in postage, thus the benefit they will be receiving is a clearly reportable contribution from the Registrar of Voters.” So, we the taxpayers have to pick up this tab of $50K and you choose to ignore that??? This is for a County that just sent out 200-300 pink slips to County workers??

Plus the included document is way more than a simple fund-raising letter, it is a full-blown 3 color campaign literature telling the voter how to vote, and who the local GOP endorses. Look the integrity of our election system is already weak, and you feel it’s okay to weaken it even more. Go back to the desert, my friend. And back to the country that doesn’t even have elections. Oops, you’re already there. LOL

Reply

avatar JMW April 24, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Did you not see this: “An obscure section of the state Elections Code allows a county party organization to pay to include a fundraising letter in the voter guide sent to that party’s voters.” Assuming you did see it, then are you choosing to ignore it?
Is the SDCRP refusing to “pay to include” the insert? If yes, then certainly, that is worthy of exposure. However, that information is not included in the post. Or is your complaint that the insert is not “simple” enough to suit you? If yes, then back to these questions from my original post: “Does the law include a description of what constitutes an acceptable fundraising letter? Is it narrowly defined as a typewritten plea for funds on one side of an 8.5×11 sheet?” I guess I should have included: Printed in black ink. Again, this information is not included in the post.
As to the insert going beyond a “simple” fundraising letter: I don’t see the word “simple” in the citation.
I don’t dispute that the insert does not resemble the image seen in my mind’s eye when I hear the word “letter.” I don’t dispute that the insert is a “slate.” I don’t dispute that a slate is a given party’s list of chosen candidates. What’s new?
Or are you asserting that when the voter guide is mailed to registered SD Democrats the SDCDP will not include anything similar out of respect for the sanctity of our election process? Please.
Elections are for suckers, the weather is fine, thank you, and I love dust.

Reply

avatar Frank Gormlie April 25, 2010 at 11:55 am

You of all people should know the diff between a letter and a slick 2-page campaign slate insert, as you used to print them. So, you haven’t always been a hippie hanging out n OB or other places.
“at taxpayers’ expense” is the gist of this entire issue.
The Repubs have overstepped this obscure law.
There’s snow in our local mountains.
There was just a remembrance for Nancy Little yesterday Sunday out on the OB Pier.
And I love the photos and stories about the military EVERY day on the front page of our local fish wrap.
Wish you were wonderful, everything’s here.
Still only one poker game since your departure.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Before clicking Submit, please complete this simple statement to help us weed out the bots... Thank you! *

Older Article:

Newer Article: