Taxpayers’ Group Files Complaint Over Use of Public Funds Promoting Measure M

Four taxpayer advocates filed a sworn complaint July 11 with the State Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) alleging that the City of Long Beach violated the Political Reform Act by spending public funds to campaign for the passage of Measure M on the June ballot.

The complainants, Tom Stout, Diana Lejins, Joe Weinstein and Gerrie Schipske today issued the following statement:

“Today, we have filed a sworn complaint with the FPPC alleging that the City of Long Beach, through the mayor and City Council, have violated the Political Reform Act by using taxpayer money (government resources) to send out several direct mail pieces that were clearly not ‘informational’ but campaign materials. We also believe that the mayor and several councilmembers utilized their city-paid cellphones and computers to send out misleading messages urging constituents to vote for Measure M.

These messages told constituents that Measure M was “not a tax,” when in fact it is; that the transfers would be taken only from “surplus” which is false and that constituent utility rates would not be increased which is also false as they are being currently raised because of Measure M.

State law only allows the city to spend public money to provide ‘informational’ materials. Such materials must be in the ‘style, tone and timing’ that make them ‘informational’ and not advocacy.

Our complaint notes that the ‘style’ of the direct mail pieces were not the ‘regular’ way in which the city communicates information with voters. The city utilized a political consultant who targeted the mailers only to specific voters instead of all voters in the city. There are currently 259,839 registered voters or 147,579 households in Long Beach. The city-paid mail pieces were only sent to a targeted 63,741 households or 43 percent. If these mailers were truly ‘informational,’ they would have been sent to all registered voters. These were campaign pieces.

We stressed in our complaint that the ‘tone and timing’ of these pieces also strongly underscore their campaign nature by pointing out that the direct mail pieces omitted crucial facts that Measure M is a ‘tax’ and that utility rates would be raised to pay for the transfer of funds from the utilities. The direct mail pieces also use inflammatory language threatening cuts to public safety and infrastructure if voters did not pass the measure, when in fact, no council action had been taken to identify specific cuts related to the failure to pass Measure M.

Most egregious is the ‘timing’ of these materials to coincide with mailings from the Mayor’s Committee to Support the Utility Transfer: The city’s mailers omitted the fact that Measure M is a “tax” while the mayor’s mailers stated: ‘Measure M is NOT a tax increase.’ The message to the voters was orchestrated to urge passage of Measure M.”

Category:

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Beachcomber

Copyright 2018 Beeler & Associates.

All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced or transmitted – by any means – without publisher's written permission.