Fresno Measure G camps trade complaints over trash pickup campaign

FresnoJune 7, 2013 

Tuesday's contentious Measure G election is finished and the votes are still being counted, but the political skirmishing continues.

A Fresno resident filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission — the state's political watchdog — against Fresno City Manager Mark Scott. The complaint says Scott got free legal representation in a lawsuit he filed challenging No on G's ballot-argument language.

And the Yes on G side plans to file its own complaint with both the FPPC and the Fresno city attorney saying that Common Sense Information — an independent political committee formed by local Republican businessman Tal Cloud — violated state law by campaigning against Measure G in its commercials.

With the election over, both sides acknowledge any sanctions would have no effect on the outcome, but that's not stopping either of them from pursuing their respective complaints.

Former Fresno County Supervisor Doug Vagim, one of the No on G leaders who was named in the lawsuit, said the complaint against Scott was filed because Scott filed a lawsuit, yet paid no money for his legal representation.

"He had no source of funds," Vagim said. "He got a gift of funds from somewhere. That violates the law."

But Tim Clark, the lead Yes on G consultant, said Sacramento attorney Brian Hildreth — part of the Yes on G legal team and the one who argued Scott's case — told him that case law has found that because Scott received no personal benefit from the lawsuit, it would not be counted as a gift.

Clark said Cloud's organization is acting as a political committee that sought Measure G's defeat, but has not filed the proper paperwork.

Cloud — who said he welcomes the complaint — said Common Sense Information spent $35,000 in the campaign on "issue education." He said the committee didn't violate any law because it never advocated for or against Measure G.

Clark said he's only pursuing the complaint to stop Cloud "in the future."

— John Ellis

Perez, Vidak off to slow fundraising start

Could it be that Bakersfield Democrat Leticia Perez wasn't hopeful of making it past the May 21 special election to fill the vacant 16th District state Senate seat?

On Election Day, she contributed $10,000 from her campaign account to Bakersfield City Council candidate Willie Rivera.

Perez then found herself losing to Hanford Republican Andy Vidak, who not only was leading in the 16th District race, but had more than 50% of the vote — a threshold that would have given him an outright victory in the battle to replace Bakersfield Democrat Michael Rubio, who resigned in February.

By the following day, Perez had conceded to Vidak. Her donation to Rivera seemed on the mark.

Then came the 11th-hour turnaround, which saw a bunch of late absentee and provisional ballots go against Vidak. Though he still won the race, Vidak fell below 50% of the vote, forcing a July 23 runoff with Perez, the second-place finisher.

Suddenly, the Rivera donation didn't seem so wise.

Now, with the runoff officially coming, the two candidates seem to be slow out of the gate in their respective fundraising efforts.

Both have raised around $35,000 each since the May 21 election.

But, financially speaking, Perez was clearly in the better position leading up to the election.

Vidak had about $150,000 left in his campaign account — and around $26,400 in unpaid bills — as of May 4, his last full finance report filing. Perez, by comparison, had more than $270,000, and less than $5,000 in unpaid bills, at the same point in time.

It looks like she could afford the Rivera contribution.

For the record, Rivera — a 22-year-old Democrat — this week won his City Council race.

— John Ellis

Fresno County offers 2 for hospital board

Fresno County supervisors this week selected two candidates to be considered for the open seat on the Community Regional Medical Center board of trustees.

Clovis resident Vong Mouanoutoua and Fresno resident Salvador Gonzalez are the nominees.

The medical center's board of trustees will decide which candidate fills the vacancy. The board could also reject both candidates and ask for another nomination.

The board oversees the center's 6,000-employee hospital system.

A seat opened up when former board member Mark Borba was ousted after using a racial slur of President Obama.

— Kurtis Alexander

 

The Political Notebook is a compilation of stories foudn on The Bee's Poltiical NOtebook Blog. To comment or read more, go to news.fresnobeehive.com/politicalnotebook

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