For the want of some electrical power, Fresno City Council candidate Garry Bredefeld admits he violated campaign rules.
On Jan. 26 Bredefeld held a press conference on the sidewalk outside of City Hall with Mayor Ashley Swearengin. They both stood at a podium that had a microphone, and she gave her endorsement of him for the District 6 seat.
Before they could speak into the microphone, however, electricity had to be hooked up to the podium. “Some city staff came by and quickly turned on the power and we held the press conference,” Bredefeld said Friday.
That was a problem, however. City resources – staff time, materials, equipment, facilities and the like – cannot be used to support a council candidate’s campaign.
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In looking into the situation after getting a tip, The Bee asked city spokesman Mark Standriff if any city resources had been used to help Bredefeld with the press conference. In a midday email to Standriff, The Bee specifically asked if Fresno city staff helped get power to the podium.
Standriff’s response: “Mr. Bredefeld hired his own A/V team and brought his own podium, mic, speakers, etc.”
But by 4:54 p.m., the answer had changed. In an interview, Standriff said “City employees did go out there to turn the power on. But they did not set up the press conference for Mr. Bredefeld. We did call them out there to turn the power on. He has asked the city to charge him for that staff time.”
Bredefeld said using the city staff for assistance, and not paying for it immediately, was an oversight. “I did not think of it at the time – I was focused on the conference. But I became aware of it today (Friday) and immediately sent a request for an invoice for whatever city staff time was used because, clearly, we should be paying for that.”
Bredefeld could not remember specifically when on Friday he learned of the oversight.