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San Diego County Registrar and Republicans accused of legal violations at taxpayer expense

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego County Democratic Party (SDCDP) yesterday 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.