OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Posts Tagged ‘Secretary of State’

Auditor-Controller Race: Frank Davies Loses “Deputy Auditor-Controller” Ballot Designation, Will Use “Property Tax Director” Instead

Posted by Chris Nguyen on March 31, 2014

There have been five lawsuits related to the June Primary election ballot for Orange County. The meat of this article is after the bullet list. The bullet list just recaps the prior cases.

  • In the Second Supervisorial District, Allan Mansoor successfully sued the Registrar of Voters to change Michelle Steel‘s ballot designation of “Taxpayer Advocate/Businesswoman” and she is now required to use “Board of Equalization Member” instead. This case was covered here on OC Political, in an article in the OC Register, and in an article in the Daily Pilot.
  • In the Clerk-Recorder’s race, Troy Edgar‘s lawsuit against the Registrar of Voters to get on the ballot was rejected by the Orange County Superior Court. Edgar’s lawsuit against the Registrar of Voters also sought to toss Assessor Webster Guillory and Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares from the ballot, and this effort was also rejected by the Superior Court. Consequently, Edgar fails to make the ballot while Guillory and Mijares stay on the ballot. Here’s OC Political’s coverage, including the only online copy of the full text of the judge’s ruling. The judge’s sweeping ruling used “failed” or “fails” six times in reference to Edgar and even uses “without merit” in reference to one of Edgar’s arguments.
  • In the 73rd Assembly District, Mission Viejo resident Dale Tyler sued the Secretary of State to challenge a sentence in AD-73 Candidate Anna Bryson‘s ballot statement, “On the school board, I returned $59 million to taxpayers.” Tyler sought to have the sentence struck entirely, but the Sacramento County Superior Court judge issued a compromise, so it now reads, “On the school board, I voted to save taxpayers approximately $59 million.” Here’s OC Political’s coverage, and here’s the text of the judge’s ruling.
  • In the Auditor-Controller’s race, candidate John Wayne Willard sued the Registrar of Voters in an unsuccessful effort to challenge Eric Woolery‘s “Orange Treasurer/CPA” ballot designation. Consequently, Woolery remains “Orange Treasurer/CPA” on the ballot. Here’s OC Political’s coverage, including the only online copy of the full text of the judge’s ruling. When the judge includes strong language along the lines of “The evidence is undisputed that Woolery was appointed to the position of Treasurer…” you know it’s a sweeping ruling.
  • Oddly, the fifth lawsuit has yet to have any coverage anywhere despite being the first case to be completed, having been resolved way back on Tuesday, and it’s also likely the most significant case in terms of impact on a race. That case will be the focus of this article.
Auditor-Controller Candidates Eric Woolery, John Wayne Willard, Frank Davies, and Mike "Mike" Dalati.  OC Political was unable to find a photo of James T. Benuzzi.

Auditor-Controller Candidates Eric Woolery, John Wayne Willard, Frank Davies, and Mike “Mike” Dalati.
OC Political was unable to find a photo of James T. Benuzzi.

Laguna Niguel resident Todd Nugent challenged the ballot designation of Auditor-Controller candidate Frank Davies. Davies requested the ballot designation of “Deputy Auditor-Controller” for his bid for Auditor-Controller.

Nugent challenged it on the grounds that this was an effort by Davies to game the system by playing working title musical chairs, as he was not the Chief Deputy Auditor-Controller. Denise Steckler held both the job classification and working title of “Chief Deputy Auditor-Controller” before the candidate filing period. Frank Davies held the job classification of “Administrative Manager III” and the working title of “Director, Property Tax” during that time. Then in the middle of candidate filing, after Davies had pulled papers for Auditor-Controller and shortly before he filed them, all four Directors at the Administrative Manager III level in the Auditor-Controller’s office had their working titles switched from “Director” to “Chief Deputy Auditor-Controller” instead (while still remaining in the job classification of “Administrative Manager III”). Chief Deputy Auditor-Controller Denise Steckler then switched to the working title of “Chief of Staff” (while still remaining in the job classification of “Chief Deputy Auditor-Controller”).

Nugent filed suit in Superior Court and succeeded in having “Deputy Auditor-Controller” dumped as Davies’s ballot designation. Consequently, Davies is now “Property Tax Director” on the ballot.

In an obscure down-ticket race like Auditor-Controller, having a ballot designation of “Deputy Auditor-Controller” would have made Davies the frontrunner. Nugent’s challenge was critical in putting Orange Treasurer/CPA Eric Woolery back in the driver’s seat for the Auditor-Controller’s seat. Defeating Willard’s challenge was also critical for Woolery’s frontrunner position.

Here’s how the candidates will appear on the ballot:

(No, that’s not a mistake. Mike “Mike” Dalati is how he requested to be on the ballot. His fiancée, Karina “Karina” Onofre, is a Democratic candidate for AD-74. I have no idea why this couple decided to double-state their first names on the ballot.)

The three strongest ballot designations belong to Woolery, Benuzzi, and Dalati while the two weakest ballot designations belong to Willard and Davies. However, Benuzzi and Dalati failed to obtain ballot statements. Woolery is the only one of the five to wield both a ballot statement and a good ballot designation.

Woolery also bought up most of the slate mailers and wields the most aggressive online presence. He also has the highest name ID having been a former member of the Orange County Board of Education and the current Orange Treasurer. Additionally, he has residual name ID from his wife, Lisa Woolery, a former member of the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board. Eric Woolery also dominates the endorsement arena, wielding the endorsements of the Orange County Taxpayers Association, the California Republican Assembly, and numerous elected officials.

With tens of thousands of dollars, Woolery also has a larger warchest than all of his opponents combined with $50,200. He spent $38,701, on a combination of the ballot statement, candidate filing fee, slate mailers, campaign literature, and consulting fees.

Davies spent his entire $16,476 on the ballot statement and candidate filing fee.

Willard has $16,438, which was presumably spent on the ballot statement and candidate filing fee (he filed a Form 497, but not a Form 460); presumably the other $38 was wiped out by signatures-in-lieu.

Benuzzi raised $2,400 from Anthony Benuzzi and Ronald Benuzzi but had to refund $200 to Anthony Benuzzi when they discovered they had exceeded the campaign contribution limit; with his remaining $2,200, he paid the candidate filing fee and $280 of campaign literature.

Dalati did not file a campaign finance report for the January 1-March 17 reporting period.

In the interest of full disclosure, Woolery is a client of Custom Campaigns, the consulting firm that owns this blog.

Posted in 2nd Supervisorial District, 73rd Assembly District, Orange County Auditor-Controller, Orange County Clerk-Recorder | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How Low Will They Go!

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 13, 2014

I have known Matt McReynolds of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) for many years now. Matt is a wonderful man and a great attorney for the conservative cause.  When Matt lost his sight a few years ago, I never heard of him complaining about it once.  Instead Matt focused on applying his excellent attorney skills for the benefit of PJI’s clients as an attorney who happens to be blind instead of playing the victim.  I also give kudos to the Pacific Justice Institute and its President Brad Dacus for working with Matt to help him continue to be an effective attorney for PJI’s clients.

Matt and PJI have been heavily involved in the effort to place on the ballot a referendum about AB1266 the “Bathroom Bill.”  The effort came close to qualifying for the ballot but is just under 17,000 short of the number needed and PJI, many other attorneys and activists are going over the disqualified signatures and finding many, many instances of institutional bias by some Registrar of Voters offices and the Secretary of State’s office.

Now Matt has discovered that even his own signature was disqualified!  I commend Matt’s article over at the Flashreport (Disenfranchising the Disabled) to you.  This is a new low for the various Registrars of Voters and the Secretary of State’s office involved.  Of course I hope my friends fighting against AB1266 are successful not only because of the specific issue involved, but for the sake of our Initiative process and election integrity in California.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Harkey Bill to Fix Bob Baker Problem Signed Into Law

Posted by Chris Nguyen on August 27, 2013

San Clemente Mayor Robert

San Clemente Mayor Robert “Bob” Baker

Many people may recall the rather amusing saga of San Clemente Councilman Robert “Bob” Baker, who had an opponent in the November 2012 election with the same exact name of Robert “Bob” Baker, which OC Political covered here and here last year.

In a nutshell, Councilman Baker (R) was challenged for re-election by a businessman (D) with the same exact name. (In the process, we discovered ballot designations had been created in 1931 to solve this problem, but that clearly took a life of its own.) Under Elections Code 13118, which was left substantially untouched since 1927, when two candidates with the same (or very similar) names were to each select a number to be placed next to their names on the ballot if at least one of them filed a declaration that their names were confusingly similar.

Since Councilman Baker pulled and filed his nomination paperwork first, he got first pick of numbers.  Naturally, he picked the number 1. Easy enough, right? Well, no. Businessman Baker then threw everyone for a loop by picking the number 0. The San Clemente City Clerk initially determined that businessman Baker would precede Councilman Baker on the ballot since 0 comes before 1. Then, the City Clerk sought advised from the Secretary of State, who then recommended the Clerk to do a random drawing to determine who would get listed first (just like the random drawing of the alphabet for the ballot). 0 was drawn before 1, so businessman Baker was listed before Councilman Baker on the ballot.

Businessman Baker eventually dropped out (though his name remained on the ballot), and Councilman Baker was re-elected by a nearly 3% margin. Shortly after the election, his colleagues on the San Clemente City Council selected Baker to be Mayor of San Clemente for 2013.

CITY OF SAN CLEMENTE Member, City Council
Number To Vote For: 2
Completed Precincts: 46 of 46
Vote Count Percentage
CHRIS HAMM 12,308 26.2%
1 ROBERT “BOB” BAKER 10,890 23.2%
JIM DAHL 9,555 20.3%
MIKE MORTENSON 9,145 19.5%
DAVID CLEGG 3,105 6.6%
0 ROBERT “BOB” BAKER 1,995 4.2%

Well, this year, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey introduced AB 1316 in February, which sailed through the Assembly Elections Committee, the Assembly Appropriations Committee, the Assembly Floor, the Senate Elections Committee, and the Senate Floor, getting unanimous votes every step of the way. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1316 into law this month, and it will take effect on January 1, 2014.

Sponsored by the City Clerks Association of California, AB 1316 was supported by the Secretary of State, the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials, and the League of California Cities. Harkey’s office specifically cited the situation in San Clemente as the impetus for the bill, and that was cited by all four official bill analyses in the Legislature (Assembly Elections, Assembly Appropriations, Senate Elections, and Senate Floor).

AB 1316 is quite straightforward.  If any candidate files a declaration declaring that the name of an opponent is confusingly similar, the elections official (the City Clerk for city offices or the Registrar of Voters for federal, state, county, school district, special district, etc.) will now select the number assigned to each candidate with a similar name. The Clerk/Registrar must start with the number 1 and assign the numbers sequentially based on the order that each candidate filed for the ballot. The ballot order will be determined by lottery. AB 1316 also fixed the annoying problem of the number’s location, moving it after the candidate’s name, as existing law had placed it before the candidate’s name.

If Harkey’s bill had been in effect in November 2012, the Councilman would have been Robert “Bob” Baker 1 while the businessman would have been Robert “Bob” Baker 2. Under the pre-Harkey law, as you’ll recall, they were 1 Robert “Bob” Baker and 0 Robert “Bob” Baker.

Due to the inherent advantage of the number 1, I wish AB 1316 had begun with the number 2 instead or that the assigned numbers for the candidates were determined by lottery in the first place.  Oh well.

Sadly (but appropriately), Harkey’s bill also closed my googol loophole: thanks to AB 1316, there can never be a candidate with the number 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Posted in 73rd Assembly District, California, San Clemente | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Secretary of State’s Incorrect Filing Extension Can Only Be Reversed by Court Order

Posted by Chris Nguyen on March 13, 2012

The Secretary of State is to blame for the incorrect filing extension.
While Emami was chasing his tail trying to get an explanation from the Orange County Registrar of Voters for why AD-69 and AD-72 had candidate filing extended (as he described in this grammatically-flawed post incorrectly blaming the Registrar), I went to the source of the people actually responsible for the filing extension: the Secretary of State.  They were the ones who instructed the county registrars to extend filing on various races.  The Secretary of State had sent this memo to the county registrars (h/t to Capitol Alert for that memo, which was oddly placed inside a post about Elizabeth Emken getting the CRP endorsement).

After contacting friends in Sacramento, they inform me that once the filing period extension has been announced, the Secretary of State cannot reverse the decision, as only a judge with a court order can shut down filing.  Only a candidate who has already completed filing has standing to launch the lawsuit necessary to get the court order (in other words only Tom Daly, Michele Martinez, Julio Perez, or Paco Barragan can sue to end the AD-69 filing extension, and only Troy Edgar, Long Pham, Travis Allen, Joe Dovinh, or Albert Ayala can sue to end the AD-72 filing extension).  If they launched the lawsuit, they’d also have to show that they were harmed by the filing extension (i.e. another candidate filed, but no new person has pulled papers in either AD-69 or AD-72 as of this morning).

Even if a candidate launched the suit, they’d have to be willing to suffer the negative press and the hits from their opponents accusing them of “anti-democratic” action by trying to prevent people from joining the race.

Then in the lawsuit itself, the candidate would then face off against bureaucrats in the Secretary of State’s office who would show some bizarrely liberal interpretation of law justifying the extension.  Then, the plaintiff candidate would have to convince the judge that there was enough damage done to themselves and the electoral process from having additional candidates that warranted an injunction (99% chance the judge would not issue an injunction to reduce the number of candidates).

The Orange County Registrar of Voters also sent this out to their e-mail list yesterday:

Explanation for Contest Extensions

March 12, 2012 – Statewide 53 Congressional, Senate and Assembly contests were extended by the Secretary of State to March 14th at 5:00 p.m.  This takes place in races “for which no eligible incumbent is seeking reelection”. The key is eligible – according to the Secretary of State they have determined that some districts that appear to lack an incumbent have eligible candidates (who currently hold office) that could have moved into the district, causing an incumbency.  Redistricting has contributed to this and In Orange County there are two Assembly Districts (69th and 72nd) that fall into this category.

So it seems that the Secretary of State’s office was encouraging carpetbagging.

  • Despite Jose Solorio being termed out and the vast majority of AD-69 being his district, the justification for extending AD-69 is because tiny pieces of Anaheim and Orange from Chris Norby’s old district were included in the new AD-69, candidate filing was extended since Chris Norby chose to run for his hometown’s AD-65 instead of carpetbagging into AD-69.
  • Despite Jim Silva being termed out and the only sitting Assembly Member in the boundaries of AD-72, the justification for extending AD-72 is because is because portions of Allan Mansoor’s old district were included in the new AD-72, candidate filing was extended since Allan Mansoor chose to run for his hometown’s AD-74 instead of carpetbagging into AD-72.

Wow.  Sometimes the Secretary of State can make even the most cynical people more cynical.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I do work in the office of Assemblyman Chris Norby for my day job.  However, I would oppose him carpetbagging into AD-69 even if I did not work for him.)

Posted in 69th Assembly District, 72nd Assembly District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Illegal Ballot Designations That No One Will Bother to Challenge

Posted by Chris Nguyen on March 5, 2012

Looking through the candidate filing, I noticed a couple ballot designations that do not comply with the State Elections Code and Ballot Designation Regulations.  However, no one, not even their opponents, will bother to challenge them.

Fullerton City Council Recall Replacement

(Elections Code Section 13107(a) governs acceptable ballot designations.  Subparagraphs 1, 2, and 4 govern the designations of sitting elected officials, so only 13107(a)(3) applies to this post.)  A ballot designation must consist of the “principal professions, vocations, or occupations” of a candidate.  According to Secretary of State Regulation Section 20714(a):

  • “‘Profession’ means a field of employment requiring special education or skill and requiring knowledge of a particular discipline. The labor and skill involved in a profession is predominantly mental or intellectual, rather than physical or manual…”
  • “‘Vocation’ means a trade, a religious calling, or the work upon which a person, in most but not all cases, relies for his or her livelihood and spends a major portion of his or her time…”
  • “‘Occupation’ means the employment in which one regularly engages or follows as the means of making a livelihood…”

Roberta Reid has “Student” as her ballot designation.  Being a student is not a profession, vocation, or occupation, as defined by the Secretary of State’s regulations.  However, “student” is such a horrible designation that none of her opponents would challenge it.  Nearly any other ballot designation would help Reid, so anyone challenging the designation would probably be an ally.  I mean, really, who’s going to vote for a “student” on the ballot?

Note to all students running for office: Pick “Community Volunteer” as your ballot designation; it sounds good and is virtually unassailable for candidates without full-time jobs.

Democrats’ 55th Assembly District Central Committee

Molly A. Muro has “Business Opportunity Specialist” as her ballot designation.  Secretary of State Regulation Section 20716(e) specifically prohibits the word “specialist” as part of a ballot designation.  (Indeed, former Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi tried to user “Jobs/Economy Specialist” as his ballot designation in the 2010 Board of Equalization primary, but was forced to use “Jobs, Economy Analyst” instead.  Read more about Nakanishi’s attempt here from an old Red County post by Chris Emami and here from Nakanishi’s victorious opponent George Runner.)

However, no one is going to challenge Muro’s designation, even though “Business Opportunity Specialist” actually sounds pretty good.  The reason?  She’s one of three people running for six seats.  She will obviously win since three candidates for six seats means all the candidates win, and there’s still three vacancies left over.  Three more people could decide to run, and everyone running would still win.

Posted in Democrat Central Committee, Fullerton | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »