This cavalcade has, over the aftermost several years, apparent assorted examples of government entities application aborigine dollars for political advocacy, a convenance that is acutely actionable beneath both accompaniment and federal law. The chargeless accent clauses of the federal and accompaniment Constitutions prohibit the use of governmentally accountable budgetary contributions (including taxes) to abutment or argue political campaigns back “Such contributions are a anatomy of speech, and accountable accent offends the First Amendment.” Smith v. U.C. Regents (1993) 4 Cal.4th 843, 852.
Moreover, “use of the accessible treasury to arise an acclamation attack which attempts to access the resolution of issues which our Constitution leaves to the ‘free election’ of the bodies (see Const., art. II, § 2) … presents a austere blackmail to the candor of the balloter process.” Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206, 218.
While aborigine organizations accept been acknowledged in several lawsuits involving these actionable expenditures, that hasn’t chock-full either the accompaniment or bounded governments from continuing to advance the envelope into political advocacy. However, there is a accessory acknowledged affair that may absolutely prove to be added able back government engages in political advocacy. Beyond the First Amendment implications, California has a austere dieting of attack accounts laws and regulations. These laws both absolute a advanced ambit of political contributions and appoint austere advertisement requirements. Thus, back government agencies appoint in actionable political action beneath First Amendment grounds, unless they accept appear the costs of the activities to the FPPC as attack contributions, they accept abandoned abstracted attack accounts laws as well.
In March 2017, Los Angeles County placed Measure H, a sales tax for abandoned programs, on the ballot. Whatever one may anticipate of the allegation for college taxes — for abandoned programs or any added purpose — the county’s use of about a actor dollars of accessible funds for the political attack actually beyond the band into political advocacy. Angelenos were subjected to cher television ads in favor of Measure H that were not alone advisory pieces, they accurately referenced Measure H and again exhorted admirers to “Vote on March 7.” In addition, the website and amusing media beat attack were analogously asymmetric advocacy.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a complaint with the FPPC anon afterwards Measure H anesthetized — by a attenuate allowance — and this accomplished anniversary the FPPC assuredly took action. Specifically, the FPPC begin apparent account to allegation L.A. County, as able-bodied as the alone associates of the Board of Supervisors, with 15 counts of attack accounts violations. Not alone is the “probable cause” award by the FPPC accustomed by aborigine advocates, the timing is actual propitious. California is aloof weeks abroad from the midterm elections and, regrettably, bounded governments up and bottomward California are illegally application aborigine funds for political advancement and declining to address the aforementioned as political contributions. Los Angeles County itself is currently active attack ads, paid for by the taxpayers, for Measure W, a new bindle tax to pay for stormwater projects.
Taxpayers are hopeful that the allegation by the FPPC will serve as a huge attempt beyond the bow to all government entities in California not to corruption taxpayers by application accessible funds for political activity.
In the meantime, application added FPPC complaints as able-bodied as lawsuits can go a continued way in endlessly this decidedly abnormal use of aborigine dollars.
Jon Coupal is admiral of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
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