Campaign Flyer Contains False Info

Tony Manolatos Tony Manolatos 3 Comments

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A judge ordered judicial candidate Terrie Roberts to strike false and misleading information from her ballot argument. She did. But Roberts then used some of the stricken statements in her campaign literature.   

Some of the campaign literature Superior Court Commissioner Terrie Roberts is distributing contains information that a court has ruled is false and misleading.

Last month, a judge found that Roberts, who is running for San Diego County Superior Court Judge, made false and misleading statements about her qualifications.  Roberts was ordered to change her Statement of Qualifications and remove the false and misleading claims, which were in violation of state law.

Roberts was required to comply with the order, which you can read here. But Roberts has turned around and inserted some of the very statements stricken from her ballot argument into her campaign literature.

What does that say about the character of a judicial candidate?

The courts have jurisdiction over ballot statements but these laws do not apply to campaign materials. That is an area governed by the California Code of Judicial Ethics.  In San Diego, when a candidate seeks to be rated by the San Diego County Bar Association the candidate agrees to comply with the Bar’s Judicial Election Campaign Code of Ethics.

The code states: “Candidates and their supporters shall not engage in, or permit any statement, campaign material or advertisement which misrepresents, distorts, or otherwise falsifies the facts regarding any candidate, including himself or herself.”

The California Code of Judicial Ethics contains similar language. All of this leads me to the above campaign flyer from Roberts.

It says Roberts is the “Only candidate endorsed by Sheriff Bill Gore….” It also encourages voters to “Vote for the only candidate who has served in every role in the  court.”

The court ruled that both of those statements are false. The court also ruled that the use of the word “only” is prohibited by the State Elections Code because it “alludes and infers to an opponent’s lack of qualifications. Therefore, since the statement tends to make negative inferences to an opponent, the court finds it to be an indirect negative attack.”

The court ruling was in response to a petition filed by judicial candidate and Deputy District Attorney David Berry, Roberts’ opponent, who asked the court to force Roberts to remove false, misleading and unlawful statements in her Statement of Qualifications filed with the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

The judge ruled in Berry’s favor with regard to nearly all requests contained in his petition.

It’s unfortunate that Roberts felt it was ok for her to ignore the court’s factual findings when compiling her campaign materials. What does that say about her judgment?

Disclosure: My client list includes David Berry.

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Tony Manolatos is a communications strategist. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedInYou can hear Tony talk politics and media with KOGO’s LaDona Harvey every Friday at 2:35 p.m. on AM 600 and FM 95.7.
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Comments 3

  1. The disclosure above is the only thing worth reading here.

    As Tony knows the restrictions on “negative” comments in ballot statements do not apply to mailers. “Misleading”?: Sheriff Gore indeed endorsed Robert, but also other candidates… for different positions. David Berry can do better.

  2. Post
    Author

    Gentlemen:

    Thank you for the feedback.

    The point is judicial candidates are held to a higher standard than people running for other elected offices.

    Tony

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