Tom Shepard, Puppet Master. Which County Supervisors’ Strings Will He Pull Tomorrow?

Brian BradyBrian Brady 10 Comments


Tom Shepard is up to his old shenanigans again. Shepard-backed Supervisor Ron Roberts is introducing a proposal to limit candidate donations from political parties in San Diego County. Guess why? To protect two of Shepard’s other clients, up for re-election in 2016: Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox. It also gives Shepard a chance to make MORE money by forming and/or consulting for “independent expenditure committees” (also known as attack ad slush funds).

Campaign contribution contribution limits have driven money to those “independent expenditure committees.” Those committees are formed to cloak donors from the blowback of  negative attack ads. Political parties,however, are required to report their donors, have long-standing ties to the community, and submit to democratic elections. Shepard wants to keep the transparent money limited so he can control the “dark” money.   Ron Nehring described this on the Flash Report today:

Independent Expenditure committees are not transparent: our political parties meet in public, IE’s meet in secret. They are not broad based: a recent independent expenditure campaign in an East County high school district was funded entirely by a single mega-donor. Independent Expenditure committees aren’t democratically governed either. Political parties are run by representatives elected by the voters. They have an office. If you don’t like what they do, you can call them and complain. Or go to their office.

Don’t like what an independent expenditure campaign does?  You can send a letter. To their post office box. That nobody checks. Because the group is a front.

This is a naked power grab to run attack ads, against would-be challengers, to protect the incumbents up for re-election. Incumbents already have an institutional advantage in elections. Limiting contributions from political parties dissuades a challenge from a member of the opposition party. It stifles dissent, debate, and a clear choice for the voters. It’s unfair, undemocratic, and violates the God-given freedom of expression which our First Amendment protects.

Tomorrow, at 9:00AM, our County Board of Supervisors meets to hear public comments and vote on this proposal.  Come and express your opinion against this proposal. I’ll be there to say that any Supervisor who votes for this, especially those up for election, is afraid to debate the issues transparently. Support for this is to support the dark, unseemly side of politics — the very reason more voters opt to stay home on election day.


Comments 10

  1. Hmmm….Do you think a couple of ‘Fletchers’ will occur soon? Worked well for him, didn’t it?

    Mr. Brady, I would really like to see you do a write up on how the rule violates free speech according to SCOTUS and the Constitution/BOR. You have the ability to ground issues and show how it affects everyone. My humble request.

  2. Or should I say not necessarily violating free speech, but puts some organizations at a disadvantage compared to other organizations. Thanks for allowing the clarification.

  3. Post

    I oppose any and all attempts to censor speech based on this idea:

    Humans own themselves, their thoughts, their expressions, their labor, and the product of their labor (property). If a human wanted to leverage his property, to augment his expressions, no other human has the right to restrict that action, especially with the threat of violence (which is what backs up a law)

  4. “Alexandra Arce”…

    Yes, your comments will continue to be rejected, unless you follow the rules.

  5. i support you Brian, and wish I could be there with you this morning. Just to clarify: You may not like IEs, but you are not advocating against their freedom of expression, yes? The direct problem here is yet another group (or individual) trying to use the unflenching, unfeeling muscle of law to stifle speech they don’t like by cloaking it in money.

  6. Post

    “You may not like IEs, but you are not advocating against their freedom of expression, yes?”

    Gosh no. I don’t like lots of things but I would fight to keep those things legal.

    I liken the SDRostra comments to the political world:

    1- Individuals who use their name here stake their reputation on their comments. We are easily found on the internet. Similarly, people can discount political ads from George Soros or the Koch Brothers.

    2- Some rare comments here come from a “group”. Imagine a comment from the “Yuma-Imperial Council of Future Framers”. Those groups have to watch their reputation because they exist on membership and public opinion. Similarly political parties advertise in elections and their advertisements will enhance or damage their brand

    3- Finally, we have commenters here who use pseudonyms. There is nothing wrong with that but they use pseudonyms to avoid accountability for their speech. Some pseudonyms here establish a pretty good reputation and some earn a poor one. Independent expenditure committees are like those commenters who use a pseudonym here — they aren’t “bad” but they are designed to be unaccountable.

    I don’t want to limit campaign contributions from anyone. I want voters to understand the message and the messenger’s credibility. I trust people to discern political speech just like they discriminate between the commenters’ credibiities here.

  7. Harold Schwartz, voting is the easy part, giving money and time are harder. But I understand your sentiment.

    Brian Brady, point well made on pseudonyms, some people have reasons for them, hope you understand, as you know, otherwise I am very accountable for everything I do.

  8. I completely understand Ms Right. There are reasons for IEs as well. Both an IE and pseudonym can establish an impeccable reputation anonymously. You have.

  9. At least the political parties and many IE campaigns use VOLUNTARY contributions. Labor unions — especially public employee labor unions — MUST “contribute” to the union bosses’ political choices. ALL such unions in California are totally dependent on COERCION for funding their IE campaigns (and for union lobbying, etc.).

    Perhaps the closest thing to a magic bullet for CA reform would be to ban government mandatory union dues collections — let the unions bill their members and do their own fundraising.

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