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.