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Asm. Cristina Garcia Used Taxpayer Funds to Send Out Campaign Mailer to 75,000 Homes

 

“If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a duck.”

By Brian Hews

June 6, 2022~47th Congressional District candidate and current Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia used the word BASTA! [Enough!] to make her climb up the political ladder.

Always calling herself a “champion of the people,” her website splash page proclaims, “Restoring the people’s trust in government, say BASTA!, enough to government corruption.”

On another page, she touts her ethics, “Among her accomplishment are the landmark Political Conduct, Ethics and Public Trust Acts of 2014. These laws demand increased accountability and promoted transparency and trust in state and local government.”

Garcia’s political and personal life have not followed her proclamations on her website; her ethical lapses have been well documented by HMG-CN.

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And in April of this year, Garcia added to her voluminous list of ethical failures.

Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained a pamphlet mailed by Garcia in early April 2022 to thousands of district-area homes; a well-thought-out “2022 Legislative Priorities” pamphlet designed to hide the real purpose of the mailer and skirt the Fair Political Practices Commission rules on prohibited campaign mailings at taxpayer’s expense for an upcoming election.

 

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Front of mailer, click on image to see larger document.

 

 

Inside top of mailer, click on image to see larger document.

 

Inside bottom of mailer, click on image to see larger document.

 

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A subsequent Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) request revealed that her mailer was sent via USPS to 75,840 homes, at a cost to taxpayers of $20,840, and cost nearly $4,000 to print; $25,000 authorized and paid for by Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office.

 

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Records obtained via a LORA show the Assembly spent nearly $25,000 for Garcia’s mailer.

 

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Garcia’s mailer clearly violated three of the four criteria for a prohibited mass mailing at public expense under Fair Political Practices Commission Section 18901.

1. If the item is tangible, like a pamphlet, and is sent to a residence, 18901 violation.

3. If public funds are used, violation.

4. If more than 200 were mailed, violation.

But it could turn out that hitting .750 isn’t good enough for the FPPC.

Section 2 of 18901 states, “The item [pamphlet] sent either: (A) Expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or the qualification, passage, or defeat of a clearly identified measure (B) When taken as a whole and in context, unambiguously urges a particular result in an election.

Remember the word unambiguously.

Holding Government Accountable?

Garcia’s mailer was 12 tall x 10.5 wide folded; on one side of the front was the Assembly Seal, her name, and a USPS stamp, “US POSTAGE PAID STATE OF CALIF. ASSEMBLY,” all violations of 18901.

 On the middle-left was much larger font proclaiming, “2002 Legislative Priorities Inside.” 

 On the inside, a letter from Garcia states, “Dear friends, excited to share some legislative priorities for the 2022 legislative year. Browse below to read about bills in the legislature expected to impact the district positively. These bills deal with helping women and children, improving public health and the environment, and holding the government accountable to you.”

The mailer listed seven bills under Legislative Priorities 2022 with a brief description for each, ending with “For more information visit ASMDC.ORG/GX.

But a closer inspection of each bill on the website leginfo.legislature.ca.gov shows that Garcia either co-sponsored or introduced every bill. They are listed below:

AB 1341

AB 2320

AB 1778

AB 2214

AB 351

AB 2124

AB 1857

In the letter, Garcia did not instruct recipients to go to leginfo.legislature.ca.gov to easily look up the bill, instead referencing the ASMDC.ORG/GX address.

Navigating to ASMDC.ORG/GX redirects a user to Garcia’s main Assembly 58 website.

Magic Words

Subsections of Section (2) state, “The determination of whether a communication ‘expressly advocates’ is relatively straightforward and is based on whether it contains so-called magic words of advocacy such as: Vote For; Elect; Support; Cast Your Ballot; Vote Against; Defeat; Reject; or Sign Petitions For.

Ironic how a government agency is trying to shorten the wording of a violation.

Garcia’s own words in the mailer, “expected to impact the district positively,” and, “these bills deal with helping women and children, improving public health and the environment, and holding the government accountable to you,” could certainly be shortened to the FPPC Speak words of Vote For, Support, and Cast Your Ballot.

Unambiguously

Under 18901, an item unambiguously urges a particular result in an election if it meets either of the following criteria:

(1) It is clearly campaign material or campaign activity such as…. other mass media advertising.

(2) When considering the style, tenor, and timing of the communication, it can be reasonably characterized as campaign material and is not a fair presentation of facts serving only an informational purpose.

“Not a fair presentation of facts… serving only an informational purpose.”

AB 2320; AB 1778; AB 2214; AB 351; AB 2124; AB 1857

Another subsection states that factors to be considered include whether the item was a mailing sent at public expense that features, or includes the name, office, photograph, or other reference to, an elected officer affiliated with the agency which produces or sends the mailing.

The Assembly Seal, Garcia’s name and address identifying her as the Assemblywoman, and the PAID STATE OF CALIF. ASSEMBLY, can be found on the front of the mailer.

That inclusion also places the Assembly and the office that sent out the mailer in violation of Sections 18901 and 89001.

Walks like a duck…

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