Above the Law? Calif Board of Equalization Chair Horton Uses State Funds for Campaign Mailer

INSIDE INGLEWOOD-Last week, California State Board of Equalization (BoE) Chair Jerome Horton used the state agency’s envelopes and postage to mail out a flyer to Inglewood residents that promotes an event at which he will be featured. The flyer also announced that his wife–Inglewood city clerk Yvonne Horton–will be a “special guest.” 

Jerome Horton is currently running in the November 4 general election to retain his seat as BoE Chairman.

The presorted envelope was sent out using state funds via the franking privilege granted to state officials–which means that California taxpayers footed the bill for the envelopes and postage.

The envelope also bears the seal of the State of California, a direct violation of California Government Code 402.5: “(a) In addition to the acts prohibited by Section 402, a person who uses or allows to be used any reproduction or facsimile of the Great Seal of the State in any campaign literature or mass mailing, as defined in Section 82041.5, with intent to deceive the voters, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
“(b) For purposes of this section, the use of a reproduction or facsimile of a seal in a manner that creates a misleading, erroneous, or false impression that the document is authorized by a public official is evidence of intent to deceive.” 

The envelope states at bottom left “THIS IS NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT / Paid for by Board of Equalization Member Horton 2014,” the political committee which is responsible for collecting funds for Horton’s 2014 run to remain seated. There is no presort permit number, however, on the envelope.

On the flyer, a disclaimer of sorts appears to acknowledge the violation: “The BOE’s participation in this activity and the appearance of the BOE name, logo or seal on promotional materials is not an endorsement…”—the key term being “promotional materials,” which indicates that the flyer may be a political promotion.

Neither the envelope nor the flyer display Horton’s campaign ID number, which is ID# 1333869.

In 2011, the Hortons were fined $13,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) regarding violations of a bailout in Inglewood for a 2009 election during which Jerome Horton’s political committee, Citizens to Elect Honest Officials sent out now fewer than three mass mailings over the course of two weeks. In the FPPC’s four-count ruling, three of the counts stated that the mass mailings “did not identify Respondent Jerome Horton as the candidate controlling the committee.”

It is unknown if taxpayers are also on the hook for the design and printing of the flyer sent out.

The event is to take place at Hollywood Park Casino this Saturday. The casino has in the past contributed to candidates (and at least one Political Action Committee (PAC)) backed by the Hortons during Inglewood elections. (See a related story.)  

The two major thoroughfares immediately adjacent to the casino—Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue—are heavily dotted with “Horton for Board of Equalization” signs.

Horton did not respond to a request for comment.

-cw

 

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 12 Issue 85

Pub: Oct 21, 2014

 


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