Steve Brandau isn’t running for an open seat in the California State Assembly. He also isn’t accepting a shoo-in return ticket to the Fresno City Council, either.
Sunday, speaking with KSEE 24’s Alexan Balekian on Sunday Morning Matters, Brandau confirmed his intent to seek a second full term on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, teeing up a heated, and likely pricey, clash with Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld.
All about the Benjamins, Baby: In the interview, Balekian challenged Brandau on the optics of the legal fight emerging over a thorny difference of opinion over the County’s campaign finance rules.
- Fresno County has held that its campaign contribution limits ordinance also limits the amount of money other elected officials – such as Bredefeld and fellow Councilman (and Supervisorial challenger) Luis Chavez – can transfer from their campaign committees at the City of Fresno to $30,000 per election.
- As of year end, Bredefeld reported having $228,388 on-hand in his city council campaign account, while Chavez had $110,018.
- Brandau reported having $173,619 on-hand at the close of 2022. Supervisor Sal Quintero (squaring off against Chavez) reported holding $74,498.
- The two City of Fresno lawmakers contend that the transfers are done on a donor-by-donor basis. Because the City of Fresno’s contribution limit is $4,900, no single contributor would exceed $30,000.
- Tuesday, with Brandau and Quintero abstaining, three Supervisors voted to authorize litigation for declaratory relief to settle the legality of transferring more than $30,000 per election.
- Balekian pointedly asked Brandau if he believed voters didn’t view the moves to sue and block the transfer of campaign contributions for Bredefeld and Chavez as not being designed to protect Supervisorial incumbents.
- Brandau conceded that, due to the intense media focus on the issue, public perception of the moves at Fresno County Hall of Records may have turned sympathetic to Bredefeld and Chavez.
Brandau’s take: Brandau, who prior to Sunday remained largely mum about Bredefeld’s moves, took a few opportunities to attack his former colleague on the Fresno City Council.
- “This is typical Bredefeld spiel,” Brandau said of Bredefeld and Chavez’s press conference on Thursday. “He does a press conference twice a week, I’ve been at a bunch of them with him. Not too long ago, he did the same thing about PG&E. He said it’s a big scheme – criminal – and he said the City of Fresno’s going to create its own power agency and push PG&E out of the way. It’s all talk. None of that happened, none of that is going to happen.”
- Brandau addressed the awkward match-up of facing his one-time political ally in 2024, referring to Bredefeld as “little feller.”
#SundayMorningMatters #Exclusive @FresnoCountyCA Brandau breaks his silence in legal fight over a campaign ordinance & heated race w/his 'former' friend @GarryBredefeld 'I tried being friends w/that lil' feller, he decided to stick me in the back' @KSEE24 @FresnoCountyGOP Sun-8am pic.twitter.com/HpfglY4yBM— Alexan Balekian (@RealALEXAN) March 4, 2023
Bredefeld’s clapback: Following the airing of the interview, the Fresno lawmaker kicked off a fresh litany of barbs aimed at Brandau, from the PG&E quip to the County’s COVID response.
- “Disgraceful but revealing interview with Steve Brandau,” Bredefeld wrote in a Facebook post. “Brandau criticized me for taking on the monopoly PG&E because they are gouging the utility rates of our residents and he disgracefully defended them. He also criticized me for having a press conference calling them out for their outrageous rate-gouging, not electrifying housing developments, and prior criminal conduct. Yet, as is typical with phony politicians, despite his criticizing me, he and nearly every other Board of Supervisor stood with me at my press conference at City Hall. Now the City is moving forward in looking at all possible solutions to provide more efficient and reasonable rates to our citizens.”