A legal spat between Fresno County and two Fresno City Council candidates vying to oust members of the Board of Supervisors boiled over on Thursday amid a press conference at Fresno County’s Hall of Records.
Fresno City Council members Luis Chavez and Garry Bredefeld called on the county to drop a taxpayer-funded lawsuit contesting their ability to transfer hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions for their upcoming election campaigns.
Between the lines: Three of five Fresno County Supervisors – Nathan Magsig, Buddy Mendes, and Brian Pacheco – voted Tuesday to authorize legal action seeking declaratory relief to block Bredefeld and Chavez from transferring hundreds of thousands in campaign cash from their City Council committees to upcoming Supervisor accounts.
- Steve Brandau and Sal Quintero, who are slated to face off against Bredefeld and Chavez next year, abstained from the action.
- Fresno County officials have steadfastly argued that an ordinance establishing a county campaign contribution limit of $30,000 per election applies to any transfer of monies from City to County campaign committees.
- Bredefeld, Chavez, and Fresno’s City Attorney, Andrew Janz, argue that transfers would occur on an individualized donor basis. Because the City of Fresno’s limit for contributions is $4,900, they argue the two Fresno lawmakers would be able to transfer the entirety of their war chests on a donor-by-donor basis.
State of Play: Bredefeld and Chavez wasted little time excoriating County leaders for initiating the action, with Chavez dubbing the sudden vote a “witch hunt.”
- Bredefeld took aim at Magsig for his participation in the vote in support of a “bogus lawsuit at taxpayer expense.” Magsig is up for election in 2024, though currently has no formal opponent. Bredefeld argued that the vote could inhibit potential challengers from emerging against the Clovis Mayor-turned-Supervisor.
- In questioning the five-figure campaign contribution limit, Bredefeld issued an indirect barb at Fresno builder Richard Spencer over his apparent support of Brandau, referencing Spencer’s sponsorship of Measure E, a 2022 sales tax measure to fund Fresno State’s athletic and academic programs.
- Chavez, in calling for a withdrawal of the suit, called on Brandau or Quintero to initiate legal action on their own. “They can sue on their own. They don’t have to use taxpayer dollars to do this,” the southeast Fresno lawmaker said.