Fresno County’s battle against two Fresno City Council members will continue on with another wrinkle in court.
Fresno City Councilmembers Garry Bredefeld and Luis Chavez filed an Anti-SLAPP motion against the county on Friday in the hopes of getting the campaign finance lawsuit levied against them dismissed.
The backstory: Earlier this year, Bredefeld and Chavez announced their intent to run for the seats on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors currently occupied by Steve Brandau and Sal Quintero, respectively.
- Three years ago the board approved an ordinance that set the campaign contribution limits at $30,000 per election, something the county has since argued applies to transfers from one campaign committee to another.
- Bredefeld and Chavez both had well over the $30,000 limit in their city council campaign committees at last count.
- With Bredefeld and Chavez announcing their intent to transfer all of their funds to their county campaign committee, the board initiated a lawsuit against the council members in an attempt to keep their transfers to $30,000.
The big picture: Last Friday Bredefeld and Chavez filed an Anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that the county’s $30,000 cap is unconstitutional and unenforceable and asking the court to dismiss the county’s lawsuit altogether.
Why it matters: Anti-SLAPP motions are filed by defendants on the basis that the plaintiff filed the lawsuit against them to harass or silence them.
- In the lawsuit, Bredefeld and Chavez argue that their First Amendment right of free speech is violated by the county’s ordinance because, saying intra-candidate transfer caps limit the purpose for which the money they raised as candidates may be spent.
What we’re watching: The Fresno County Superior Court will hold a hearing on the Anti-SLAPP motion on May 4.
What they’re saying: In a statement issued to The Sun, Bredefeld said the county is weaponizing its attorneys against him and Chavez.
- “These transfers are legal and the court filing speaks for itself,” Bredefeld said. “These hypocritical politicians are trying to restrict me from transferring contributions from my City Council campaign account to a Board of Supervisor account, something they do every time they run for re-election. Just last August Brian Pacheco transferred $419,000 from a 2022 Supervisor account to a 2026 Supervisor account but they want to stop challengers from doing the same thing. This taxpayer-funded lawsuit is nothing more than an ‘Incumbent Protection Scheme.’ I intend to bring real change, accountability and transparency to the Board of Supervisors despite these unconstitutional and disgraceful efforts.”