Janz petitions court to drop county’s lawsuit against Bredefeld, Chavez

If a Fresno County judge sides with the county over campaign finance law, the City of Fresno is concerned that such a ruling would be unconstitutional and that the city would have to change how it interprets its own campaign finance ordinance.

Fresno City Attorney Andrew Janz is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Fresno County against councilmembers Garry Bredefeld and Luis Chavez. 

The duo are running for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors and are being sued by the county to prevent them from transferring all of their campaign money from their city council accounts to their county campaign accounts. 


The backstory: In 2020 the Board of Supervisors set campaign contribution limits at $30,000 per election. 

  • Bredefeld and Chavez both had well over $30,000 in their city council campaign accounts and signaled their intent to transfer the money to their county campaign accounts. 
  • The county responded by filing a lawsuit against the pair arguing that the 2020 ordinance applies to transfers from one campaign committee to another, meaning Bredefeld and Chavez would be limited to transferring only $30,000. 

The big picture: Last week Janz filed an amicus brief with the Fresno County Superior Court arguing that the county’s ordinance only applies to transfers from one county office campaign to another in the county, not from a city to county campaign. 

  • Janz detailed that the city’s own campaign finance ordinance sets a limit on contributions but is silent on the issue of transfers. 
  • Since the city feels that its ordinance is consistent with California state law, a ruling by the court on Fresno County’s ordinance would affect how the city interprets and enforces its own ordinance. 
  • Janz pointed to a previous ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that determined intra-candidate transfer bans are unconstitutional limitations. 

What they’re saying: “Cities and counties across California, including the City of Fresno, have interpreted or drafted their local ordinances to conform to this Constitutional mandate,” Janz wrote in the filing. “The fact that Fresno County purports to impose something less than an ‘absolute ban’ on candidate expenditures does not save the ordinance from pertinent California court holdings.”

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