Bredefeld, Chavez awarded attorney fees over county campaign finance lawsuit

Fresno County sued Garry Bredefeld and Luis Chavez to keep them from transferring over $30,000 to their supervisor campaign accounts. After losing the lawsuit, the county now also has to pay tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees.

Fresno County owes attorney fees to Fresno City Councilmen Garry Bredefeld and Luis Chavez over its lawsuit regarding campaign finance. 

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jon Skiles submitted the ruling last week, ordering the county to pay out over $72,000 in attorney fees. 


The backstory: In 2020, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors limited campaign contribution limits at $30,000 from a single source, later saying the limit included intra-campaign transfers, which would keep a candidate from moving money from a City Council campaign account to a Board of Supervisors campaign account. 

  • Bredefeld and Chavez launched their respective campaigns for the Board of Supervisors and indicated that they would both move all of their campaign funds, totalling well over $30,000 each, to new accounts. 
  • Fresno County filed a lawsuit against both councilmen to limit their moves to $30,000, but last September Skiles ruled in favor of Bredefeld and Chavez, saying intra-campaign transfers are not contributions and are protected under the First Amendment as political speech. 

The big picture: Following last year’s ruling, Bredefeld and Chavez sought attorney fees from the county, which Skiles awarded last week. 

  • The county is ordered to pay $72,709. 
  • “Defendants submit that they conferred a significant benefit on the general public in their defense of the action by protecting the speech rights of current and future County candidates,” Skiles wrote in his ruling. “Defendants additional[ly] argue they conferred a significant benefit for the ‘informational interests’ of Fresno County voters.” 
  • Skiles ruled that Bredefeld and Chavez did constitute a significant benefit on the general public by defending the case. 
  • Both Bredefeld and Chavez also will appear on the November ballot for Districts two and three, respectively, after performing well in the primary election. 

What they’re saying: Bredefeld told The Sun that the lawsuit from the Board of Supervisors was nothing more than an “Incumbent Protection Scheme” designed to keep them in power. 

  • “We fought back and won,” Bredefeld said. “They wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars by hiring a high-priced LA law firm, using County attorneys, and forcing us to defend against their reckless legal scheme. These Supervisors owe their constituents an apology and should personally reimburse the taxpayers but it will never happen. It is time for real change, transparency, and accountability and that is coming on Election Day in November.” 
Related Posts