Last week, Fresno City Councilmembers Garry Bredefeld and Luis Chavez won a legal battle over Fresno County’s attempts to limit how much money they could transfer to their Board of Supervisors campaign accounts.
Monday, Bredefeld continued sounding off on the county’s lawsuit against him, calling it an abuse of power and corrupt.
Driving the news: Fresno County sued Bredefeld and Chavez – who are running for the Board of Supervisors – for transferring over $30,000 from the city council campaign accounts to their county campaign account. The county argued that an ordinance passed by the board in 2020 limited such transfers.
- But last Friday Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Skiles found the county’s $30,000 campaign account transfer rule to be unconstitutional, ruling that transfers are protected as political speech under the First Amendment.
- The ordinance’s $30,000 limit on campaign contributions from a single source was untouched by Skiles as he ruled that there is a difference between transfers and contributions.
What they’re saying: Bredefeld held a press conference outside of the B. F. Sisk Courthouse on Monday, publicly asking the Board of Supervisors to apologize for the lawsuit.
- “Instead of running a fair campaign against me, the county Board of Supervisors sought to use taxpayer dollars and the courts to punish me criminally and make me burn through my campaign resources to defend my first amendment rights and my rights to speak to voters,” Bredefeld said. “That is unconscionable. It goes against everything our founding fathers wanted this country and the democratic process to be. This was a plain weaponization of county government by suing me with the threat that if I did not comply with their unconstitutional limits on transferring campaign donations, I can be convicted of a misdemeanor, fined $1,000 and put in jail for six months.”
- He also called on each supervisor to reimburse taxpayers from their own personal funds for the cost of suing himself and Chavez.
- “This was a bogus lawsuit,” Bredefeld said. “It was all designed to prevent me from communicating and defeating Steve Brandau, who’s being protected by these guys, as all the others. It’s a disgraceful display. It’s never been done. It’s unprecedented in the State of California. You’ve never seen incumbents ever take taxpayer money – the government offices that they’re representing – and sue challengers to prevent them from transferring money, which has been done in California for decades.”