Jess Durfee, Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, today filed complaints against Republican City Council candidate Ray Ellis and an independent expenditure committee, San Diego County Voters for Progress and Reform, formed to support his and other campaigns, detailing two major violations of state laws. The complaints were filed with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, the State Fair Political Practices Commission, and the City of San Diego Ethics Commission.
“San Diegans need to know that San Diego County Voters for Progress and Reform and the candidates it supports, including Ray Ellis, have chosen to violate state law," said Durfee. "This is essentially money-laundering and defrauding of the public, and it's an egregious breach of trust with voters.”
The two major violations were detailed in a press conference held on the steps of the Hall of Justice. San Diego County Voters for Progress and Reform (SDCVPR) has been funneling funds from the Lincoln Club, the Building Industry Association, and others to support various local candidates, including Ray Ellis. The committee attempted to mask the source of its funding by failing to file a disclosure form within the required period, including a major donation of $25,000 from the Building Industry Association.
Ellis and the committee also broke state campaign finance laws by illegally coordinating their activities in order to use unlimited outside contributions to fund television advertising. In April 2012, the Ellis campaign produced a series of seven videos that have been broadcast on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Mr55PDEZE0&feature=plcp).
In early October, SDCVPR produced and purchased $50,000 in air time on high profile cable TV to air a slick commercial supporting Ray Ellis (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBTKTbx6Ejw). The commercial clearly uses the same raw video footage that was originally produced and paid for by the Ellis campaign. (View a side-by-side comparison at http://youtu.be/tA_NXjqSbcQ.)
“It is illegal for a candidate and an independent expenditure committee to coordinate in this way, or any way,” Durfee explained. “No one should be able to buy an election.” Durfee called on SDCVPR and Ray Ellis to immediately cease the airing of the commercials and called on SDCVPR to release a full accounting of all donations received and expenses accrued.
“If the public can’t trust Ray Ellis and his supporters to follow the rules during a campaign, how will they be able to trust him to govern if he’s elected to the City Council?” Durfee said.