||First Assistant County Attorney Abigail Price-Williams read the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record.
It was moved by Commissioner Diaz that he foregoing proposed ordinance be adopted as presented. This motion was seconded by Chairwoman Sosa, followed by a discussion.
BCC Vice Chair Bell expressed concern that this legislation could have unintended consequences. She questioned the intent of this ordinance and its impact on a candidate if a campaign volunteer committed a wrongful act unbeknown to the candidate. She provided examples such as a candidate fined or penalized for his/her campaign signs dragged into the right-of-way by an opponent’s worker, which happened to her in one of her campaigns.
Commissioner Diaz concurred with Commissioner Bell’s comments and asked staff to read into the record, the amendments into the record that were proffered at the Infrastructure and Land Use Committee meeting and would address these concerns.
Assistant County Attorney Oren Rosenthal read into the record, the following amendment proffered at Committee:
-delete the words “or volunteer” in line 8, subsection 1, of page 4; and
-add a semi-colon after the words “absentee ballots” in line 11, followed by the language “and to any volunteers who have been directed by the campaign, or any consultants or agents of the campaign to perform an absentee ballot related campaign activities” and;
-clarify that the only people needing to be reported are those volunteers who were directed by the campaign to do absentee ballot activities, and not those who are unbeknownst to the campaign.
Commissioner Diaz noted every elected official has experienced similar situations and had to pay fines from their personal finances, not campaign funds, for their campaign signs dragged into the roadway by an opponent. However, the proffered amendments and the clarification provided should prevent a candidate from being penalized for the wrong doings of any volunteer unbeknownst to the candidate.
Vice Chair Bell noted her other concern was the reporting requirements, which would create another layer of reporting, and have a negative impact on the volunteers. She said she understood the intent of this resolution, but could not support it because of the unforeseen issues and the impact on the candidate and the volunteers.
Commissioner Zapata noted he was concerned that this legislation might provide a tool for people to abuse the process. He asked what would protect the candidates from frivolous complaints made against them.
Commissioner Edmonson noted she had the same concerns and has too experienced similar situations involving malicious activities of someone outside her campaign, which was made to look like it came from within her campaign. She said although she understood the intent, she could not support this resolution, based on these concerns.
Commissioner Monestime said he understood that the amendment was to apply only to the campaign consultants and paid workers, but not the volunteers. He noted even though the candidate may not have full control of a volunteer’s actions, he did not want to penalize a good volunteer who had good intentions, and was contributing to the community. He said he would support the resolution as amended, as long as the amendment did not apply to volunteers.
Commissioner Diaz noted he understood his colleagues concerns; however, explained the intent of this legislation was to create more transparency in the absentee ballot process. He questioned the difference between a paid worker and a volunteer directed by the campaign. He said he had no problems with creating an additional level of reporting because the candidate was responsible for his or her own campaign, and noted he believed the mal actions of someone could not be prevented entirely. Commissioner Diaz asked the Assistant County Attorney to draft language that addressed the concerns of his colleagues regarding volunteers.
Chairwoman Sosa noted she understood that the word “volunteers” would be removed from the language of this resolution. She also noted that although candidates may not have full control of their volunteers, they had control over their paid workers, and needed to be careful not to create additional problems. She suggested the Board either approve to send this resolution back to committee for further review, or to remove the word “volunteers” from the language in this resolution. She asked if the sponsor would accept either option.
Responding to Commissioner Diaz inquiry regarding whether removal of the word “volunteers” meant only the paid workers would be impacted by this resolution, Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal noted that was correct, and clarified that the prohibitions would be against any paid worker that the campaign paid for such purposes.
Commissioner Diaz accepted Chairwoman Sosa’s proposed amendment to delete the word “volunteers” from this resolution.
Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal clarified, for the record, the amendment was to delete the words “or volunteer” from line 8, subsection 1, on page 4, and not to include the additional language he previously noted.
Commissioner Bovo noted this was a work in progress, and more could be done to create better transparency. He suggested the Board consider in a future dialogue whether to offer volunteers a one-hour seminar or course on the rules of campaigning.
Vice Chair Bell noted it seemed typical of governments to create new laws for the lawbreakers to break, instead of enforcing the ones already on the books.
Commissioner Diaz concurred with Vice Chair Bell’s comments; however, noted a registry of paid workers would be helpful in assisting law enforcement with prosecuting campaign workers that violated the law. He said he liked Commissioner Bovo’s suggestion to offer volunteers a course on the rules of campaigning and said he would work with him on drafting legislation for it and to bring it forward for a committee review.
BCC Vice Chair Bell pointed out that the paid campaign workers were already reported in the candidates’ campaign finance reports, and asked if the paid workers directed to do absentee ballot activities could be reported in the campaign finance reports as well, in order to not create another layer of reporting.
Chairwoman Sosa asked that Board members focus on the resolution before them, and welcomed them to bring back any legislation that would address their concerns.
In response to Commissioner Monestime’s question regarding whether the hired campaign workers would be responsible for providing the additional report required in this resolution, Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal noted it would be provided by the campaign, and not by the individual paid worker.
Hearing no further discussion, the Board adopted the foregoing proposed ordinance as amended to delete the words “or volunteer” from line 8 in Section 12-14.1, subsection (1) on handwritten page 4.