City attorney reviewing Ashbaugh’s alleged campaign misconduct
October 24, 2012
The San Luis Obispo City Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that it is evaluating the complaint made by four candidates for public office against councilman and candidate for reelection John Ashbaugh.
Council candidates Kevin Rice and Matt Strzpek, as well as mayoral candidates Steve Barasch and Donald Hedrick, accused Ashbaugh of three violations of state and city election codes: use of city email for electoral matters, solicitation of a donation in excess of the $200 limit and late filing of a campaign disclosure.
The city attorney’s office said that in accordance with municipal code it would respond to the complaint by Nov. 1 as to whether or not City Attorney Christine Dietrick intends to file a civil case against Ashbaugh.
While misuse of a city email account constitutes a breach of state government code and could lead to California Fair Political Practices Commission action, the latter two violations, if determined to have occurred, would require the city attorney to act directly. San Luis Obispo Municipal Code 2.40.100, as voted into place by Ashbaugh in January 2010, states that a candidate must pay a penalty of three times the amount of any unlawfully solicited donation. Likewise, a candidate faces a penalty of $100 per day for each day late one files a campaign disclosure.
As documented in the complaint, Ashbaugh requested by way of city email that County Supervisor Adam Hill contribute a $200 check and two bottles of wine. Together the donations exceed the $200 individual limit, a regulation for which Ashbaugh voted three times to enact.
The complaint additionally provides documentation of Ashbaugh filing his campaign disclosure for the period ending June 30 on August 3, three days after the July 31 deadlines.
Despite evidence of the violations, Dietrick taking civil action against Ashbaugh would come as a surprise to some. Despite state and federal investigations into the city employees allegedly covering up illegal acts , Ashbaugh has repeatedly stated his overwhelming support for staff.