SLO candidates accuse Ashbaugh of election code violations

October 23, 2012

John Ashbaugh

San Luis Obispo City Council candidate Kevin Rice filed a complaint with the city clerk Tuesday accusing his opponent, incumbent John Ashbaugh, of misusing city resources to benefit his campaign and violating a campaign finance code that the councilman voted into place.

Rice’s complaint, signed additionally by council candidate Matt Strzepek and mayoral candidates Steve Barasch and Donald Hedrick, documents 14 separate emails pertaining to campaign matters that Ashbaugh sent from his city account. California Government Code section 8314 prohibits the use of public resources for campaign matters.

On September 25, in response to a public records request, Ashbaugh stated in an email to City Clerk Maeve Grimes that he had once used his city email for campaign purposes, changing his initial report that he had never done so. Ashbaugh acknowledged sending the one email to San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill.

“Mea Culpa,” Ashbaugh wrote to Grimes.

Yet, Rice’s complaint provides 13 additional emails Ashbaugh sent from his city account addressing campaign matters, including another conversation with Hill. In addition to the messages Ashbaugh sent, Rice included examples of emails Mayor Jan Marx and Councilman Dan Carpenter sent in response to inquiries about their campaigns. Both Marx and Carpenter acknowledged that they could not address campaign issues using their city emails and wrote that they would do so using personal accounts.

The candidates also accused Ashbaugh of two violations of city campaign finance code: soliciting a contribution above the city’s $200 limit and late filing of financial disclosures.

On Jan. 19, 2010, Ashbaugh voted as part of a unanimous council to adopt Ordinance 1538, which prohibited soliciting and accepting individual contributions exceeding $200 in San Luis Obispo elections. Ashbaugh also voted in favor of the ordinance when introduced on Dec. 15, 2009 and reintroduced on Jan. 5, 2010.

Yet, in one of Ashbaugh’s public email swaps with Hill, the councilman solicited a donation exceeding $200 from the supervisor. Hill wrote Ashbaugh saying he would send a $200 check and bring a couple bottles of wine to a campaign event.

“Sounds good — and the wine would be very welcome,” Ashbaugh responded.

Although the solicited monetary donation did not exceed $200, Ashbaugh also requested the wine bottles, which constitute a non-monetary donation.

The final accusation in the complaint — late filing of a campaign disclosure — also violates the municipal election code Ashbaugh voted three times to amend. In voting for Ordinance 1538, Ashbaugh voted to require candidates to file campaign financial statements after the conclusion of filing periods and before the deadlines.

But, Ashbaugh failed to file his disclosure on time for the campaign period ending June 30. The city clerk received his statement on August 3, three days after the July 31 deadline.

The ordinance for which Ashbaugh voted in Dec. 2009 and Jan. 2010 stated that promoting “integrity, honesty and fairness in municipal election campaigns” was the intent and purpose of the regulations.



  1. Crusader says:

    Ashbaugh really should do the honorable thing and resign from the council right now.

    (13) 17 Total Votes - 15 up - 2 down
  2. brettmx says:

    Hmm, this is actually more interesting.

    I found this little gem while looking through the emails.

    (-12) 22 Total Votes - 5 up - 17 down
    • slo Fact Finder says:


      Better check your facts on some disgruntled tenants who tried to get out of their leases and paying their required noise violations as mandated by the City of SLO. Please note that anyone can start any blog they choose no matter if the facts are accurate, Perhaps someone has even started a blog on you under an assumed name. Shame on you brettmx for not checking your facts throughly as you are as bad as the original bloggers themselves.

      (10) 20 Total Votes - 15 up - 5 down
      • brettmx says:

        I’m so ashamed of myself. If I were Catholic I could go to confession. Please forgive me of my sins Fact Finder for I have shamed myself, my family, and friends for my transgressions.

        Oh, and I should believe you- why?.

        (-6) 10 Total Votes - 2 up - 8 down
  3. Structure says:

    LMAO, he used his email a few times to talk about his campaign and accepted a couple (few I hope!) bottles of wine. And here I was looking for some juicy corruption story.

    To read the comments you’d think he’d started eating at the Madonna Inn with his own little private clique.

    (-11) 19 Total Votes - 4 up - 15 down
  4. SLO-shank says:

    Mr. Ashbaugh was using SLO City-owned resources to benefit his campaign when he missed this meeting:

    Now when is Marx going to be arrested for her involvement in Dalidio scandal?

    (18) 36 Total Votes - 27 up - 9 down
  5. Disgusted says:

    Once again a politician who can’t follow the rules. It figures that Adam Hill is involved. These guys are arrogant and, frankly, fairly stupid to think no one will notice. The question is, will anyone care?

    (30) 42 Total Votes - 36 up - 6 down
    • racket says:

      It’s but a drop in the bucket of malfeasance at all levels of government, but you’re right, it figures that Adam Hill is involved.

      (27) 39 Total Votes - 33 up - 6 down
      • Big Sir says:

        Another Adam Hill comment? Yet again, hi, KR!

        (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
    • Big Sir says:

      Again, hi, KR!

      (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
  6. SLOBIRD says:

    Rice and Strzepek for council seats and Barasch for Mayor. Let’s inject some new blood into these council seats. Paso, Atascadero, San Luis, Pismo keep having the same old farts running every election. Look what happened having Allen Settle and Dave Romero and the council for like 15 years. The manipulated the City for years, even through Settle lived in Arroyo Grande no one would challenge it, another Poly professor. The whole County is corrupt – The judges, the DA, sheriff (former SLO cop), the councils, the managers, etc. How are we ever to fix this with so much control – 2 terms or let and throw them out!!!!

    (13) 39 Total Votes - 26 up - 13 down
  7. Jorge Estrada says:

    I wonder how far cyber crimes will be taken. Better yet, “if you could read my mind love, what a tale my thoughts could tell”, GordonLightfoot I think. It’s just getting that crazy, our thoughts are next and who knows when screening the sewers for taxpayer funded meals start?

    This is not like stealing pencils, it’s more like using the citie,s toilet.

    (-8) 18 Total Votes - 5 up - 13 down
  8. gypsycelt says:

    Do not bother voting for Ashbaugh’s hand picked running mate, Jeff Aranguena, either. That guy didn’t attend city council meetings for the longest time until Rice and Strzepek started calling him out on it. The Democratic party machine has certainly tried to rig this race, hasn’t it? Vote for independents this year.

    (27) 41 Total Votes - 34 up - 7 down
    • SLO-shank says:

      The local Democratic Central Committee political machine did indeed try to anoint carpetbagger Jeff Aranguena:

      I’ve had it. I would now never vote for party loyalists Marx, Ashbaugh or Aranguena!

      (26) 34 Total Votes - 30 up - 4 down
      • gypsycelt says:

        The voters have two authentic choices for city council: Matt Strzepek and Kevin Rice. They are reform-minded and will clean up city hall.

        (10) 24 Total Votes - 17 up - 7 down
        • Crusader says:

          Actually Carpenter has done an excellent job over the past two years on the SLO City Council. Ashbaugh seemed harmless enough (although I still preferred Rice) until this matter came to light. Now I am voting for Carpenter and Rice.

          (-3) 25 Total Votes - 11 up - 14 down
          • gypsycelt says:

            You mean big-money, pro-developer, anti-homeless, friend of Adam Hill, devoid of any fresh new ideas Carpenter? Why waste your vote? Remember, he is the appointed councilmember. He wasn’t even elected by the people last time around. Give Strzepek and Rice a chance. They are way better than the appointed incumbent and the ethically-challenged incumbent.

            (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
            • Crusader says:

              If I recall correctly Mr. Carpenter ran for city council and received more votes than anyone else who was not elected. When Marx narrowly became mayor she vacated her council seat. (She should have vacated it before she ran for mayor!)

              Given the circumstances it was only fair to place Carpenter on the council even though Marx, Ashbaugh and company tried to sleaze their Democratic Central Committee buddy Patty Andreen (Marx’s campaign manager!) into the position.

              If Andreen wanted to be on the council she should have run.

              I’m supporting Rice and Carpenter. Strzepek does not impress me.

              (-8) 16 Total Votes - 4 up - 12 down
              • gypsycelt says:

                Dan Carpenter, the appointed councilmember, has had two years to prove himself. What has he done? He has oppressed the homeless and fattened the pockets of his pro-development business buddies. Remember how he issued a press release saying the city council and city attorney should continue fighting the homeless in court? If he has his way, the city will spend hundreds of thousands of more dollars on litigation. Have you seen how much money he has raised for his own campaign? Those donations and endorsements, especially from Adam Hill, come at a high cost. Carpenter cannot be beholden to the people; he has compromised himself too much. Throw him out along with the other incumbents!

                (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
                • Crusader says:

                  You can vent as much anger and frustration as you like, Mr. Strzepek but that does not make you right.

                  Mr. Carpenter has served honorably thus far. That’s not true of Ms. Marx or Mr. Ashbaugh. That’s not simply my opinion. That’s the record.

                  You are obviously passionate about the SLO homeless and you should be as it’s an extremely important issue. But it’s not the only issue facing the City of SLO — it’s one of many difficult issues facing the city. All the issues must be addressed in a balanced manner. This is something you have yet to learn.

                  (-9) 11 Total Votes - 1 up - 10 down
              • gypsycelt says:

                What is so honorable about Carpenter’s performance so far? He has shown by his votes that he wants to support greedy developers whom he is connected with and continue litigating against the homeless. Why did he accept campaign funds from Copeland? Carpenter is just as bad as Ashbaugh and Marx. Not one of them deserves a second term. Or since Carpenter is the appointed candidate who conned his way onto the council with the help of his cronies, a first term. It is telling how Carpenter is so silent on so many issues. It is as if he has no solutions to any problems. At least Mr. Strzepek is offering new ideas and practical solutions to a wide range of pressing city problems. I for one am inspired to vote for Mr. Strzepek, whom I consider a thoughtful, caring man.

                (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
              • Big Sir says:

                You can vent as much anger and frustration as you like, Mr. Rice but that does not make you right. I’m supporting Strzepek. Rice does not impress me.

                (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
  9. gypsycelt says:

    This does not surprise me. Ashbaugh is famous for saying one thing but then doing another. It is just one more reason among many why Ashbaugh does not deserve to be reelected. Throw this guy out of office. There are much better choices. Rice and Strzepek seem like true reformers.

    (26) 42 Total Votes - 34 up - 8 down
    • SLO-shank says:

      Let’s see if the Tribune has the resolve to investigate and print this story.

      (30) 38 Total Votes - 34 up - 4 down
      • womanwhohasbeenthere says:

        Yes the Tribune has an article in today’s paper. Ashbaugh compared this to leaving his trash cans in plain site. What a jerk. If he can’t be faithful in a small thing, can we trust him with big things?

        (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down

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