Long Beach did not violate state law when it sent mailers to voters last year about its ballot measures, a state agency ruled this week.
California’s Fair Political Practices Commission — the panel tasked with investigating allegations of political wrongdoing — said in a letter that the city was within its rights to send the mailings.
The panel looked into the pieces of mail Long Beach sent to voters last year about Measures M, AAA, BBB, CCC and DDD after the Long Beach Reform Coalition sent a complaint earlier this month arguing the leaflets attempted to sway voters, rather than simply inform them.
California’s Political Reform Act bars governmental bodies from spending public funds to explicitly advocate for or against ballot measures.
Galena West, the commission’s Enforcement Division chief, wrote in her Wednesday, May 15, ruling the mailings did not cross that line.
They “were informational in nature,” West wrote, “and did not expressly advocate for or against a ballot measure, or unambiguously urge a result in an election.”
Ian Patton, a spokesman for the advocacy group, said he was frustrated by the news.
“They basically said, we don’t see express advocacy,” Patton said, “and we’re not going to bother looking any further at the extremely misleading, skewed content.
“I’m disappointed in that,” he added, “and we will seek to appeal their decision not to open an investigation.”
All five measures were approved by the voters. Measure M allowed the city to transfer utility revenues to its general fund; Measure AAA changed the language outlining the city auditor’s duties; Measure BBB redefined officials’ term limits; Measure CCC created an ethics commission; and Measure DDD created an independent redistricting commission.