Mayor candidates Javier Gonzales and Rebecca Wurzburger are asking the city to refuse public campaign financing for Patti Bushee in light of an ethics complaint filed against her mayoral campaign last week.
Gonzales and Wurzburger sent a letter Wednesday to the city's Ethics and Campaign Review Board chairman Justin Miller and City Clerk Yolanda Vigil asking them to "immediately reverse ... the planned issuance of campaign funds to the Patti Bushee campaign and hold an expedited hearing on admitted violations by candidate Patti Bushee."
In a statement emailed to media outlets, Bushee dismissed the letter as politically motivated.
"This is politics," she writes. "It can get dirty. And it has."
The letter cites an ethics complaint filed last week against the Bushee campaign by her former campaign manager Tarin Nix. In the complaint, Nix wrote that Bushee raised more than the $6,000 limit allowed in seed money to comply with public financing by failing to disclose as seed money the $1,750 the campaign paid Nix for her work in May and June. Bushee reported the check to the city in November as a campaign expense.
Nix also took issue with Bushee paying her the $1,750 out of her personal checkbook, which Nix alleged violates the $100 donation per person limit in the city code. In November, Nix says that the Bushee campaign approached her and asked her to swap checks so the payment came out of the campaign's seed money rather than her personal checkbook.
In their joint letter, Gonzales and Wurzburger allege that Bushee's already acknowledged violating the rules to qualify for public financing.
"She has admitted to paying campaign expenses from her personal account, in an amount exceeding her allowed seed money contribution of $100," Gonzales and Wurzburger's letter reads. "This would disqualify her from participating in public funding. Only seed money may be used to pay for current campaign expenses. Clearly being allowed to advance personal funds before raising the seed money would give a candidate an unfair advantage over the other candidates that played by the rules."
Bushee, however, argues that no rules in the city code address the specific situation her campaign experienced.
"If there is a problem resulting from a transition from a privately to publicly funded campaign, it was technical in nature," she writes. "There was no intent to evade the rules."
Bushee's campaign has stated
that the check was paid before she decided to qualify for public
financing and that they asked Nix to swap checks based on their best
understanding of the city's public campaign finance code.
Bushee was certified for meeting thresholds for public financing earlier this week. Gonzales also qualified for public campaign financing along with mayoral contender Bill Dimas while Wurzburger tried and failed to qualify.
Though she denies violating any rules, Bushee writes that "nonetheless all of this will be thoroughly examined in the appropriate forum, the ECRB, with our full and enthusiastic cooperation."
Read the letter by Gonzales and Wurzburger below: