Fresno County has sued two Fresno city council members for allegedly violating a 2020 campaign finance law prohibiting contributions over $30,000. On Thursday, the city decided to intervene, believing the case could ultimately force it to amend its own campaign finance law.
At issue is whether a transfer from one account to another constitutes a contribution. Fresno council members Garry Bredefeld and Luis Chavez are both running for the county board of supervisors. The county claims they violated the law by transferring a large amount of cash from their city council campaign committees to their campaigns for county supervisor. Bredefeld and Chavez disagree.
The city’s interest in this fight is very narrow, according to City Attorney Andrew Janz.
“Our standing argument is this: In the county’s moving papers, they essentially equate campaign ‘transfers’ with ‘contributions,’” he told The Fresno Bee. “Under state laws and under interpretations from the (state Fair Political Practices Commission), those two things are treated differently.”
“So the city is intervening on a very narrow issue, to distinguish between those two things, contributions and transfers,” he added.
The council’s vote to intervene was 4-1. Bredefeld and Chavez recused themselves and Miguel Arias cast the lone “no” vote.
The case goes to court in September.