Our reporting relies on your support. Contribute today! 

Help us reach our goal of $250,000. The countdown is on!

I’ve received some interesting feedback since posting this yesterday about how employees of City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s office were solicited for their campaign contributions:

(Aguirre aide Jeff) Van Deerlin said he works in an unpaid role on the Aguirre reelection campaign and does his campaign work at home. “I do my darnedest and I really try to keep both things separate. I don’t like people coming in and talking politics in this office,” he said.

Van Deerlin said a minimum of $1,000 in contributions was needed to open Aguirre’s campaign committee.

“I probably said to Karen (Heumann) and Kathryn (Burton) that we needed $1,000,” he said. “They said, ‘I’ll give.’”

Both state law and the city’s ethics ordinance forbid the solicitation of city employees for political campaigns if that solicitation isn’t part of one made to a larger segment of the public.

Don Mcgrath (left) and Jeff Van Deerlin.

Here’s what the city’s ethics ordinance says about soliciting contributions from city employees:

§27.3571 Solicitation of Political Campaign Contributions

(a) It is unlawful for any City Official to solicit, directly or indirectly, a political campaign contribution from any City employee with knowledge that the person from whom the contribution is solicited is a City employee.

(b) It is unlawful for any candidate for elective office of the City to solicit, directly or indirectly, a political campaign contribution from a City employee with knowledge that the person from whom the contribution is solicited is a City employee.

(c) Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b), this section shall not prohibit a City

Official or a candidate for elective office of the City from soliciting political campaign contributions from City employees if the solicitation is part of a solicitation made to a significant segment of the public which may include

City employees, and the solicitation does not otherwise violate the provisions of the Campaign Control Ordinance.

(d) Nothing in this section prohibits a City employee from making a political campaign contribution to a City Official or candidate for elective office, and nothing in this section prohibits a City Official or candidate for elective office from accepting a political campaign contribution from a City employee.

And here’s what the state government code says:

(a) An officer or employee of a local agency shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit a political contribution from an officer or employee of that agency, or from a person on an employment list of that agency, with knowledge that the person from whom the contribution is solicited is an officer or employee of that agency.

b) A candidate for elective office of a local agency shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit a political contribution from an officer or employee of that agency, or from a person on an employment list of that agency, with knowledge that the person from whom the contribution is solicited is an officer or employee of that agency.

(c) This section shall not prohibit an officer or employee of a local agency, or a candidate for elective office in a local agency, from requesting political contributions from officers or employees of that agency if the solicitation is part of a solicitation made to a significant segment of the public which may include officers or employees of that local agency.

(d) Violation of this section is punishable as a misdemeanor. The district attorney shall have all authority to prosecute under this section.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Stacey Fulhorst said this: “We regulate a law that says city officials will not solicit city employees for campaign contributions. I certainly cannot comment on the facts of the current situation.”

In interviews yesterday, Burton, an Aguirre aide, and Executive Assistant City Attorney Don McGrath said they weren’t solicited to make contributions.

Neither Aguirre nor Van Deerlin returned phone calls seeking comment this afternoon.

ANDREW DONOHUE

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.