Opinion » Shredder

Greasy, slimy, gopher guts



Forty-seven hundred bucks doesn't go as far as it used to, especially when you're greasing the palms of unctuous local politicians. Thanks to the passage of AB 571 local races now default to the statewide cap on individual campaign donations, which the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is raising from $4,700 to a cool $4,900 in January ... unless counties and cities set their own alternative limit before Dec. 31, 2020.


Guess which county just passed a $25K limit? If you guessed SLO County, you must pay attention to the news. Despite hundreds of residents overwhelmingly opposing the board's new cap—including many arguing it should be lower than the state limit—the conservative majority of the SLO County Board of Supervisors in a 3-1 vote agreed to allow rich people to lay 25-large on whomever runs for, say, 1st District Supe John Peschong's seat.

I mention Peschong because he's the only supervisor with a conflict-of-interest complaint leveled against. Morro Bay resident Malcolm McEwen filed a complaint with the FPPC arguing that since Peschong has a financial stake in political consulting firm Meridian Pacific Inc., which has run local political campaigns, Peschong should have recused himself from the vote.

Peschong's greasy response to the FPPC is the sort of slippery shysterism that makes politicians so repellent to regular folks. Calling McEwen's complaint "frivolous," Peschong used hair-splitting lawyer arguments to "prove" he has no conflict or any potential financial interests to gain from the new limit, which—sorry, not sorry—is total bullshit (excuse my fancy lawyer term).

Peschong wrote in his response, "Neither I nor my business have engaged in campaign services for which I have received income for any candidate for elected office ... since 2016." He also claimed he wouldn't be working on any campaigns "while I am serving as a public official."

That's good, because that would totally be a blatant conflict, eh? But what about after you leave office, John? In the same response, you said, "In 2020, I was re-elected for a new (and announced final) term of office," which means in four years you and Meridian Pacific will no doubt be engaging in political consulting and running campaigns and lining your bird's nest with fat wads of individual campaign donations for all the TV ads you'll produce and glossy mailers we'll throw in the trash. The new $25,000 limit will unquestionably benefit Peschong in the future, and the FPPC has agreed to investigate.

Politics and money seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly, apple pie and mom, power and corruption, self-interest and rationalization, greed and crime ... I could go on. Let's face it: Politicians love money! It's what gets them elected and reelected. Not only does Peschong have a conflict of interest in raising the campaign donation limits, so does every politician! How is this even allowed?

Oh yeah, Political Action Committees, Citizens United, unbridled lobbying ... politics has turned from "one person one vote" to "corporations are people" and "money is speech."

"Hm." (Flipping over couch cushions). "Where in the heck... ?" (Searching under car seats). "Sorry ________ (fill in the blank), candidate for ________ (whatever local office), but I don't have $25,000 to donate to your campaign. I've looked in all the usual places where I keep my discretionary income."

For most of us, $25,000 to throw at a candidate for office is wholly out of reach; in fact, $4,900 is too. I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in an oligarchy, where rich people get to decide who gets to run for office, who wins, and what policies they'll put in place. The last four years under Trump, we've seen our government drift further into kleptocracy. This $25K cap further divides us between those who can influence politicians with big campaign donations and those of us whose couch cushions are empty.

Here's the sad thing. Even if Peschong had done the right thing (and maybe the the smart thing) and recused himself, this ordinance would still have passed with yes votes from 4th District Supe Lynn Compton and 5th District Supe Debbie Arnold, and Peschong would be in the clear. By the way, thanks dissenter and 2nd District Supe Bruce Gibson for having a little backbone and self-respect! Does money and politics make you as sick to your stomach as it does me?

And speaking of rhetorical questions, political money, and corruption, is Andy Caldwell a sore loser? During his race for the 24th Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, Caldwell accepted donations over the allowable limit and miscategorized other donations, which he called accounting errors when discovered.

Now on his Facebook page, Caldwell wrote, "Sydney [it's actually spelled 'Sidney,' doofus] Powell believes up to 35,000 votes may have been added to democratic [capital "D," you disrespectful wanker] candidate vote totals by way of the Dominion voting machines. What would that mean for my race against Salud?"

You still would have lost, dude. You got routed by more than seven points! Also, even Trump and his stooges have distanced themselves from Sidney "Wackadoodle" Powell. And now you've got your wacko followers all wound up on fake news fraud claims. Congrats Caldwell! You've proven everyone else's points about your washed up wacko ways. Δ

The Shredder is thankful 2020 is almost over. Send Thanksgiving salutations to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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