The No on Measure J group mailed out a misleading flyer to local voters that suggests the County Clerk Recorder, The Tribune, and New Times endorse their anti-Dalidio Ranch development campaign.
"It's misleading to say the least," said San Luis Obispo County Clerk Recorder Julie Rodewald, in response to the No on J mailer bearing as part of the return address the title County Clerk-Recorder. "We see dirty campaigns all the time. My concern is voters getting the impression we are for or against any issue."
The County Clerk-Recorder asked the coalition to halt dispersing the shifty flyer an absentee ballot application and suggested the No on Measure J group enact appropriate mitigation. Rodewald suggested the group send a letter to voters that clarifies any misconceptions that the County Clerk-Recorder'-s office endorses the No on Measure J campaign.
"It was a typographical error," said No on Measure J Campaign Coordinator Katie Kerner. "We in no way meant to imply the County Clerk-Recorder was taking a position on this issue."
Though it is legal and not uncommon for political groups to mail out campaign literature including absentee ballot application forms, public employees are banned from taking a stand to discourage or support a ballot measure while on the job, according to government codes 54964 and 8314.
The flyer also contains deceptive quotes from The Tribune and New Times articles that appear to suggest the publications are opposed to the Dalidio Ranch project.
"They took our material out of context hoping to persuade voters The Tribune had taken a stand," said Publisher Chip Visci. "Things were simply taken out of context."
The quotes though accurate stand below The Tribune's logos and blast Measure J. One quote titled "Avoid the coming Dalidio mess," is from a No on Measure J spokesperson letter to the editor dated August 13.
"Our reason was to let readers go back and find the article," Kerner responded. "We didn't intentionally leave out the speaker's name. Nowhere on it is it stated or implied that The Tribune endorses our 'no' position."
As of Oct.17, the No on Measure J group had not responded to Rodewald's request for voter clarification.
"I am trying to set up an appointment with counsel to discuss what our options are," Rodewald added.
San Luis Obispo Councilmember Paul Brown took a stand on Tuesday night against what he called the No on Measure J group's "shenanigans."
"If you need to misrepresent and misguide voters, then your position shouldn't be supported," Brown said during an interview, after viewing the controversial flyer. "Winning to them is more important than accurate facts."