California Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom McClintock, who trails only Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante in opinion polls, is barred from publishing a position statement in the voter’s guide for the Oct. 7 recall election because of a selection he inadvertently made when he filled out his entry form.
McClintock, who insists he amended the form and refiled prior to the deadline, claims the state is denying his First Amendment rights.
Sen. Tom McClintock
Late yesterday, however, he lost an appeal before the state Supreme Court, meaning it is possible California voters who rely on the voter pamphlet will know more about the positions of candidates such as actor Gary Coleman and Larry Flynt, “the smut peddler who cares” – than the veteran state senator.
McClintock’s lawyer, Richard Ackerman, believes Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, a Democrat who opposes the recall of Gov. Gray Davis, is taking advantage of the opportunity to put a wrench in the senator’s campaign.
“He is in a perfect position to know McClintock is a threat to Davis,” Ackerman told WorldNetDaily. “If I were to misuse the system, the best way would be to preclude my competition from speaking to the voters.”
Shelley’s office did not return a call from WorldNetDaily asking for a response.
McClintock’s chief strategist John Stoos declined to pin the blame on the secretary of state’s office. He told WND the problem is California’s Fair Political Practices Commission – an independent panel that regulates campaign financing and spending – sticking by its guns on a technicality “because they are bureaucrats first and public servants second.”
The senator’s setback began when he filed a form required to enter the race and checked a box indicating he would not abide by a voluntary fundraising cap of $6 million, established by voters through Proposition 34 three years ago.
He did not realize that by checking “I do not accept the voluntary expenditure ceiling” the proposition’s rules barred him from filing a candidate statement in the voter’s guide. The apparent rationale, says Ackerman, is that candidates who are able to raise larger amounts can afford other media to communicate with voters.
Article 6 of the proposition says: “The Secretary of State and local election officers shall designate in the ballot pamphlet those candidates for elective state office who have voluntarily agreed to expenditure limitations … .”
When McClintock discovered the consequences of his choice, he amended his form and refiled it one day before the Aug. 9 deadline. But the secretary of state’s office refused to accept it, contending the rules prohibit amendments, although this is not indicated anywhere on the form.
But McClintock insists this technicality is superseded by his First Amendment right to communicate his platform to the voters.
“Here you have a candidate willing to take what they say they want – which is the spending cap – and they are saying you can’t do it because he didn’t fill out his form right,” Stoos said.
The strategist explained McClintock’s argument is the state must make reasonable accommodations, “especially when dealing with First Amendment speech.”
Ackerman made that point in Sacramento County’s superior court Tuesday, but Judge Gail Ohanesian, after initially indicating favor toward McClintock’s position, ruled against him.
The 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled Thursday McClintock had the right to amend his form, but it did not see evidence the document was turned in on time. Due to a mixup, the court did not receive a faxed copy of McClintock’s form, which shows he submitted it to the secretary of state’s office before the deadline.
When McClintock’s team turned in the evidence to the superior court, the court refused to accept it, for reasons unknown to Ackerman and Stoos.
The voter’s pamphlet goes to the printer tomorrow.
Meanwhile, a recent Los Angeles Times poll showed McClintock gaining ground in the past few weeks, with 12 percent, behind Schwarzenegger’s 22 percent and Bustamante’s 35 percent.
His campaign launched a series of television and radio ads across California this week, touting his plan to tackle the $38 billion budget shortfall.
In the statement submitted for publication in the voter’s guide, which is limited to 250 words, McClintock says, “In the first hour of my administration, I will rescind Davis’ tripling of the car tax, act to void Davis’ $42 billion of overpriced electricity contracts and call a special session of the legislature to overhaul our failing workers’ compensation system.”