April 10, 2012 - 'Businessman' approved for ballot
Paper: Press-Enterprise, The (Riverside, CA)
Title: 'Businessman' approved for ballot
Date: April 10, 2012
Author: Jeff Horseman and David Danelski, Staff Writers
Assemblyman and Riverside County supervisor candidate Kevin Jeffries can describe himself as a small business owner on the June 5 ballot but must drop or revise language about his voting record on taxes, a court commissioner ruled Monday.
The decision is a partial victory for Supervisor Bob Buster who wanted to force Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, to describe himself as an Assembly member and remove ballot language that touted Jeffries as the anti-tax candidate in the three-man race for Buster's seat.
Buster's other challenger is retired California Highway Patrol officer Mike Soubirous.
Last month, Buster asked the court to order the county registrar of voters not to use the term "small business owner" in Jeffries' ballot statement. The ballots are scheduled to be printed today.
The supervisor also challenged a portion of Jeffries' statement describing him as the "only candidate to OPPOSE raising your vehicle tax, income tax and sales tax, saving families nearly $1,000 a year!"
Attorneys for Buster and Jeffries presented their arguments in court Monday morning.
Tom Jacobson, attorney for Jeffries, said it would be damaging to the political system if the court forced the Assemblyman to change the occupation designation on the candidate statement because of a complaint from an opponent.
"He (Buster) doesn't have the right to tell Mr. Jeffries what to say in his candidate's statement," Jacobson said.
Jeffries has said his primary source of income and retirement savings comes from his family business, which owns and manages commercial and residential properties.
Buster's attorney, James R. Sutton, countered that the "small businessman" designation misleads voters.
"This is someone who has been in the Assembly for six years, and that is not mentioned anywhere" in the candidate's statement, Sutton said.
In court papers, Buster contended Jeffries' statement about taxes is misleading and an indirect personal attack.
Superior Court Commissioner Paulette Durand-Barkley upheld Jeffries' right to call himself a small business owner but required the registrar to delete the statement about taxes. During the hearing, she said Jeffries' opponents are not state legislators and could not have voted on vehicle taxes and the like.
Jeffries can submit a revised statement "that clarifies the context in which (he) voted, or which states a personal position without reference to voting record," according to Barkley's decision.
In an interview Monday, Jeffries said he approached Buster's legal team about changing his ballot language but was turned down.
"Today was a complete waste of taxpayer funds and court time, and I'm very pleased with the outcome," he said.
Buster said he was glad the commissioner ordered Jeffries "to change one of his main statements in his ballot arguments."
He said Jeffries is trying to avoid being associated with an unpopular, dysfunctional state Legislature. As for turning down Jeffries' offer of a revised ballot statement, Buster said Sutton "never said to me, 'We're being offered this (by the Jeffries camp) in exchange for this.'"
Barkley's decision differs from one issued in a similar case in San Bernardino County.
A Superior Court judge ruled late last month that Supervisor Neil Derry cannot identify himself as a businessman on the June ballot; instead, he must refer to himself as a county supervisor.
A supporter of Derry's opponent, San Manuel tribal Chairman James Ramos, filed the challenge with the Ramos campaign's financial backing. The judge found that Derry's principal occupation was supervisor.
Follow Jeff Horseman on Twitter: @JeffHorseman
Follow David Danelski on Twitter: @DavidDanelski
Record Number: 11039643
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