OC Daily has learned the City of San Clemente has cancelled its controversial decision to pay for a recount in the Measure OO hotel bed tax election in an attempt to flip the result from “no” to “yes.” The cancellation was made after the city received a letter from the California Policy Center, a conservative public policy group based in Orange County.
The California Policy Foundation learned of the highly-unusual recount request from OC Daily, which broke the story on December 7. Earlier today, CPC attorney Chad Morgan sent the following letter to the City of San Clemente:
Dear San Clemente City Clerk & Mr. Kelley:
It is my understanding that the City of San Clemente has requested or is going to
request a recount of votes cast in the election for City of San Clemente, Measure OO and
that the recount is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, December 12, 2016. As I
understand it, the recount will be paid for with public funds and is requested pursuant to
Elections Code section 15620 et seq.
As you surely know, Measure OO was a hotel tax placed on the ballot by the San Clemente City Council and subsequently rejected by City voters in the November 8, 2016 election. The City Council’s request for a recount appears to be an attempt to spend public funds to further the political objective of changing the election result.
I’m sending this letter on behalf of the California Policy Center and voters in the City of San Clemente. This letter is both a demand that the City cease and desist spending public funds on a Measure OO recount and notice that I will be appearing ex parte on Monday, December 12, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. in the Orange County Superior Court, Central Justice Center, located at 700 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana, CA 92701.
The purpose of the ex parte request is to obtain a temporary restraining order prohibiting a recount that is requested and/or paid for by the City of San Clemente. The ex parte hearing will be held in a court room assigned by the Clerk prior to the hearing. Unless you receive alternative information from me, you should report to the Civil Clerk’s Office at 1:30 p.m. on December 12, 2016 for information on where to appear for
The basis for this request is (1) Elections Code section 15620 et seq. does not permit a City-requested recount because the City is not a “voter” as defined in the Elections Code; and (2) the City is prohibited from using public funds to pay for a voter requested recount.
Please notify me by 5:00 p.m. today that the City has withdrawn any recount request and confirm that the City will cease the expenditure of public funds in support of a voter-requested recount. If I receive such notice by 5:00 p.m. today, then I will withdraw this notice for the December 12, 2016 ex parte hearing.
I am looking forward to hearing from you and am available to discuss this if you
have any questions. You can reach me at 951-667-1927 (office) or 714-658-2190 (cellular).
Chad D. Morgan, Esq.
Within a few hours, the city contacted the Registrar of Voters to cal off the recount.
The San Clemente City Council’s action was very rapidly becoming very controversial due to the dubious legality of using tax dollars in a bald attempt to alter the outcome of an election. Councilmembers were crystal clear that their intent in pursuing a recount – which would have cost city taxpayers between $17,000 and $40,000 – was to produce the approval of the Measure O tax increase and generate additional revenues for the city treasury. Questions about the fairness of the government becoming a participant in the electoral process rather than its neutral guarantor, or the justness of using the people’s money against them, were never raised during the council discussion.